Cerro Chirripó: Day 1

Last Friday, I wrote a quick blog post about my second long weekend plans which entailed hiking to the tallest peak, Cerro Chirripó, with two friends: Audrey and Hannah.

On Friday morning, I woke up at 5:00 am to get around quickly. I ate a quick breakfast of cereal put out by my mama tica. In Spanish, she told me that I needed to take lots of pictures and report back on whether or not she would be capable of doing the hike herself. Before saying farewell, she wrapped me in a big hug.

At 5:45 am, I headed out the door and headed to the train station to meet Hannah and Audrey. When 6:13 am rolled around, the three of us hopped onto the crowded train with our packed backpacks to head to San Jose. Once in San Jose, Hannah navigated the three of us to the bus station which was a 20-minute walk. We happened to be early, so the three of us chatted about our upcoming adventure.

At 7:30 am, our 3 hour bus journey began to the town of San Isidro de General. The bus wound through the Costa Rican mountains, which were absolutely stunning but made my stomach turn.

Around 10:30 am, our bus arrived to San Isidro. The three of us disembarked and went in search of the other bus terminal. After asking for directions at the tourist office, we managed to find the bus terminal. At the bus terminal, we frantically began searching for the only public bus that goes to San Gerardo de Rivas. It was imperative we get on this specific public bus because we had to check in with the park rangers before hiking the following day. Our other option if we missed the bus was to take a taxi, which is super expensive!

Because we did not see the bus, Hannah ended up asking a shopkeeper where the bus pulled into and he kindly told us the information. Soon after, the bus pulled into the parking space at the bus terminal and everyone began boarding.

During the 1-hour bus ride, many ticos got on and off the bus like any public bus. This was the first time, however, I felt a small-town feeling in Costa Rica. The passengers called out to one another and carried on conversations. I could tell the route was local and specific to the small town. An elderly woman sat down next to me at one point. I ended up helping her out by pushing the stop button so she could get off. The funniest part of the bus ride happened to be when we passed by a school bus. A boy looking out the window said to me “HOLA GRINGA,” which made me laugh!

Around 12:30 pm, Audrey, Hannah, and I got off the bus and walked to the ranger station only to find them on lunch break. We took the opportunity to eat our packed lunches too.

When 1:00 pm rolled around, the three of us headed to the front desk and got checked in with the park ranger. Said park ranger then informed us that we needed to go to the next park ranger station next to the soccer field to get more paperwork related to our base camp reservation. So, we began our trek on the road to ranger station #2. There, Hannah, Audrey, and I got our meal tickets and papers to stay in the base camp.

With all of our necessary and required paperwork in hand, Audrey navigated us to our accommodation for the night: Casa Mariposa. Unbeknownst to us, the walk to Casa Mariposa was long and uphill, which we did not know. Right as the three of us arrived at the doorstep of Casa Mariposa, the sky let loose and it began to pour.

Jill, the owner, welcomed us into Casa Mariposa where the three of us instantly fell in love. The hostel/bed and breakfast fusion of a place had so much rustic character and was nestled into the lush Costa Rican forest. Jill, as we found out, is originally from Seattle. 12 years ago, she and her husband had stayed at Casa Mariposa during a vacation. The owner some time later, tracked Jill and her husband down in the states and asked if they would be interested in purchasing the property. Jill’s husband was up for the challenge and the two acquired the place. Over the years, Jill explained her husband and herself had put a lot of time and thought into updating and adding onto Casa Mariposa. Her husband during the remodeling and expanding tried to keep everything as organic and natural as possible. As a result, Audrey, Hannah, and I were flabbergasted when we entered our room for the night and saw that the beds were a part of the rock.

After getting settled, Jill gave us a breakdown of the rules at Casa Mariposa and recommendations for the hike to Cerro Chirripó. She recommended that we begin at 5:00 am in the morning, which would get us to base camp in early afternoon. Luckily for us, Casa Mariposa is roughly 50 meters from the trail head, which meant we would not waste much time beginning the hike. For breakfast, she suggested something light, like oatmeal, which we had brought with us. Additionally, Jill told us what clothing pieces the three of us should have and what we could borrow from Casa Mariposa’s communal closet. Her musts were a winter hat, gloves, rain poncho, windbreaker, and a bamboo walking stick (one per person). Jill informed us of what we could buy at Casa Mariposa food-wise (boiled eggs, trail mix, etc.) and that we could pay $2 for a shower once we returned from Cerro Chirripó if we desired.

With a general game plan in mind, Hannah, Audrey, and I spent the rest of the rainy afternoon talking with the other guests at Casa Mariposa. A couple from Germany had just completed the hike, so they offered some great advice on when we should leave for sunrise at Cerro Chirripó, earlier than 3:30 am. An English couple gave some recommendations on what to do in Boquete, Panama, while there for our visa renewal. A group of ticos arrived soon after us and went to sleep promptly thereafter as they planned to begin hiking at 10:00 pm Friday night to reach the summit by sunrise Saturday at 4:45 am and then return in the afternoon on Saturday.

Because of the rain and the fact that Casa Mariposa was a 2 km walk from the town, the three of us decided to order pizza for carb-loading purposes and have it delivered. Great decision!

Hannah, me, and Audrey with our Hawaiian pizza with fresh pineapple!

After pizza, the three of us got around for bed and went to sleep around 7:30 am in anticipation of waking up at 4:00 am for breakfast and getting around.

I had a fitfull night of sleep due to nerves, anxiety, and excitement about beginning the hike. All in all, I think I managed 5ish hours of sleep. All too soon, my 4:00 am alarm went off.

Stop back tomorrow for day one of hiking!

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo

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