Day 4 in Mexico (01/12) – This was a day for an acclimatization hike with no summit goal. We headed up to Volcán Iztaccíhuatl or Izta but the park gate hadn’t opened so we had to hang out for a bit. The view of Popo was great. Popo is active and no hiking is allowed, on this day we saw it “burp” a few times (some plumes of smoke). Eventually we made it to the trailhead at 13,060’.
I felt pretty good as we headed up and then up, and then even more up. Eventually I asked Al where the lower peak was and found we were well beyond it. I was ready to turn as we were 2:15 into the hike and at 15,420’. Plenty high enough for me and there were a couple of rocky parts ahead that I did not want to do. Al wanted to go higher so we set a turn-around time for him and parted ways. I got back down in 1:20 despite stopping three times to chat with people coming up the trail (everyone seemed very friendly). I was down in 3:36 for the 4.5 miles with 2,400’ of climb/descent.
Since I had time before Al arrived I decided to do my daily 4 mile run from there, despite it being 13,000’. I figured I’d take it easy. It wasn’t bad at all on flat and downhill, but any little uphill bump had me sucking wind. I ran on a great dirt trail that was reasonably flat and even added in a little bushwhack to a small peak (13,030’) that had great views of the valley. Never have 12 minute miles felt so tough! Al showed up soon after, he’d gone as high as the glacier (16,800’) before heading down.
The long drive to Puebla was really rough. The road was nasty and we started seeing “ghost humps”. All of the roads have big speed bumps or humps that usually appear out of nowhere. We coined the phrase “ghost hump” for those times you think you see a bump but it was a shadow or something. Al wasn’t feeling well from either the altitude or something he ate so we crashed at the Hotel Kapu which had a nice late check-out time.
Day 5 in Mexico (01/13) – I woke up with a headache and the sound of rain coming down in buckets. Al was also still sick so we hung out until 10am then hit the road. Our goal was the 31st highest peak in Mexico. It rained the entire way and as we drove up the access road and gained altitude it soon turned to snow.
There was a few inches of snow on the ground where we parked (12,300’) and I was nervous about getting the car down after we hiked. We went a mile (12,950’) and Al decided he really had no energy. I was glad to hear that, I was very worried about the car going down the snowy road. Our 2 mile hike took us 43 minutes and we creeped down the road until we got below the snow/rain line.
We drove to Tlachichua and got lodging and guide for Orizaba at Servimont. We got a pretty good deal, the only thing we didn’t get were the meals which were very expensive ($25). A night’s lodging was only $10, and that included hot showers and a big room for arranging gear. There was only one other guy staying so we pretty much had run of the place. Al went to sleep and I headed out for my 4 mile run (at 8,600’).
Day 6 in Mexico (01/14) – I woke up with a cough and felt lousy. It rained all day, so we used the day to organize our gear and meet our guide. In the afternoon I did my 4 mile run despite feeling like crap. I was cold all night but it was quite in the hostel as it was just me, Al, and two other guys.