The air has been heavy with smoke but the sounds remain the same: cicadas, blue jays, the crunching of pine needles under my feet, the occasional light blow of wind through my ears and across my face. There is nothing else.
Every day for the past three months I’ve exploited the trails of our beautiful mountain.
The main road can go left or right. Left goes toward the lemon orchard, the long and vertical horse trail to Las Botijas, to one of my favorite meditation spots, and of course toward Zambrano (ten miles to the nearest city.) Right goes to the waterfall lookout, to Los Moros (tiny village) to Matacañas (an even tinier village) or to another favorite valley view. This doesn’t include the countless combinations of big and small paths on the other side of the river, which requires hip-hopping across the water and scrambling up a cactus-ed hill, every time.
For those readers that love hiking, this is a special place. There’s no backcountry permits, though we are certainly back country. There is a stunning, enormous waterfall with no entrance fee. There are horses and cows grazing unattended at any turn and the only other people you will see are the inhabitants of the teeny towns scattered miles between miles in the peaks and valleys.
An hour in any direction stops in a place unique to the road not taken. Some locations are fern-covered and shady. Some are stark and stoney. Some have gorgeous sights of mountain tops and some are secluded and silent. Sometimes there are snakes, sometimes there are men leading oxen and wagons along the road, sometimes there are vibrantly colored birds, but always there is yourself: alone, invigorated, walking not in a park but simply in a mountain, in a forgotten place on this earth that cannot be Google Mapped and cannot be replicated.
Some days I turn around without thinking, my feet knowing exactly which rock to step on and which slippery pine needles to avoid. Some days I throw out my arms and thank the sun for shining light on this place. Some days I fall in the river and get my feet wet, laughing bitterly. Some days I am able to quiet my mind and simple see green and burnt orange all around. I always hear my feet and my heart, and I am proud to say, I didn’t take this for granted.
|Reflecting on the trail. Can you even see the trail?|
Today was my final hike in Honduras and it wasn’t novel. I knew exactly where I was going: up the hill, past the horses, around the bend with the mossy rocks, past the open field and up to the gate of Matacañas. There’s a typical rural Honduran house – aluminum roof, concrete pila, chickens clucking and laundry flapping, surrounded by a sloping pasture, surrounded yet again from rolling hills of pine. I love this sight. I drank it in. I said goodbye.
With a final flip of my ponytail, I paddled down the road, ready to say goodbye to my home here, ready to give it back to nature, ready to take away all the things I’ve learned in the silence.
I take with me only me, and these forgotten Honduran mountains will sit in a small corner of my heart.