Hiking Dude Blog
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We were woken this morning by a man walking a loaded donkey past our open window at about 5:15. At the same time, all the birds in the neighborhood began chirping, squawking, and singing.
We took a short walk around the village to see the birds. When we returned, we went with Venturo to feed his cows and see some of his farmland. After that, we had a massive breakfast of eggs, sausage, rice, beans, fried cheese, watermelon, pineapple, papaya, peach juice and I'm sure more that I don't recall. We were told that this is a typical breakfast but I'm still not convinced.
We said our goodbyes to our family and hiked to meet the rest of our group at Finca Via Lig. There, we had a very interesting tour of their butterfly and cricket farm facilities. Then, our day hike started at around 9:20.
Today was only about 13km on gravel road up a large mountain and then down to our destination. The long climb was nice with cool shade along the way and the view over the bowl holding the village got more grand with every step upward.
Once we were over the pass at the top, a long grind down the south side gave up more views of sugar cane, coffee, and cattle farms all the way down to La Suiza. This town has the first stop light I've seen in a week!
All 11 of us (9 + 2 guides) are being housed in a rented private house tonight, so we'll have time to socialize and relax.
(Please check the Instagram pics on the home page for photos of the days)
Our 18km hike took only 6 hours, including a relaxing lunch break at a restaurant along the route. We started around 9:20am and could have gone farther since we ended at 3:30 but the group decided to stick with the itinerary.
I enjoyed learning about the extensive canal system created to fill a massive hydro electric reservoir as we climbed above the artificial river and through more extensive sugar and coffee fields.
We walked through a few small villages and one very affluent large town. A church with a most colorful outdoor basketball court caught my eye. It's interesting how many different paint colors exist - and you can see all of them here, I believe.
Our trek guides, Steven and Samuel, did another wonderful day of work, leading us around the countryside. My highlight of the day was to skip rocks and swim across a kayaking river with them at the end of the day. Our lodging at Rio del Villa is just on the hillside overlooking this river. After the child river, I skipped a cold shower but our simple dinner of chick pea soup was nice and hot.
Tomorrow is a long, challenging day.
The forecast keeps saying a high chance of rain but we've had none the first eight days. When we reached our lodge this afternoon, a drizzle started and we enjoyed watching it from our covered patio.
We've stayed at some great places on this 'trek' and tonight's lodging is the newest with very nice rooms with hot showers. Every rest stop has had wonderful, friendly, gracious staff or hosts making us feel welcome. Last night, we just asked "do you have ice?" for our soda we had with us. The hostess said "yes". 15 minutes later, a car pulled up and a guy ran up with a bag of ice. I have no idea how far he came or what it cost. So, we are now careful what we ask about!
Anyway, we had breakfast at 6 to get in a shuttle van at 6:30 and start hiking at 7:15. We have 10 people plus the driver in our van rides from the trailhead to our lodging. Some of the drivers are like bats out of hell and some of the vans are held together with piano wire and prayers. But, it all adds to the adventure.
Today's hike was somewhere over 20km but estimates range from 24 to 26 kilometers. We finished in under 8 hours including a short lunch break right on the trail rather than a restaurant. It was a serious long uphill over a mountain range followed by a long downhill into the next valley. The beginning and end of our day was on paved road with the rest degrading to a rocky path in the middle section.
Being a Sunday, there were many people frolicking in the rivers we crossed. We also encountered a lot of bike riders, motorcyclists, cars, and even a pair of horse riders.
I found a big chunk of sugar cane along the trail so it was hacked up and shared at a break.
We passed the half way point today which makes it hard to figure out how we reach the Pacific in fewer days, but we'll see how it goes. We still have not reached the highest point of the trail so there is more elevation to gain.
We have been pleasantly surprised to find that many of the places we stay will have our clothes washed for a small fee. It's quite a luxury to have clean clothes nearly every day!
The food today was finally a reasonable amount instead of way too much. An egg and fruit breakfast, sandwich lunch on the trail, and chicken vegetable soup for dinner were all tasty and plenty of calories, especially with a couple snack breaks thrown in. I might have actually burned it all off today.
We crossed a bridge with a sign bolted to it stating it was by the U.S. Steel Export Company and built in 1941 (WW2 era). Another traffic warning sign said it was in a poor state and only 1 vehicle should cross at a time.
No injuries, no drama, everyone seems to be doing well so hopefully the rain stops overnight and we continue on tomorrow.
We began the day with a great breakfast with bean burrito, small egg bake cup, toast, and lots of fruit - watermelon cantaloupe papaya banana pineapple and mango.
Our 16km hike was up a mountain and down the other side, ending with some fairly flat walking across the valley and up a final draw to a lodge in the low hills.
We hiked up the mountain along an extensive water project that delivers water from a high mountain reservoir to the population below. Our guide explained that access to potable water is a right to all citizens of Costa Rica.
We saw quite a collection of birds through the morning, including tanningers, hawks, hummingbirds, and others. As we left town, three small dogs joined us. They guided us for our entire hike and we have no idea if they returned home the 16km or are just sleeping somewhere out there tonight.
We traversed a large coffee plantation with it's own community of worker houses. Crossing a small foot bridge over a creek, we arrived in Navarro around 1pm. Our hosts provided a nice lunch of vegetables and rice and then everyone got settled, took showers, and relaxed.
It is quite a bit cooler here since we are higher into the mountains. Our dinner of vegetable and sausage soup with rice was perfect for a chilly evening.
You can see our progress at Hikers Social
Much of today was on gravel road, but the highlight was a slow, careful walk on a narrow jungle trail with Nelson. He is a fungus expert and is passionate about mushrooms!
