El Hoyo.

“Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

Oh, how my heart needed to strap on my backpack and walk. For miles. And miles. And miles.

The outdoors are therapy in its truest form.

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Here are some pictures from a weekend trip I took a little while back with other PCVs to El Hoyo and Laguna del Tigre in Leon.

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We started out the hike by opting out of private transportation to the trail head, which meant walking on volcanic-ash roads and through very rural communities for 2.5 hours just to reach the park entrance.

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Then the climb started. Above is the first hill we hit, after bushwacking our way through some brush. (PCVs using the actual trail? Never. Where’s the fun in that?!)

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That first hill was about a 30° incline, but the views were spectacular. This is looking back at Cerro Negro and the rest of the Cordillera de los Maribios mountain range (other volcanoes). If you look closely, you can see people volcano boarding down the side of it.

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One of many rest stops.

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Finally reached our destination after 6+ hours of hiking: El Hoyo. It literally means ‘The Hole’.IMG_4181 (800x533)

The circlar area shown above with the tree was where we camped, the Laguna del Tigre is beyond that.IMG_4193 (800x533)

Sediment layers inside El Hoyo.

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Horses taking a snack break at the top of the volcano.IMG_4248 (800x533)

View from our campsite up to the Hoyo.IMG_4290 (800x356)

The crew watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean in the distance.IMG_4272 (800x533)

After a quick bonfire and makeshift dinners (keep in mind we didn’t really pack any sort of actual camping gear), we crammed into our borrowed tents. I got to snuggle up in a two person tent with two other folks both over 6′ feet  tall. It was a cozy night for sure. Also, yoga mats make great sleeping pads.IMG_4348 (800x533)

We woke up at 4am the next morning to make the windy and difficult climb to the very top summit of the volcano to enjoy what could have been a beautiful sunrise. Instead, Nicaragua decided on a cloudy morning, so we just enjoyed the beautiful light and chance to take a quick catnap.

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 So nice to wear a jacket and long pants for the first time in about 6 months.

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Early morning light on our trek back to the camp site.IMG_4375 (800x533)

To say the scenery was beautiful would be a drastic understatement. The random assortment of trees, animals and beautiful volcanoes in the background was phenemonal. Nevermind the blistering wind, the insect sting on my eye, and thinking we had lost our group for two hours. It was worth it.IMG_4392 (800x533)

After some quick breakfast and outdoor yoga, we packed up camp and headed down the other side of the volcano to find the laguna. IMG_4412 (531x800)

We ended up trekking through a family’s farm and getting a little turned around, but thankfully the campo has amazing folks such as this cowboy who not only pick up dropped waterbottles and ride them down to you, but give you good directions, too.

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After another 4 hours of hiking through dense forest and rocky trails, we reached the laguna. A more glorious swim was never had. A quick lunch, waiting for the rest of our group to catch up, then it was time to pack up again and hike the last 45 minutes out to the highway. We ended up not finding a bus back, but hitched a ride with a police officer back to the highway.

Sweet, sweet adventure.