Halfway up Mt. Chirripo, I realize I look like Gandalf.

The hike up Costa Rica’s “Middle Earth,” a.k.a. Mt. Chirripo (12, 533 ft), would have been impossible without the walking stick. The mountain is relentlessly steep and unbelievably muddy. You gain about 6,000 feet of elevation the first day. “Lightheaded” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Notice the mud? From that point on it only got worse. Also notice the pack cover. It drizzled on and off the entire time on the way up. Then, the next day, it poured THE ENTIRE TIME ON THE WAY BACK TO THE BOTTOM. I guess I’m happy it rained on the way down, soaking my clothes and getting through my pack cover, rather than this happening on the way towards spending the night in the freezing cold up above 11, 000 feet.

There was this jungle-like environ on the lower altitudes of the mountain.

The surroundings become more alpine the higher up you go. When this picture was taken, I am smiling not because I was happy, but because I was having altitude symptoms. My hiking partner said I became overall more agreeable and less cranky as compared to earlier portions of the hike. Also, around this point in the hike (at approximately 10,000 feet, but keep in mind that the hike begins in the morning at only approximately 5,000 feet), I could not, no matter how hard I tried, keep track of where we were in the hike. The Chirripo National Park people are accommodating enough to give you a really nice marker at every single kilometer on the trail. Here’s an example.

Past 10 kilometers I could not remember whether we hiking K #10 or K #11 etc. So, I make a really agreeable hiking partner at high altitude, but not a very reliable one if you need help with navigation. The lesson I learned from Mt. Chirripo is that in the future, I should be looking to hike mountains that provide more time for acclimitization and do not have such drastic initial elevation gains. By the next morning, I felt completely back to normal. The rest of the pictures here are from day 2 on the way from the camp towards the summit. The following two pictures are my Gandalf glamour shots that I like to make fun of. Can you believe it my mom actually framed this one and hung it up in the kitchen:

This next one is hilarious with the hand on the hip. Oh look I don’t even need the walking stick here on this flat level part.

Chirripo offers great views once you get towards the top and break out of the jungle:

The summit of the mountain is literally just up and to the right of that picture.

I’ll save pictures of my celebrations at the summit for another time. When it comes to my hikes and my travels in general, I’m more interested in “the way there,” rather than the destination.

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2 Comments on “Halfway up Mt. Chirripo, I realize I look like Gandalf.”

  1. Karen August 3, 2011 at 14:14 #

    You look great! Only the walking stick is homage to Gandalf – lol! Great Pix, Marisa 😉


  1. Top 5 backpacker hostels in Central America, according to me « 256 Days in a Pickup Truck - September 12, 2011

    […] coolest place I have ever stayed, nestled right at the foot of Mt. Chirripo– please see my older post about summiting this mountain after an overnight […]

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