Caribbean Islands | Dominican Republic | Central DR | Jarabacoa – Day One – Hour Six
About hour six of our trek: three of us are WAY ahead of the other Three. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker to climb this mountain, but you do have to have some stamina. The weaker have a way of falling behind.
Caught in the middle of the two groups was our guide, with all the water. The temperature was 42 degrees Celcius, but as we climbed higher it got cooler. Because we had a technique to hiking we got ahead. We had to climb 15 minutes, and rest for 2. The other group was on the 30 step program. Take thirty steps then rest. If we climbed a particularily steep hill, instead of sitting and resting we’d take some deep breaths and continue. The meagre path then turned into a sharp incline that was no path at all…just rocks. We talked, sang and struggled to get to the top. The scenery became more and more spectacular as we climbed through densely treed area. Looking across the mountains in the vicinty, a mist hung in the air making the whole experience surreal. I mean, it WOULD have been surreal if I had stopped whining and complaining about my legs for 3 minutes.
We reached the 18 km point on the mountain. There are 3 stops on the mountain. There is a camp at the 4 km mark, and we had reached number 2 a place called ‘Aguita Fria’. ‘Cold water’ the place was called, we had no water and our incentive to keep moving was to get to this point where you could supposedly drink out of the stream. Cold water my ass! The place should have been caled ‘Murky Slough’ We rested for 10 minutes waiting for the others. No sign of them and we had 6 more kilometers to go and it was 18:00. Hiking to the camp in the dark wouldn’t be a wise idea and we were getting cold remaining static. The guide told us when he passed us riding the mule and threw us our water bottle, that the last six kilometers were downhill. You should never believe anything a guide tells you…he’s a liar.
Another six kilometers completely uphill, we whistled the Ode to Joy and it echoed against the rocks. Our eight hour hike was unlike anything else. Totally unparalleled. We saw beautiful things, wild birds, talked of interesting things, sang silly songs, and experienced total agony together. It was the most amazing time I’ve ever spent with other people. It was dark before we made it to the camp, we had to yell to find our way. We stumbled up the hill in the dark, yelling for Santos. Santos would yell back and we would know the direction to take. (Mistake #3…start hiking before 11am…to avoid hiking in the dark)
We got to the camp and unpacked the stuff and sent the guide down the mountain with a flashlight to find the others. I had a supper of 6 M&M’s and 2 Froot Loops. I was too exhausted to eat. We put on warmer clothes then went into the ‘cabin’ to set up the tent. We set up the tent inside the cabin which is only a concrete floor covered with wooden walls and roof. Plus, and this is a big plus…the cabin is infested with rats, and bats come to visit as well…so bring a tent.
Three hours later, the other three of our party arrive riding the two mules. 23:00 they rolled into camp, shivering from the cold and most of them crying from the ordeal. They were huddled on the mountain trying to keep warm. Sleep was the only things on our minds. There was six of us and we had a three man tent. (Mistake #4) We huddled in the tent, with no sleeping bags in the freezing cold. All we had was what we were wearing laying on a concrete floor.
Being that the sleeping was so sublime most of us were up with the sun about 4:30 am. The beginning of day two and we had ‘slept’ poorly, I use the world ‘slept’ loosely. We opened up the food we had attahed to the rafters to find that the rats had eaten all our bread. We still weren’t sure how exactly they had climbed up into the rafters, and managed to open the bag.
Thus began the day…next, the summit.