During the free weekend in San Juan, a group of us decided to take this chance to climb and sleep on top of Volcan Acatenango. We knew it would be a long, hard hike and we knew it would be a long, cold night of no sleep, but the view would make it all worth it, right? Yes this statement did prove to be true…eventually.
Our day began at 6:30 in the morning, writing to be driven to the base of the volcano. We began with plenty of food, warm clothes, and 4 litres of water strapped to our backs (or strapped to a horse). Even at our starting point it was cold, making us wonder if we packed enough layers. Peter assured us that the clouds would clear and the sun would shine, so we began our journey with positive attitudes.
The clouds did not clear. The sun did not shine. We were pelted with wind and rain as we climbed and there was no knowing what was around the next corner.
We arrived at the top cold, tired and without a satisfying view to justify the pain in our legs. For all we knew we were only half way up or on another planet. We set up our tents in the rain, only to discover that they were not made for rain. As Owen tried to attach the fly to his tent, it proceeded to rip, but Emily-Ann’s rain poncho was a pretty good substitute. Once we were all set up there was nothing to do except huddle together and try to keep warm. Take note: having seven people in a three man tent can keep you pretty warm. With nothing better to do outside and a strong desire to not leave the heat of the tent, we laid there for about 5 hours until someone braved the cold to start the fire for supper. Andrew’s deck of cards helped to pass the time. I couldn’t help but laugh that we hiked for four hours only to sit in our tent.
We survived the night, getting dripped on and hoping that our tent wouldn’t collapse under the force of the wind. I woke up in the morning to the excited shouting of guys seeing blue sky for the first time in 20 hours, even if it only lasted for 10 seconds before the clouds rolled in again. From inside out tent, we got the update on how it was looking from Owen: “I can see more than I could yesterday. But I still see nothing at all”.
It really was beginning to clear up, so we decided to climb to the very peak hoping to see what we came for. We were not disappointed. From the top we saw an infinity of rolling clouds, mountains, and volcanoes-beauty that only God could design.
Our hike down was full of laughter as we half jogged, half galloped down the trail. The only thing we suffered, were our noses being clogged with dirt. All in all we laughed, we cried, and we promised to never make fun of the boys for wearing their ugly ponchos again, because that was the warmest piece of clothing I have ever worn.