‘Just one foot in front of the other….. Just one foot…..
….in front of the other……’
I chanted this over and over again as we made our way back to the beginning of the park nearing the end of our 16km hike in Rincon de la Veija, Costa Rica. Perhaps I thought of it as a ‘active meditation’ to allow myself the ability to survive until we were able to make it out of the park alive. Seek water and sustenance. Hey, I’d be happy to just GET OUT of the park seeing it had already closed 2 hours prior and we were the last two people left inside the 141-sq-km park.
(Or on earth, so it had seemed).
Let me make this clear. Setting off that morning upon our ‘adventure’ through what they called the ‘Enchanted Forest’ in Rincon de la Veija (more like Wizard of Oz’s ‘Haunted Forest’ with tormenting TREES that started talking to you after dehydration set in) we had not for a single moment prepared ourselves for such a trek upon some of the steepest trails we have ever climbed. Nor brought enough water.
In fact, we didn’t even heed the ‘red tape’ warning that was clearly draped in front of the path before we EVEN started the climb. Huh, its all starting to make sense now……..
But what we did bring was a different kind of thirst to quench. Just two days prior we had opened up a magazine and gazed with wide eyes at gatorade blue lagoons, epic waterfalls and raw and untouched jungles of Northwestern Costa Rica. We were anxious to see if what was in those pages could come to life right before us like a children’s pop up picture book.
The area was described as an uncrowded and remote park (two of the very most desired words when it comes to travel for the likes of us ‘Wyatt’s’) & the name means ‘old lady’s nook.’ It was named after the steamy main attraction, Volcan Rincon de la Vieja. (And still active, last erupted in 2012!) The park exhales geothermal energy. It literally bubbles with multi-hued fumaroles, (an opening in the planets crust) tepid springs and steaming flatulent mud pots (think eau de hot rotton eggs), as well as a young and fiesty volcancito (small volcano’s). I mean c’mon….you had me at fumaroles……………………………..
For a Scratch & Sniff (Rotton Egg) Look at Mud Pot’s Click Here:
Immediately, because we could- we decided in a world of people constantly talking about how ‘wouldn’t it be nice TO……..’ we’d say ‘why not’ and DO! I sincerely endeavor you to try this, I promise you the joy you will feel inside as you venture upon something that wasn’t ‘previously scheduled’ will cause your heart to do a a Triple Salchow into the Pamchenko.
After our 23km climb from Liberia up a very bizarre stretch of blinding white stone road we stayed at lodge on the top of the mountain called Rinconcito Lodge which was inexpensive, stunning and only 3km’s from the park. Whats the catch? (There is always a catch in Costa Rica) There are no eateries in the area….. no corner markets…. no sodas….. (Small local eatiers), nadda. So you have to rely on their $12+ lunches & $15 per person buffet dinner each night to see you through. OR you can manage off of your sneaky little gas grill and food in your styrofoam cooler for three days in your room and have them ALL scratching their heads when you check out as to how on EARTH you managed to have $0 on your bill and still look so healthy.
‘TIS THE WYATT WAY!’
I’ll tell you what ALSO is the “Wyatt Way’ ….. that 16km hike we thought we meander along on that next day when we arrived in the park. Somehow, seeing & smelling eggy mud pots and getting feisty with the volancito’s just weren’t enough….. I heard there were hot springs that were reported to have ‘therapeutic properties.’ Intriguing….. Perhaps it would give me a few years back from what I took the last few days in Tamarindo on the Pacific coast celebrating with friends? Regardless, we were on a mission. How FAR could 8km’s really be? STRAIGHT up a rocky mountain in 99% humidity…………. and back. That’s how.
Well I will tell you one triumph. We were literally the ONLY ones to make it to those Hot Springs that day as we didn’t see ONE SINGLE OTHER person on that climb. For almost six hours it was just us and the ‘haunted forest of OZ’ as we stubbornly pushed on. And then….. like a mirage (and we almost thought it was) it appeared out before us:
There were 3 pools, one hot- one warm and then other cold. It was incredibly sulfurous, but extremely magical. We had the entire Hot Springs to ourselves and waded in its clear, smooth minerally-like water. We looked at each other like we were some kind of rock-stars- finding something that only a few got to encounter in their lifetime….. but that smugness didn’t last long….. and then like a chord gone wrong it all came crashing in that we had to make the 8km hike back and there was no way we were going to make it back in time for park hours it was 2:30pm- park closed at 3pm……………. DOOMED.
Perhaps they got the phrase wrong- maybe its the last one ‘smells’ Rotton Eggs??
It must have been just after 5pm when we managed to muster (more like crawl) out of the trail and back towards the entrance when we realized we really truly were the only ones left in the 141-sq-km park. Daunting, but also quite a sensation. Thrilling, really. No school groups, no foreign families or silly couples with their matching fanny packs…… PEACE.
…. and that’s when it happened.
Out of nowhere a magnificent rainbow came upon us like you could almost touch it. And then I think I almost did.
………………….And all because we were the only one’s left smelling the ‘rotton egg’s.’
March 11th, 2016
March 14th, 2016