Cerro de Punta Climb
It's a trail still in search of climbers.
I write down the directions to the summit of Cerro de Punta provided at the parador. I am to follow the road to the end, where it will split into 4 dirt paths. I should take the left one.
Only 20 yards beyond the parador the road begins to buckle and crumble, damage from a recent storm. I coax and bottom scrape my rental car to the end of this almost impossible road where I notice 3 pathways instead of 4.
Three, 4--what does it matter as long as I take the left one?
After I hike a considerable way past banana trees and coffee plants and into a thick palm forest, I begin to have the uneasy feeling this is not the correct path.
As a hiking trail, it just doesn't feel right, whatever ‘right' might be. I've learned that if I don't trust my instincts I usually regret it mightily, so I trudge back to the car and return to the parador.
After much discussion it's agreed I indeed was on the wrong path. It's not the left one, after all.
So which is the correct one?
I'm running out of time and patience. For 2 days now I've tried to locate the trailhead.
I bribe a teenager to drive me to the correct route, which turns out to be the second from the left. Obviously, a trail marker would have solved my problem at the outset, but who needs a sign when everyone takes the road?
Thanks to my false start and shuttling back and forth to the parador, it's now late morning and the walk is supposed to take between 2 and 3 hours each way. This is the last day I have to make the hike, and there's just enough time to do it before dark.
In a repeat of the previous day's weather pattern, thick clouds roll across Cerro de Punta and other nearby peaks. Only yesterday it didn't rain.
Today, loud claps of thunder punctuate the downpour that moves down the mountain toward me. I look at the swirling shroud of fog and rain that masks Cerro de Punta.
No matter. I'll be standing at the summit before much longer. I have to.