[The village is in the background of this picture!]
After a 3 hour hike from the bridge to the village of Patuy, they met up with the lay-pastor from that village, as well as several men and boys who were going to accompany them on their big trip!
[Loading up the mules!]
The plan was to hike up Ximiagua, one of the tallest mountains in Guatemala! After a brief rest in Patuy, they began their ascent. Thankfully, once in Patuy, they were able to load up some mules with the backpacks. The packs were especially heavy because of the need to carry food and water, along with sleeping bags and everything else!
[Poor Nate didn't have a lot of energy after several upset stomach sessions! But it did mean he got to ride a lot of the way up!]
They hiked for four hours straight up the mountain. (Emphasis on the up...and up...and up!) But there was lots of encouragement for the trip...incredible views, beautiful pine forests, and especially the abundant blackberries! And the higher they got, the nicer the weather became. In fact, it was downright cold at the top!
[Here's Nate with some blackberry stains around his mouth!]
One of the worries was about having enough liquid along for the trip. They were assured that there was an ample water supply near the top of the mountain -- which was true -- in part! The locals filled their water bottles in the horses watering hole. Wilf and Nate just couldn't bring themselves to do that...especially with the quantity of manure that filled the watering hole!
They settled down for the night, only to be awakened at midnight by the beginning of the rainy season! That meant packing up, and hiking till almost 4 AM, getting lost in the fog and rain...and eventually making it back to the village of Patuy where the hard wooden church benches seemed like Hilton's finest beds! (They were also very thankful to have an outhouse again for the rumbly tummies!)