Tuesday we hiked the road to Omoa. There are two villages on this island and they’re three miles apart as the crow flies or by water but ten miles via the only road, a crazy zigzag of switchbacks and steep rises that somehow carves through and over the jagged volcanic peaks. We knew we wouldn’t make it to Omoa but we had to pursue the required cruisers’ mission of climbing the highest hill and taking a photo of our boat.
We set off in the morning and walked the steep road past the turn-off for the waterfall, then kept following the road further up into the mountains. It was unrelentingly steep, so steep that I checked the grade with an app on my phone. Fifteen percent. Some of the switchbacks were up to 18% grade.
We could only walk a few hundred feet before resting whenever we found a shady spot. We walked for about two hours taking photos of the majestic scenery as we went. As beautiful as it was, we couldn’t see down into the anchorage yet. Our map hinted at where we might find an overlook into the harbor and it was still quite a way ahead.
My legs gave out and I parked myself in the shade while Jack and Tim kept going. Jack is never one to stop before the summit. I ate a granola bar and that revived me enough to make small forays upward, resting whenever I found shade or a place to sit. Eventually the road turned toward the harbor and I could see nearly straight down to some of the boats at anchor. Our boat is anchored nearer the shore so it wasn’t visible from this standpoint nor was Tim’s so I knew the men wouldn’t stop until they got the shot. I was content to stay where I was and sat under a tree to appreciate the view and wait.
I waited for an hour. I was just considering leaving a signal cairn and starting down when I looked ahead and saw Jack and Tim about 50 yards above me, collapsed under a tree. I waved and they made their way down to my shady spot. They had not reached the summit but did find a good view of the harbor with all the boats. They were exhausted. We rested for a while longer then started down. Walking down a 15% grade for an hour is nearly as painful as walking up and we rested just as frequently. It was a relief to our knees and feet when we finally got to relatively level ground again.
We’ve been to some beautiful places before but this island, with its knife-edge volcanic peaks, its steep, green, undulating valleys, its jasmine and gardenia scented breeze, this magical island shoots right to our top five list with a bullet.