The third hardest thing I have ever done!

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Jun 23, 2009

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Friday, April 7, 2006

Massie and I made our way from the beaches, to San Juan del Sur, to Rivas, and finally across Lake Nicaragua to Isle Ometepe. Ometepe is a big island in the middle of the huge lake that was created by two volcanos that eventually joined to make one island. The volcanoes are named Maderas (inactive) that has an elevation of 1,394 meters and has a crater lake at the top, and Concepción (active) that is 1,610 meters high and has last erupted a few years ago. Concepción is considered the most perfectly formed volcano in Central America. Once on the island, Massie and I split up... she wanted to go to a Finca and I wanted civilization. My first stop was the local guide shop, Exploring Ometepe, to see about climbing Maderas the next day. They said that I need to find two more people if I wanted to go on that hike and that they would find me later that night if we were going. Between working on the computer and seeing about hikes, I met two Canadian guys (Tim and Paul) who were on a two week holiday. They two wanted to hike a volcano, but they wanted to go straight to the big leagues and climb Concepción in two days. Anyway, I was then met by Berman Gomez (the guide) at my hotel. He told me that there was no one else who wanted to climb Maderas, but he would take me on a shorter three hour hike through a butterfly forest and around the north end of the Island. We then talk to Tim and Paul and we had a group of 4 to stretch our legs out before trying Concepción.

The next morning Berman met Tim, Paul and I at my hotel to go on a 3 4 hour hike through a butterfly reserve. After getting off the bus at the north end of the island we walked down a dirt road, while Berman tried to find a "snake stick". I didn't quite understand what it was for, until he found a big 4 foot long, yellow vine snake. He was on the hunt! He used the stick to fling the snake out of the tree and on to the road. He then tried to grab it's tail while using the stick to stop it's head from swinging around and biting him. It was crazy to watch, and finally about 3 minutes later the snake gave up and he stood there holding it by it's tail. It was crazy! After the "Fun with Snake Time" was over, we walked a bit further down the road, only to find Howler Monkeys in the trees above. They were too cool. Berman made a loud hooting sounds and that got them howling. Not too loud, but loud enough to give me chills. Then as I stood looking up at them, I heard a loud thud a few feet away from me. I thought the monkeys had thrown something at us, but with further investigation... it turned out to be poo. The monkeys were pooing on us. I guess they do that to get rid of annoying tourists. :) Anyway, as we walked and talked with Berman we found out that he was the Nicaraguan National Boxing Champion when he was about 20. He also was the guide for a BBC movie that followed a group of disabled people on a trek across Nicaragua... which means he has hiked across the country 3 times. He was really great to talked too, and once we got into the butterfly reserve he even caught a big blue one for us too look at. It had a broken wing, so it flew slower and was easy to catch. The butterfly then flew away unharmed. It was great! We finished the hike at a bird lagoon that in the morning and evening is teeming with wildlife... however, since it was mid-day, there wasn't much going on. Once we finally rolled back into town we headed straight for lunch to get enough energy to go to one of the beaches. We were so excited to jump in and not have the overwhelming taste of salt in our mouths... since it is a freshwater lake. But we were a bit worried about the freshwater bull sharks that are known to swim around in the lake. Anyway, the rest of the night was spent at the internet and gathering food for the trek the next day.

