Volcano Acatenango reaches 13,044 feet Christian and our friends Josh and Jenna (travelamateurs) thought hiking up it would be great fun. I had already decided that I would prefer to skip out on this great adventure, because I tend to have bad timing. Volcano Acatenango is part of a two peak volcano, you hike up the taller one at 13,044 feet (3976m) and you look down at the very active Volcan Fuego. It has a loose schedule of off five days and on fire for five days, the hike was set for an “on” day. My worry was that I would do this insane hike up the volcano in all types of weather and I wouldn’t be able to see the Volcan Fuego erupting. I love hiking but there needs to be some sort of pay off; travelamateurs.com Give me a view, cave, river, waterfall, lake or an erupting volcano next door. The night before Josh called Christian and they had the trip all set with a local guide. “What if I want to go?” I said. It was go time and I got a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). If I didn’t go then the volcano would erupt in perfect plain sight and I would miss out on the awesome opportunity with our friends. The next morning I put my game face and big girl pants on.
Our guide tells us at the head of the trail that the first 45 mins are straight up and tough but the next five hours would be easier. Jaime, our guide carried all of our food and cooked our meals for the trip up on his broken backpack tied to his back with a rope. I was the rock-like caboose during the entire trek. We also brought along our friend’s giant white german shepard and at first everyone was worried how he was going to do. I had a feeling that if I could survive this quest that this fearless pup would run circles around me and he did. Up and up we climb arriving at base camp just an hour before sunset, I would venture to say it was about 30 degrees cooler at basecamp. We were surrounded in clouds and the wind had picked up, Jaime points to where we should see the other volcano. He in a hopeful attitude says “it is going to rain tonight and that’s good news because after the rain the clouds will clear and open up for a great view!” The plan is to go to sleep early and wake up at 3:45am and hike to the summit for the sunrise and an erruption. That night Jaime makes us some hotdog-spaghetti and beans for dinner with hot chocolate. The weather is a wee bit intollerable at base-camp so we all retreat to our tents and inside our sleeping bags. Off in the nearby distance we can hear and feel Volcan Fuego errupting. The clouds open up for a breif moment and we all catch a glimpse of the volcano shooting fire into the sky and the lava river flowing down the side of the mountain. It was too cold to peep out of the tent for longer than a split second so we try to go to sleep while hearing the fire rage out the top of the neighbor volcano and hope for better conditions in the morning. The rain is whipping around our tents and Jaime was climbing up trees and macheting down branches to make tarpaulin from scratch for our tents to keep us all dry throughout the rainstorm.
3:45am on the dot Jaime is at our tents “Guys, Vamos!” It’s pitch black out, cold, windy and time to finish the hike up volcanic gravel for an hour or two. We take our headlamps and try to stay on the thin trail in the dark, two steps up and one slide down. Eventually we make it to the summit and we can barely see ten feet in front of us, let alone the other volcano. It’s so close we can hear and feel the rumbling but our timing just didn’t work out and the weather was a thrashing winterlike storm. We couldn’t stand it for much longer than a few photos and Jaime said it wasn’t going to get any better. Behind the clouds the sun was trying make an apperance, but we never got a clear shot it just lit the way down back to base-camp for us.
Here we are at the chilling summit in a monumental moment together during our last week in Antigua, Guatemala.