In the morning we arise before the sun and I pull on my wet, dirt-stained shorts for the final time. As this was our last day I could have worn my sleep shorts for the final day of the hike, but wet clothes weigh your pack down and besides, I’d grown attached to those never-dy, mud-encrusted shorts of grey. Hiking in anything else on the last day would feel oddly disloyal.
Today’s hike is almost 11 miles – the longest hike on our journey so far. I eat breakfast and watch the sunrise and one thought runs through my mind – kill it, Lauren.
A Hike Through the Costa Rican Rainforest: Day Ten and a Conclusion
We hike the first six kilometers from Rancho Tinamu to the town of San Isidro de Dota with Santiago, the owner of the eco lodge. He walks this road every day twice a day and we walk alongside him, following his footsteps if only for a day.
We round a bend and the ocean lies before us. Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s top tourist destinations, is just a day and a half walk from here.
I trail the pack and for several hours walk in silence, getting lost in non-trail related thoughts that mainly center around California and my upcoming trip to Los Angeles. My body is a machine, and I don’t think about the hills as I trek up and down.
The hills are hard, but they help you enjoy the flat parts, I realize.
None of us, besides the instructors, have watches, and I have no idea what time it is when I’m walking along or how much further there is to go, but the trail has taught me that, sometimes, it better to just not know how much further you have to go. It’s better to get lost in the beauty of the moment.
We stop for lunch and a boy on a motorbike pulls up with rice, beans, chicken and yucca wrapped in banana leaves.
The last 30 minutes of the trail are sheer downhill. But the time passed so quickly that, before I knew it our instructor turned back to me and pointed to the van below, saying “this is it. It’s over.”
I take the last few steps on the trail in line with a few other group members. It’s not that it’s a race, I just didn’t want to finish last.
We reach the van and the group flings their backpacks down, removing their hiking boots, pulling out water and snacks.
But I move slower, looking back at the trail and taking a moment to say goodbye and thank it for all the lessons it taught me.
On my trek I learned how to hike with a backpack. How to tighten the straps of a pack and to clip on water so that it says less. I learned that yoga pants and a non quick-dry tank top are terrible clothes for hiking, the names of dozens of plants and animals in Costa Rica, that you can wear wet hiking shoes and socks for ten days straight and not get blisters…
I learned a million little things on my ten-day hike with Costa Rica and they all added up to this – I am much stronger and capable than I ever thought I was.
The van ride to base lasts four hours, and though we all are weary, the adrenaline at having finished is still pulsing through our veins making it impossible to sleep.
We pass the beach and then mountains, little huts in fields of palm trees and I get the feeling that Costa Rica’s beauty is endless and unmeasurable.
Back at base a shower was waiting along with the internet, clean clothes and all the comforts had been dreaming of, but I find my countdown is not quite over.
In two more days I will see my mom in Los Angeles. Being in her presence will refresh me more than the river bath I took at Taiper creek, fill me more than our first heaping plate at Magda’s filled with rice, beans and tortillas, and energize me more than setting foot on base after these ten long days on the trail.
*Note: This post is the final in my series recounting my experiences during a ten-day hike with Outward Bound Costa Rica, leading through varied landscapes and small pueblos in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. If you are interested in taking a similar journey, Outward Bound Costa Rica is now accepting applications for semester and summer program participants here. You can find the remainder of my posts on the hike here.