I didn't sleep to much, due to the excitement of the hike. So it was a bit tough to wake up at 5:30 for the 6 am hike time. After a light breakfast we thought we would be off... but the truck that was suppose to take us to trail head had a flat tire. Everybody on the bus! We had a group of 9 hikers... Tim, Paul, Louis (England), the German guy (who didn't say much), a Swedish couple (who worried us when the girl showed up in flip-flops), and an American Couple. We headed out on a dirt road, that was pretty flat, but we were walking at a really fast pace. Everyone was a bit caught off guard thinking that was how fast we were going to have to walk this fast the whole time. But once we entered the jungle area and gaining elevation quickly, we all slowed down A lOT! Finally after hiking for about 1 1/2 hours, the jungle opened up to an area called "The Hump", cause it is just a hill below the volcano... and well, looks like a hump. We took a quick rest, Berman had a cigarette, and we were off again. The next section got a bit more difficult, and this is where Berman stopped the group and said "the easy part is over and if you are unsure about this part, you shouldn't proceed to the top". The American couple decided to turn back and wait for the group back at the hump. The rest of us idiots continued on. The rest of the hike to the top consisted of my crawling on all fours, while dodging rocks that had been dislodged by the people ahead of me. I only got hit once in the hand by a small one, but it still left a bruise. Slowly as we hiked (very slowly) the clouds started to cover and you could only see about 30 feet around yourself. The wind was another factor. Not only was I on all fours because of the unstable footing, but because if I stood up I would almost get blown off by the strong gusts. We stopped just below the top in a craves that was protected from the wind. Berman told us that the top was only a few yards away, so we dropped off our bags so we were as light as possible. Now we were all crawling to the top. The wind was super strong, the rock really unstable, and the clouds super thick. I was a bit scared and was happy when Berman stopped us about 10 yards from the top saying that we shouldn't go any further because it wasn't safe. We then headed back to our craves for lunch (which was really gross looking, but surprisingly good) before heading back down the volcano... which was much harder than climbing up. You had to concentrate with every step, because the rocks would slip out from under you feet and you would be on your butt in seconds. The German guy, who was in the front, was a rock magnet. He came close to getting hit so many times... even though we were calling out "ROCK" and "BIG ROCK!". Berman said we were the nicest group he has hiked with, cause most people don't call out the rocks. I fell down more times than I could count, but the worst was when I stepped down, slipped, somehow spun around my walking stick, and ended up looking uphill on my butt. I was so scared I was headed down the slope ass over tea kettle. After that I concentrated even harder. When we finally got back to the hump I thought the hard part was over... I was wrong! We then headed down a different trail that wasn't as well defined as the other, which mean we did a lot of bushwhacking... and a lot more slipping and falling. The worst part was that this section of the hike was totally exposed to the sun. Even when we got into a more wooded area, it was still super hot... I'm talking in the upper 90's and maybe even 100's. I was so tired I didn't even feel like reapplying my sun screen. We then walked for what seemed like hours on this long dirt road. Berman thought he was funny and told us that since the truck had a flat tire, we had to walk back to town. I didn't think it was so funny and almost started crying from the thought. During one of the breaks, the American guy showed signs of heat stroke... which wasn't surprising since he had long pants and a long sleeve shirt buttoned up to his neck. I told him to unbutton it and get some air on his body. I gave him my wet hanker-chif to wear and cool down his head, which helped. Anyway, while we hiked the truck finally showed up on the road. I almost ran up and hugged the driver I was so happy. So I made it! After hiking for 9 hours in intense heat, I was done and now hiking Volcano Concepcion is #3 on my list of hardest things I have ever done! In case you were wondering, #1 is the Marathon and #2 is my first hut trip. Once back in town I took a much needed shower, ate a ton of food, and ended up drinking the rest of the night. Louis (the English guy) and his girlfriend Sharron were great... however, kept feeding me rum and coke. Paul, Tim, Louis and I all outlasted the rest of the group and we climbed the volcano that day! We finished the evening giving (horrible) relationship advise to a new English girl, Maddie... it was too funny!

The next morning I felt horrible. My body hurt, my liver was screaming, and I had to pack my bags cause I had no money and needed to get off the island. I was heading to Coata Rica with Paul and Tim... Good times!
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Berman Gomez on

Hola! nice to read what fellows say of myself, i enjoy hiking very much, i Remeber this day, was a hot day!!
In case anyone is interested abut my service please let me know to this email address:
/Berman Gomez. Tour guide from Nicaragua.

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