Part of the trail was used in the 1948 civil war by fighters as a secret route to move equipment and Nelson's great-grandfather was one of them. Along the way, we saw a few fungi but also some flowers, birds, and a pair of spider monkeys.
Coming out of the jungle, we visited a hummingbird garden and had a nice lunch at Nelson's parent's house high on the mountain looking over the valley below.
The road walks were steep as usual but we seem to be getting used to them. We again avoided rain today as it sprinkled after we reached our lodging spot.
This place is a brand new spa resort area with a gathering lodge and many beautiful cabins. It will be difficult to outdo this rest stop on the rest of the trek. There were many birds and even a coati to watch as we relaxed on the veranda before dinner. Dinner was salmon and potatoes and very good.
We only have 4 more hiking days so people in our group are starting to look towards the end. Two of these days appear to be our hardest, longest ones and some pains are developing, so there is icing and stretching and a little worrying going on in the group.
You can see our progress at Hikers Social
Part of this section is walking along one of the most busy roadways in the country. To eliminate most of that stressful part, we had an additional guide join us to lead us over a new dirt road that only he knows about. This new part was so steep that my heels did not touch the ground, only the balls of my feet.
It appears there are no rules, or even guidelines, for road construction in Costa Rica. They are narrow, steep, rough, and windy. So, even though much of this Camino is on road, they are often more like wide trails.
But, a good chunk of today's 30km hike was along a paved road with very little shoulder. Worst part of the trek so far with trucks roaring past just inches away. There are so many pedestrians that it seems vehicles expect them and we had no close calls.
Being a long hike, most of us were tired out by the end of our walk. About a third of our group had complaints of gastrointestinal problems or leg pains. Everyone completed our walk and I hope they are feeling better in the morning.
We are stayng at a hotel with separate cabins in a town. It's is nice and quiet so I hope to have a better sleep than last night.
Food continues to be tasty and plentiful. The weather this afternoon was ominous with rolling thunder during our hike but only a few sprinkles of rain before clearing out in the evening.
You can see our progress at Hikers Social
We had great, cool weather most of the day with clouds billowing all around us but no rain. The wind was very strong at points.
Learning how the coffee is picked, measured, transported, and processed was interesting. Seeing actual workers laboring in the sun on the steep hillsides was sobering.
Our hike ended with a nice lunch at a home on a mountain with views far out over the valley. From there, a shuttle took us to our lodging in a different town. Tonight, it is a private house being rented out.
I don't think I'll ever really figure out how to get a hot shower in Costa Rica. The electric heater in the showerhead is a great idea but seems impossible for me to regulate.
You can see our progress at Hikers Social and pictures on Instagram
Our hike started up on a ridgeline with swallow-tailed kites riding the wind above us. At about 8am, we got our first view of the Pacific Ocean 13 days after walking away from the Caribbean Sea!
Once we began the long descent towards the coast, the humidity skyrocketed. Low, stifling clouds and warmth from the sun made a great sauna experience. Our support vehicle stopping with cold drinks and snacks occasionally made it much more bearable.
Most of our hike was on remote dirt roads through lush rain forest but 27km of mostly steep descents wow on legs that had been hiking for 12 days already.
Lunch was at a very remote home of a man that left the city life to subside off the land. The view from his lofty shelter was wonderful. The home grown vegetable meal was also delicious. After lunch, he led us on a faint jungle trail back to the main route. In this thick jungle, the humidity was obvious and did not let up until the end of the day.
With occasional glimpses of the coast to motivate us, we hiked on eventually reaching a most wonderful destination for the night.
Rudy has created a bird sanctuary to conserve lands and education people. It is over 100 acres of land set aside from encroachment and open to visitors to learn about pretty much all things conservation-minded in Costa Rica. He is extremely passionate and had a great small staff to provide a memorable experience. And, they have the best hot shower that over had on the past 2 weeks!
After a nice chat about conversation and a most wonderful chicken dinner, it has cooled down considerably and is now finally pleasant. But, honestly, I believe today was probably the most humid hike I've ever done. The jungle was alive with the sounds of cicadas and birds at times, and this is what I was expecting when contemplating a hike across Costa Rica. I'm just glad every day was not like this.
As I'm writing this before bed, I have huge cicadas flying about and landing on me. Nature everywhere!
You can see our progress at Hikers Social
We did stop at a store for fresh coconut water - a straw poked in a hole in the coconut! That was refreshing.
Reaching the end of the trail around 1:30 at the ocean in Quepos was sudden and fulfilling. With no more land to walk on, we could take our time the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying our success.
You can see photos on Instagram
On my hike across Costa Rica, there was never a lack of lush plant life. From the warm, humid coastlands over the cooler mountain ranges, thick forest and jungle could be found everywhere except where bananas, pineapples, coffee, and palm trees had been planted. There were many exotic plants which I had not seen before and a rainbow of colors in the flowers.
Here is a sample of the exotic plants and flowers from along the trail.
(I didn't notice the small insect until preparing these photos :-) )
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Feb 13, 2020 - Jason Berklund
Feb 13, 2020 - Hiking Dude
Getting to the northern terminus is expensive (in my mind). If you can schedule correctly, Arrowhead Transit is cheapest to Grand Marais, but then Harriet Quarles is the only shuttle I know of. You might find a good ol' boy in Grand Marais willing to drive you the 35 miles to the end for a few $$$.
It's a 3 hour drive from Duluth - that's 6 hours and 300 miles round-trip. Maybe your friend would like to drive up the north shore for a day.
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