Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Last day of hiking. But it's a good one!

Now into day 5 of our hiking trip. We've done 45 kms (28) miles over the past three days of hiking and we're about to start on our last day of hiking. Day 6 is just a travel day to get us back to Xela.

Before we get into telling you about our last hiking day I just wanted to give you an update of our current travel plans. We're heading out of Xela this morning (Tuesday) and back to Mexico. We're going to take a different route to a different Mexican border crossing near Comitan and then heading to San Cristobal de las Casas for two nights. We hope to post again when we get there this evening.

Okay, back to day 5. So this actually took place on Saturday, February 23rd. We are going to hike to the highest non-volcanic point in Central America!

We got to sleep in a little bit, and we actually had a well deserved decent night's sleep! We were up at 6:45am, and ready for breakfast by 7:15am. Jeronimo's family made breakfast for us and we were served a delicious plate of rice, vegetables, beans, and tortillas. Oh, and coffee!


By 8:10am we were all packed up and ready to go. Part of Quetzaltrekkers agreement with Jeronimo's family is that one of his sons, Dorotello, would guide us across the mountain behind the family property.

Ready to go at 8:10am. Ruth, with her hat on, on the far left. It's a little chilly in the mornings!

One of our group, circled in red so that you can see them!

Cell towers.

Some of these little villages we've been through may not have electricity, but they sure do have cell service! There are cell towers spread all through these hills and while the towers themselves need electricity they typically have a range of about 5 kms. So a lot of Guatemalans, even the traditional Mayans, are carrying cell phones!

Ruth, and one of our guides David, bringing up the rear as we typically do on these steep uphill sections.

Spent some time hiking with the sheep.

As we took a rest break, we could see in the distance the Santa Maria volcano that we had hiked up the weekend before...and a big eruption from Santiaguito!

Kevin, at a nice viewpoint.

Ruth, staying warm at the top. The sun was shining brightly, but it was still a bit chilly if you weren't hiking.

Group photo at the top! We were now at 12,500 feet (3,810 meters), the highest non-volcanic point in Central America.

From there, it was a steep downhill. Very steep in sections, and it was pretty slow going. But really interesting scenery!

But just before the downhill started, we came upon this gorgeous view of the town of Todos Santos where we were going to spend the night...


Steep downhill.

And even steeper downhill!!

Had to go under this massive tree that had fallen over.

Made it to our lunch spot at around 1:00pm. What a neat place!!!

Tired, but Kevin still has enough energy to have some fun. Too funny!

Heading downhill on a maintained trail.

The rest of the hike down was on a maintained trail and it turned out that we were now in the La Maceta Ecological Park, a protected area. We had come at it from the top though, where most people access it from the road below.

They will build a soccer field anywhere they can!

This man and his son are the gatekeepers at the park. They are not wearing uniforms or costumes of any kind. This is the traditional Mayan clothing that many men in the nearby village of Todos Santos wear on a daily basis!

There is more to the day's activities, but we have to cut this entry short. We'll pick it up again in the next update later today!


  1. Sure looks pretty cold out there, but some awesome scenery for sure.

  2. Gorgeous. I still think there should be lots of evergreen trees on the top of a mountain - my Montana upbringing. So it's really interesting to see the difference.

    1. In many places there were lots of pine trees but unfortunately in some places they have been forested too much by the locals. Also some of the hills were quite rocky. We haven't been to Montana yet so it is hard for us to compare the two. We will be going through the eastern part of Montana in April this year though.

  3. What a fabulous hike. I'm so glad you did this so I don't have to! I'm fascinated with the culture of the Mayan people you saw along the way. I can't imagine that lifestyle. It sure would be interesting to hang out with them for some time and see how they get along.
    Beautiful scenery, eh! Loved the photo of the volcano erupting. Imagine if you had been on the mountain right next to it to see that! I bet you would have felt it, too.
    Good luck crossing the border today. I hope it goes easily and you get your paperwork squared away finally.
    Grace (in Tucson)

    1. We loved the hike and definitely one of the highlights was seeing the Mayan people, some of them live a lot like what the pioneers in the United States lived like many years ago, living off the land.

      That particular volcano has been quite active in the last few weeks apparently having bigger eruptions than normal. We were happy to have seen some of them from close up and from afar.

  4. I think I'd need a vacation from that kind of "vacation". Pretty strenuous, so my hat is off to you. (and I'm bowing ever so slightly)

    1. Thank you Bob! Yes, we are quite happy to just take things easy for a few days.

  5. What an adventure - thank you! But a question: If they don't have electricity, how do they charge their cell phones...???

    1. Yep, it was definitely an adventure. Good question, I asked myself the same thing. What we did notice is that most people who had cell phones were in communities that had electricity. The first village we stayed at on the hike (in the school) and the little communities on the Altiplano the next day didn't have power but we also didn't see any of them with cell phones. We did notice a couple of houses on the Altiplano that had one or two small solar panels so I guess if they had cell phones they could recharge them that way.

  6. What a wonderful experience! Eleven miles, rugged miles in a day...good for you!

    1. It was hard work some of the time but definitely worth it.

  7. ok, most of the downhill looks ok, but i'd never make it uphill.
    what a wonderful hike

    1. The last day of downhill was very hard. Some parts were very, very steep. We really had to take small steps and watch our footing carefully. The uphill was just strenuous but the views at the top made it worthwhile.


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