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Hike up a Volcano

I was turning 65 and though it would be a good idea to commemorate  my birthday by hiking up Volcan Baru an official  national park in Panama. Vulcan Baru is the 12th highest peak in central America sitting at 11,397 feet and and as a volcano, last erupted in 1550.  

I conducted meticulous research, days of preparation and weeks of physical training that would cripple Captain America.  Living in Panama I have been practicing my Spanish, so when I looked at the park website I though I knew enough to be able to get the information I needed. I  believed the website said 8.5 miles for the total hiking distance, wrong!  I missed a word and it was one way for a total distance of 19 MILES!  I figured this error out at mile 7 on the way up, too late to quit then. 

For safety you are required to send an email 48 hours in advance requesting authorization to hike.  That is checked on a list by the park ranger a the entrance to the park.

The trail is actually considered a road, but I have seen better goat trails in Iraq. Vehicles can go up and down, but only with four wheel drive and a knowledgable off road driver.  The scenery on the route varied with a combination of high close vegetation on the sides, to open and beautiful scene as seen below at the 2.5 mile mark. 


Along the way there were several vehicles that went up and down and a bus carrying tourists to a farm (Finca el Oasis) about 3 miles up the trail that provided Zip Lines, animal farm and coffee plantation.  The coffee grown in the area cost over $1000 / lb. in 2020.  The reason for this is that the volcano’s in the area over millions of years erupted, cooled and erupted providing a very rich soil for the cultivation of crops and especially coffee.   

Mile 3 was the only area that had any decent flat surfaces during the hike, so it wasn’t too bad, but then there was mile #5.  Not one inch of that stretch had a flat surface. You walked up and even the turn was rocks with a constant incline. If it wasn’t for the fact I wore boots, I would have injured myself somehow.

 When you approach the top where the weather station is you must go right to continue up for the last .5 miles. There you can see the bowl of the volcano. To make it to the top the trail breaks down into just rocks that some need both hands and feet to navigate.

The equipment I brought with me:  

  • 1. Prometheus EDC (Brass) Light
  • 2. EagleTac Mark II Tactical Flash Light
  • 3. Orris BattenkillOrvis Battenkill Backpack
  • 4. Salomon Hiking Boots
  • 5. Casio ProTrak 600 watch
  • 6. Big Design EDC (Brass) Pen, Note pad
  • 7. Medical Kit (Maxpedition Janus Extension Pocket)
  • 8. Wore Jeans
  • 9 Wore Patagonia shirt, brought extra T0Shirt
  • 10. 2 liters water, 2 GatorAid, 1 Coke.
  • 11. Granola snacks
  • 12. Toilet paper (emergency use only)
  • 13. Passport, credit card, $100 cash
  • 14. iPhone with hiking trail oaded for reference.

To end this I would like to make a few observations: 

 The trail is rough with few breaks. Hiking sites listed it as difficult but doable within 4 hours, BS, took me 5.5 and I’m a walking god.

The park is a national historic site and the day I went there were over 20 people going up and down with the ranger telling me it was a slow day. Would it kill them to put a better road in?

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