We were up at 5:30am eating breakfast (our hosts drew the short straw there, poor things) and then on our way into town by 6am to meet our private guide and stock up on at least 3 litres of water for the hike. It turns out we could only carry 2 litres each. I was basically carrying as less as possible having realised by now this was going to be no walk in the park. We started hiking at 6:45am and the first 45 minutes to an hour were a steady climb. Once we got into the rainforest, the wind died down but the heat increased. I was warned we would always be climbing with little to no flats to ease out the cramp in my calves, so stopping for regular water breaks was essential. Howler monkeys egged us on and every time I felt like quitting, a beautiful butterfly would float past and spur me on. Our guide, Enoch, was ultra fit. He'd been in the Nicaraguan army for 4 years and their training consisted of running up and down both volcanoes on the island. So while he made it look like a piece of a cake, Olivia and I struggled higher and higher trying to keep up with him. Olivia did a better job than I did. At times, I thought I was going to keel over. I wanted to keel over! Lots of being short of breath, stumbling, falling, scraping limbs and that horrible heart pounding in your ears when you think your head is going to explode. There's no real path, more just a track and, in some parts, especially when you get out of the forest, it's pretty hairy scrambling with the wind battering you. I guessed coming down would be even harder and oh boy, it was. Substitute all the above with legs that don't want to work anymore. Mine were so shaky; I lost count of the times I skidded, slid and fell on my bum.
After spending some time admiring the view from 1200m, I thought I'd better drop back down to the relative flat of 1000m. I knew it was going to take me some time, especially when I veered off course and had to scramble back across the rock face and through the thick scrub. Great, more scratches! Eventually I made it and found the best place I could out of the wind for a 20 minute power nap. Ended up badly burning my nose though, oh dear. I thought the dust on my face would protect me from the raging sun.