Published: May 2nd 2017
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Today we set out to hike to the top of Mt. Telica, an active volcano not too far from León. I'd been in contact with Quetzaltrekkers over the past few weeks and originally they weren't planning to do this trek today. Fortunately, there were another couple of Canadians who also had this specific date in mind so we met the minimum number and they decided to run with it. Quetzaltrekkers is a local agency that donates their profits to local street kids and most of the people who work there are volunteers. We met up at their extremely messy office at 6am and met our guides Mo & Eric and our fellow Canadian trekkers Brian and Dara. I'd chosen Volcán Telica as it is one of most active in Nicaragua and the fact that you can camp just below the crater made the journey all the more appealing. Plus, I try to include as many volcano hikes as possible when travelling with my geologist wife 😊

After packing our bags with copious amounts of water, food and camping supplies we set off for the local bus station where we caught a chicken bus to San Jacinto where our hike was to begin. After applying another layer of sun-screen and checking out the bubbling mud pools at San Jacinto, we began our 4+ hour trek across minimally shaded forests and wide open fields. It was unbelievably hot. Halfway through, we hit the challenging part of the hike; "Happy Hour" as Eric called it. The views got better and better as our legs began to ache more and more. Several times during this hour I thought "I'm getting too old for this sh**" aka Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. Had it not been so hot, or had we not been carrying so much weight it would have been much easier. Eventually we persevered.

Near the top of the ascent we stopped for lunch and a well-deserved nap. After lunch we continued on to the top and were rewarded with an awesome view of Telica in all her glory. The last 1/4 of the hike was reasonably easy and we arrived at our campsite with plenty of time to take a break. There was an enterprising local selling cold coke and beer ... anything cold was good at this point but I saved buying a beer until later. We eventually set-up our tents in a clearing within view of the mountain. Eric and Mo disagreed as to which side of the volcano had the best view, so we decided to go see both. Eric stayed back to make dinner while Mo took us around to his favourite side of the mountain. There was an absolutely stellar view of the range of mountains to the west and a very cool cliff. Ann was in her element picking up rocks all over the place. Mo had lots of questions also as his knowledge of the area was surficial and he wanted to learn more. Before sunset we went past the crater to the other side of the mountain ... you could literally walk right up to the edge of the crater and the wind was blowing gently pushing the plume away from us. We made it over to the other side of the mountain just in time to catch a lovely sunset overlooking the Maribios volcano chain in the distance. The moon was rising behind us and as we walked back it rose off the horizon.

In the twilight we could just make out the magma pool through the smoke enveloping the 120m deep crater. It was a brief view but very cool. We descended back to our campsite where Eric had a delicious meal waiting for us. I cracked my beer and enjoyed dinner and conversation with our group as well as 2 American's who'd done a similar trek with another company. After dinner we roasted marshmallows and headed back up to the crater to try to get another glimpse of lava in the dark. The smoke was thicker so there wasn't much to see, but very cool to be able to stand at the edge of an active volcano in the middle of Nicaragua. We didn't even need flashlights on the descent as the nearly full moon lit our path brilliantly.

We were all quite tired from the long day and crashed as soon as we returned to camp. We woke early to climb a nearby rise to see the sunrise. We also got to check-out the tiny monitoring station located here and take some more great photos of the surroundings. After a quick breakfast, we were on the trail by 6:30am. The "happy hour" hike was much easier to descend especially with lighter packs and in the comparatively cool temperature of the morning. I believe we hiked about 2-hours to the pick-up spot and we were back in León before 10am.

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