On a slightly more DIY trip compared to our Guatemala hikes, we headed to Malinche near Puebla for a Sunday hike. Malinche is an inactive volcano – it last erupted 3,100 years ago. I’d read a variety of estimated hike times online, varying from 3-6 hours. We were going into this quite blind….
As we followed the postcode to the Centros Vacacionales y de Convenciones IMSS (a small resort known to be the start point, where you can park) and the volcano looked down on us, it became apparent that this was going to be quite a hike… Fortunately we had a bag full of cheese and ham sandwiches and a bunch of chocolate and peanut butter protein bars, so what could go wrong?
Setting off just before 10am, the beginning of the trail was relatively easy, with a road weaving and crossing occasionally. It was fairly busy with other Sunday walkers out and about. After about 3km, we took a right turn with a sign directing us to the summit. From here the trail got steeper.
With the trail so steep and the fog often covering the higher sections of the climb, we were fooled into thinking the summit was much… much closer than it was. It was only when we asked some locals how far was left that we realised there was still quite a way to go!
By about 12.30, 2 and half hours after starting, we had broken the tree-line and into a huge open area with stunning views of Puebla below. Channels of volcanic rock led the way up to the summit.
The fog would move with the breeze and occasionally lift, revealing the landscape around. Our pace had slowed quite severely. James had been suffering all morning with stomach cramps but had too much rugby-boy-grit/stubbornness to admit that he was struggling so much, until it really was so much of a struggle that he had to stop. Turns out it was quite a nasty stomach bug, and he was soon to rename the volcano ‘vomcano’. He told us to go on – I didn’t think the summit was too far.
My uncle Toby and I continued on up the climb, and the trail got much rockier, icier and steeper. It was a fun scramble though, with plenty of foot holds and hand holds to help yourself climb up.
However, the weather started to turn; we could hear thunder in the distance and the fog continued to drop, but now it wasn’t lifting at all. I still didn’t think the summit was far, but really, I had no clue as the visibility was now very poor. The climb looked never-ending into the fog. We were also a man down, with James down below, hopefully still in one piece. But it was time to call it a day.
Although we didn’t make it to the summit, we still saw some incredible scenery and views from above the tree-line. The beautiful alpine surroundings were really not what you’d immediately associate with the landscape of Mexico. And it turns out the summit was still a way on – I had about 300 vertical metres still to go I later learnt when I uploaded my GPS, and so about another hour scramble/hike.
We’ll just have to come back… without the impending stomach bug and with an actual clue about the distance to the top!