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Around the mountain

Sunday, September 24th 2000

The next morning, we set out to explore the mountain. Rincón de la Vieja is at the centre of a region of great geothermal activity, and the evidence for subterranean heat is everywhere. A well-trodden trail winds past many geothermal features, and we set out along it. Before long we were temporarily out of the forest, and all around we could see steam rising from the ground.

Over the next three hours or so, we passed hot pools of water, simmering and glooping pools of mud, warm streams, and a large steaming hole in the ground which was rumbling and groaning ominously. We also saw a fearsomely boiling pool of mud known as Volcancito. It was quite a sight, and we couldn't help but wonder just how far below us the magma here was.

We headed back to our tents and had another delicious wilderness meal, before breaking camp and heading off. We had arranged to be picked up at the park's other ranger station, 8km away, and we had four hours to do it in. We wanted to stop at some hot springs on the way, so we thought we'd leave plenty of time.

It was pretty hard going, though, with the first four kilometres being pretty steeply uphill. Moh at one point complained that his legs weren't working, and promptly fell over. However, we were making good time. With about an hour and a half left before our driver was to pick us up, we arrived at the trail which led to the springs. A quick kilometre and we were there, and it was fantastic. Hot water emerges from beneath some rocks, and flows into a cool stream, and where they mix is pure heaven. I sat with my feet in the cool water and the rest of me in the hot, and relaxed.

But all too soon we had to be on our way, and we set off renewed for the final 3km. We set a blistering pace, and arrived at the ranger station at the same time as our lift, although Moh was looking somewhat the worse for wear. 'Bue...nos...di...as', he said to our driver, wheezing terribly. 'You look terrible' replied our driver. We had a great run back to Liberia in the fading light of day.

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