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Team Diabetes 2012 – Conquer the Volcano (Waterfalls)

May 5, 2012

Twenty-nine people from across Canada have gathered together in Costa Rica for Team Diabetes Canada. Together we have raised $228,000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association and logged hundreds of hours of training (some of us anyways) for a hike to the summit of the Rincon de la Vieja volcano. Unfortunately, the volcano has recently showed signs of activity and as such the trail to the summit has been closed by the park authorities. The team is still in good spirits. We are told that we will hike in the park on several other trails – mainly to 1 or 2 waterfalls – and that these trails may be even more challenging that the hike to the summit. We are also told that it is hotter and more humid than in years past – 3L of water might not do it – take more.

We are into 3 teams; Team Toucan, Team Iguanas and Team Howlers. I am put in the perfect group for me. I like to push myself – I want a challenging hike – I want to reach my goal. On the other hand I am slow – I like to take in the scenery – I like to high five children during races. Luckily for me I am placed in the “middle group.” We are slow and steady – and proud of it. Someone is even carrying a bigger camera than I am. I’m thrilled!

Teams Iguanas and Howlers [Via The Walking Connection]

Our first hiking goal is to reach the “Catarata Escondida,” or hidden waterfall. It is located up the volcano – way up. I think every rise will be the last until I can see over the peak and another ascent awaits me. By the time we reach the top I am all red in the face. I’m essentially cold-blooded – The heat and humidity have gotten to me! When we finally reach our destination I was just about ready to swim in a mud puddle if it was cold enough. I’m happy to see that the hidden waterfall isn’t in fact a mud puddle but a small pool at the top of a small waterfall – there will be no diving into this one! I can’t jump in fast enough – I am so hot that I consider stripping off my clothes then and there just to get into the water faster. Thinking slightly more rationally I semi-discretely change into a bikini top and jump with with my thong on. Compromise.

I feel re-energized from cooling off and our group is reluctantly on our way again. With a lowered body temperature I am at the front of the group for the first time all day.  We hike inclines and declines to reach our second destination, La Cangreja waterfall, and are not disappointed. The trail culminates in a forest lagoon which is fed by a tall waterfall. Despite my growing hunger I postpone lunch and jump right in (after slipping on multiple rocks), swim over to the waterfall, and get a free shoulder massage from the falling water.

Our waterfall lingering has prevented our group from hiking a third trail which I’m disappointed about at first but ends up to be in my favour. One the way back to the trail head, at the junction of the waterfall trails, I begin to feel some pain one the side of my left knee. Flat surfaces are fine but inclines and declines become increasingly difficult. Luckily I am distracted by several white-faced monkey sightings which is a fantastic way to end the day.

Even though we didn’t hike to the summit there was still a feeling of accomplishment in the air as our team rode back to the resort and soothed tired muscles in the hot springs and steam bath. We truly did conquer the volcano.

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