So, why can I not leave Xela yet… Among the multitude of reasons, here’s another one. On Saturday Morning, when I was getting ready to leave, Mark popped by and asked me if I’d like to climb Tajumulco. See Tajumulco is the highest mountain in all of Central America and it was a serious contender for me to climb, but I was not sure of the logistics as I rode towards it. Here was Carl, a friend of Ana & Mark and fellow Warmshowers host, an avid cyclist, volcano hiker and an absolute tree geek who was headed up to climb the mountain tomorrow. And Ana was happily suggesting I should take up the opportunity to climb and continue staying on at her place 🙂
I couldn’t pass it up and decided to stay the day and the morrow to summit another lovely mountain.
I was up at 4:15 AM and just then Carl called me and I rushed to catch him at the gate in 10 mins time. I should have packed my bag the day before because eventually I had forgotten some fruits and snacks I should have carried with me. duh. Anyhow, Carl and one of his protege (the amazing story of his scholarship program to come later) picked me up at 4:30 and we drove up to the trail head of Tajumulco. This was a near 3 hour drive and we got to the trailhead at 7:30.
Carl is an amazing character. He is filled with stories and anything he does, he does with absolute passion. Hiking and Biking were part of his regular routine, pretty much every day of the week and he told me that he had summited Tajumulco nearly 40 times and once climbed 7 volcanos in 7 days. He also did, what he called a Carl Marathon, that involved riding 5 hour to San Pedro and then climb up that Volcano in one stretch. And he was 67! Beat that!!
He was also passionate about educating women and had a scholarship program for girls from the indigenous population and funded them fully till they could graduate with a university degree. The amount of commitment he had for education was stunning.
Trees were another of his passions and I would talk about it in tomorrow’s post.
About Tajumulco… The climb u Tajumulco started at 3100m and it was a much easier hike than Acatenango or Santa Maria. The trail underfoot was soft and the slopes were pretty gentle most of the way. There were wide meadows all along the route and some pretty pine forests dotted most of the way. A very different feel from the two other volcanoes I had climbed.
I chatted with Carl all along the way and it was absolutely awesome company though we made gentle progress. It would turn out that Carl had a heart surgery just a month ago. Dang, he puts everyone else to shame. The tree line would stop just below the summit and it was a bit of a rocky scramble for the last 20 mins or so and we got to the top. There was not much views to be had given the day was super cloudy, but the walk was pretty enough that I didn’t feel bad about missing the views.
There were a bunch of local people making some prayers up top and we stopped off to grab a bit of lunch,. Carl shared his tomatoes and some cheese and I had some bread to make sandwiches. After an hour or so, we decided to head back and Carl led the entire group of 15 or so locals around the rim of the crater and down the rock scramble.
The descent was not too tedious, though I took it slow and easy as I always did. After a while we parted ways with the locals and headed towards the car park. It was a nice bit of walking and am pretty glad I managed to climb this volcano. Ana and Mark were sweet to let me stay on and carl was awesome company. I can’t think of a more lovely situation to do this climb to be honest.
Route: Xela – Hiking Volcán Tajumulco
Distance: 12.1 km
Ascent: 1101 m
Descent: 1069 m
Expenses: $ 7.92
Comment: Volcano #3! Guatemala has become the hiking destination for me!