The hike is, by and large, uphill, as you reach an elevation of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet). There are nearly 20 river crossings to be made. Towards the end of the third day, you will climb about 1,200 often treacherously slippery stone steps until you reach the spectacular terraces of Ciudad Perdida. For many this sight makes all the sweat, fatigue, and mosquito bites worthwhile. Moon Travel Guides
I have made my list and am starting to pack for my own Ciudad Perdida (Teyuna) hike coming up the first week of May.
And I am asking myself why I am doing this.
My "bucket list" includes doing as many world class hikes as possible. I've done the Inca Trail, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, Havasupai Canyon, Kilimanjaro, and the Abel Tasman coast. There is a shelf of about a dozen books with titles like Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die that call out to me each time I pass by them. The Milford Track, Torres del Paines, and Camino de Santiago are haunting me. A buddy and I have pledged that the day after we retire we will through-hike the Superior Hiking Trail.
I suspect a psychiatrist would quickly analyze that these adventures are simply my way of dealing with aging, with accepting my own mortality. Or more likely, that I am in some form of denial. Could be. My father died when he was only a couple years older than I am now and I do think about that more often, I suppose, than I should.
I also feel the aches and pains of being in my 60s. Muscles and joints take time to warm up in the morning. It takes a little longer, it seems, to catch my breath after walking up a few flights of stairs. The 3-4 mile daily walks feel like exercise. I see an old man's hollowed chest when I look in the mirror and suspect the bald spot (thankfully) on the back of my head is growing.
About this time next week, the first day of hiking in Columbia, I will asking myself what the hell I was thinking signing up. I will be asking myself if I will be able to keep up, be able to complete the trek. I will be asking if this is the hike where I have the heart attack, fall off the cliff, drown in the river, or be bitten by a snake. Why am I doing this when I could just as easily be sitting by a pool in a resort, lounging on the deck of a cruise ship, or staring out the window of a tour bus?
But then I ask myself, "If you wanted comfort, why would you even leave the recliner in your living room?" We leave our homes, we leave our cities, we leave our countries to engage with the new. We want to see new sights, smell new smells, taste new tastes. Yet too often we stay in resorts that shield us from the barrios. We eat at KFCs instead of the street vendor. We drink Heinekins instead of Tuskers. We keep the windows of the bus between us and those whose wealth may be in cattle or in their back muscles or who may have no wealth at all.
I have two kinds of bug spray, hiking socks, quick-dry t-shirts, and my hat packed. I am anxious, but excited as well. Someone once said that the smaller the likelihood of survival, the greater the adventure. Hoping to strike a good balance.