I hiked a volcano last month – yes, you read that right. I decided that in 2022 I will push myself outside of my comfort zone, and hiking Volcan de Acatenango was on that list. On January 1st of this year, I made a list of all the places I wanted to travel to and the things I wanted to do when I got there.
I never really imagined traveling to Guatemala, let alone hiking a volcano. So let me tell you how that happened.
I was inspired by a family friend who lives there. For months I dreamed of visiting her and experiencing what Guatemala had to offer. So after a few conversations between her and I, I called her and said “I booked my tickets! I’m coming”. We were both ecstatic!
She told me about the Volcan de Acatenango hiking experience and urged me to do it. At first I was excited, then I was terrified, then I was excited again, and then doubly terrified. I didn’t know what to expect as I had never done such a mentally and physically demanding hike.
After being in Antigua for a couple days and seeing the volcanos surrounding the city, I thought to myself “there’s no way I’m hiking one of those”. I almost backed out of the whole experience but I am so grateful that I pushed myself to do it.
The hike was uphill, all the way until the very end – some of the tour guides told us it would get easier, but it never really did until 5 minutes before reaching the camp. It took me approximately 5 and a half hours to reach the top. As soon as I got there I was so relieved, and I was in awe that I was on top of a volcano. I faced many mental blocks during the hike. There were many moments that I questioned myself, “Why am I doing this?”. Once I got to the top, I remember thinking “finally – I made it” and the “why” started to make sense.
At the top, I was surrounded by nature and 32 amazing people from all walks of life who were a part of my tour group. After resting for an hour, we woke up to watch Volcan de Fuego spew it’s red hot lava (photographed above). We had a bonfire together and sang songs while we watched the active volcano – a magical moment I will never forget.
That night, we slept in our cabins, all wrapped up in thick layers of clothing, blankets and a sleeping bag, but it was still freezing due to the high altitude and winds. Many felt altitude sickness as our bodies are not used to the elevation.
The next morning I woke up to watch the sunrise over Volcan de Agua from our base camp (photographed above). It was in this peaceful moment that I began feeling connected to something greater than me. It was on top of a volcano that I felt most connected to our mother Earth. I felt connected to my ancestors and found myself to be at most peace. The sunrise brought tears to my eyes as I thought of the ones I love and the gift of this precious life I have.
This experience was not one that I ever thought I would have. However, I did it, and I am so proud of myself. Even after the great difficulty it took me to get up, and even greater difficulty to return down the volcano; I would definitely like to experience this again.
I am not an athlete, I do not work out hard core, I am a petite woman but I have a powerful mentality, that is what pushed me the whole way. This experience left me feeling like I can do anything; and if I can do it, so can you! I believe that we only have this one life and all that is guaranteed is right now. It is through discomfort that we experience the most growth. Discomfort is a feeling of the ego trying to cease development, discomfort forces you to change and adapt. If you’re seeking long term success, push your limits! When you are challenged, you will become more than you ever were.