Through the night we climbed a very dark, very ambigious path towards the top of a volcanoe that i was sure we would never reach (it looked sooooo far away). The walking didn´t feel like it should be that hard, but the lack of oxygen ensured that it was. We crept like turtles. One. Step. At. A. Time.
Erin and i continually were accused of "going to fast." We started the climb a little behind schedule and were determined not to miss the sunrise. Eventually we parted ways with the others, by the summit we were about 15-20 mins ahead.
All the way there were issues with the flashlights, at least in team speedy. Erin´s light kept going out and by about 3/4 of the way up it was driving her (and by association, me) bonkers. Granted it was like 4:30 in the morning.
There was a strange phenomenon that occurres while climbing worth noting. The path was varied, it split in many directions, there were many false paths as well. Unlike in the states, there are no path markers- these trails are not blazed. There were, however, some unexpected path markers that proved to be invaluable. Almost all of the way up the mountain the path is littered with trash. Mostly soda bottles. And some horse poop too. These ironic trail markers, for hours, showed us the correctness of our course and gave us the confidence to keep trekking. Having never appreciated litter even once in my life, i was strangely grateful for the plastic white pebbles that delivered us from the wood.
When the slight glow of day began to emerge i handed Erin my working light and pressed on alone through the dawning day. I was especially determined not to miss the sunrise. And as a spectacular orange glow began to grow on the horizon i hastened my step.
It was maybe only 15 more minutes to the top and i got there just in time. The whole horizon was simmering with a firey glow, like a gas stove set low. Not having seen or heard any other hikers on the whole of the climb, i was convinced we would have the volcanoe top to ourselves. Didn´t factor in the people who climbed it yesterday.
At the top it was tent city. The uniform shape and color of the tents on the bare rock gave the look of mussels clustered on the sea floor.
There were people everywhere, maybe 150 or more. There were loudly announcing the day, starting fires frying tortillas. It was an odd scene.
I was desperately hungry and thirsty and this point, but all that i could find was bare bread and the water, of course, was far too cold. (to give context if i had worn heavy winter wear i would have been comfortable). So i waited for the others, with my dry bread, until Erin arrived.
We were very excited.
We took turns getting each other´s "epic" shots, because, of course, we were feeling quite epic.
(That´s a volcano errupting four hours away in Antigua in the background)
Will made the really good point that our innermost layer would be sweaty and, therefore, in the cold of the summit excellent for channeling cold. We all brought fresh shirts, which had to be changed fast.
Literally, just in time for the actual appearance of the sun the rest of the crew arrived. Equally exhausted but very ver pleased to be at the top. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and perched high on a rock. The view was absolutely spectacular. It was, without a doubt, the most incredible thing i have ever seen.
Behind us we heard a sound like an airplane. In fact, we were so sure it was an airplane none of us turned around to see what it was. Will, however, knew better. It was the erupting of a vent further down on the side of the volcanoe. It was the same vent that we saw erupt on our way to the hot springs.
When turned around i noticed something else, equally spectacular,behind us.
It was as if we were standing on top of the pyramids.
It was as if we were on top of the world.