November 17, 2006
Guatemala Hiking Trip Report

Agua and Picaya at Dawn-small.JPG

After the Mont Pelerin Society’s (MPS) closing gala dinner on Thursday night of last week, Ben Powell and Ed Lopez, both professors of economics at San Jose State University, and I awoke (severely hung over!) and hitched a ride with the MPS excursion group to the colonial and touristy village of Antigua about an hour outside Guatemala City. From the village, you could see the massive double peaked volcano Acatenango (13,054’) and to the left of it its twin volcano of Fuego (12,346’). These volcanoes are our goals.

We met our guide Rafael and his sidekick Rudy and drove about an hour to the village of La Soledad where we loaded up our gear and started hiking first through farmland, then jungle, and then grassland/pine forests, and finally through moonscape volcanic sand and rocks. My pack was about 35 lbs. but I’m guessing Rafael and Rudy had twice that weight in their packs. Our goal was to reach Acatenango’s tallest peak and sleep in the crater. Fuego is active and the hope was to get some good nighttime shots of Fuego erupting. Alas just as we reached the saddle in between Acatenango’s two peaks, we heard thunder and felt a storm coming on. We quickly decided to make camp in a nearby stand of trees below the lower summit. It was a good thing too because we barely got the tents pitched before the heavens opened up. It rained for over two hours. After it stopped we ate, broke out the Zacapa Centario rum and enjoyed the eerie fog. We went to bed worried that we’d awaken to a thick fog.

Powell Lawson and Lopez on Acatenango-small.JPG

Luckily we awoke at 4:30 to beautiful clear skies. We hit the summit of Acatenango, after 40 minutes of very hard hiking on steep loose volcanic sand, just before dawn and saw the sun rise over the volcanos Aqua and Pacaya (see pic) and a really cool shadow of our own mountain. From the summit you could see 12 volcanoes from Mexico to El Salvador! Fuego put out a few decent puffs while we were on Acatenango. We also took a hero shot of the three of us on top. Finally we headed down a few thousand feet to the saddle between Acatenango and Fuego, ate breakfast, dumped our heavy packs (to be picked up on the way back) and headed up to Fuego. We managed to get to within about 200-300 meters of the summit. We would have gone closer but the ridgeline trail turned very narrow and in any case you never know when a larger eruption is going to take place. (It was pretty quiet while we were up there.)

fuego small.JPG

Finally, we made a long hard 4 hour hike down and up and around Acatenango’s side back to La Soledad.

Posted by Robert Lawson at 01:20 PM in Sports

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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