I just had an AMAZING weekend! I went hiking with my friends Leslie and Deanna to Pico Duarte, which is the highest peak in the Caribbean and east of the Mississippi River! It was SUCH a fun weekend just being out in the middle of nowhere, enjoying the mountains, and actually having complete silence for once!
On Friday we drove to the town of La Ciénaga (1,110m) which is at the base of the mountain. Leslie has a friend who is working in this town with the Peace Corps, so he got us all settled with passes and our guide (you are not allowed to hike the mountain without hiring a guide and a mule), and we hung out at his house and got dinner! We stayed the night at base camp, but we got there at like 10pm (too late apparently) and had to stay in this really old building….definitely NOT a good night sleep! It was really gross and dirty, and I woke up constantly throughout the night because we could hear rats running around. Leslie even woke up once because she felt something drop from the ceiling onto her sleeping bag! It was not fun, and we were definitely ready to get out of there!! (This picture is me at Peter's house with some of the homemade weights he made with some boys in his town!! haha!)
Saturday morning we woke up super early to get ready to begin our hike. We hiked 18.1K to La Compartición (2,450m) which is the main camp. It took us about 7 hours, and we were so exhausted by the time we got there! There was a main building where everyone slept, basically just a big room with cement floor, so we quickly claimed some good spots along the wall before we got stuck in the middle! Food preparation was probably the most hilarious thing at Comparticion--we had to cook our food on a fogón, which is just a big pot over the fire. We brought Quinoa and vegetables for dinner, and were getting ready to cook it while all the Dominican guides were in there cooking their dinner as well--and they were so freaked out by what we were cooking! We tried to explain to them how good it is, but they just said it was some weird American food and refused to try it! Finally, we got our guide, Abolito, to try it, and he LOVED it! He even got all the other guides to try some, and they were very impressed! After dinner we made s’mores (substituting Nutella for hersheys chocolate), and forced Abolito to try one of those, and he proceeded to eat 3! Needless to say, he could not make fun of our food any more! We also met these really nice Germans who are a part of the German version of the Peace Corps here, and decided to hike the next morning with them! After dinner, we were SO tired, so we got ready for bed, but when we looked at our watches we realized it was only 7:30!! We went to bed anyways, because we were planning to get up at 3 the next morning to hike to the peak before sunrise!
Sunday morning, we got up in the FREEZING cold (I had on as many layers as possible!) and began our 3:30am hike to the peak. We made it to the top just in time for a beautiful sunrise (totally worth it!) and hiked down as fast as we could to go make a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee over the fire! After our breakfast break we left at 9:40 to hike back down the mountain. Overall, on Sunday we hiked for 12 hours, and covered 18 miles!
The hike to Pico Duarte is usually supposed to be a 3 day hike, but we decided to do it in 2 so that we could have Monday as a rest day, because we have no school on Monday for Dominican Labor Day! Overall the hike was 28.7 miles. We were pretty proud of ourselves, and our guide was definitely impressed!