Climbing Pico Duarte
Better a tortoise than a hare?
Leaving the summit and returning to the shelter, we find the other hiking group has just arrived.
They became drenched long before reaching the shelter and many are exhausted. Although it's only six o'clock, several are already sacked out in their sleeping bags. They don't plan to seek the summit until morning, when the peak is often sunny and cloudless.
After they see the peak, they will go only part way back, spending 3 nights on the trail instead of just 2. Many of these hikers are close to my age and I envy them. They have the opportunity to stay afoot and hike at their own pace.
My younger companions make fun of the other group's slow progress. Then the marathon cyclist realizes he never noticed the two dead animals near the summit. He's amazed that he was so immersed in himself that he could overlook something so out of the ordinary.
I find that a little scary. Slow and mule driven I may have been, but at least I always knew and appreciated where I was.
The descent takes much longer than anticipated. We don't return until almost 2 in the afternoon. By this time I'm resigned to staying atop the mule most of the way. I should have looked for a more comfortable saddle.
Despite my mightily sore butt, it was worth the rub.
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