Hike to La Cumbre – Day 1

Thursday 16th July 2015

The night before, an American guy from Montana named Bryan and me decided to go on a 2-day hike to La Cumbre. Josh with who I was doing the night bar drew this map for us.


I finished the night bar quite late and packed my bag for 2 days between 1am and 1.30am and slept 3h30. I set the alarm clock for 5.10am. Here was the beautiful sunrise colours when I woke up.


Jack, Duncan, Alex and Martin had spent the entire night in the Big Hammock, just chatting all night!

big hammock

We started our walk by heading to Los Pinos. The 3 dogs Luna, Pantera and Bonsy followed us and actually sticked with us the entire 2 days. It was so funny to do this hike with our 3 dogs.

us and 3 dogs

From Los Pinos, we continued down the road with a beautiful view of the scenery around.


We saw a toucan on a branch of a dead tree. That was awesome as I had not seen one yet.


When passing some houses, we chatted with the locals while the dogs made friends with the local dogs.

meeting with locals

We got to a junction and took right to Latagua.

La Tagua

We stopped at a small shop, bought some snacks and chatted for half an hour with the owner, Elcida Ortiz. She was one of 12 children and had herself 12 children, and 37 grand-children, all of them living in the area, the furthest away being in Santa Marta!

Elcida Ortiz

The road

the road

The landscape around.


We continued the walk and ran into this man who told us about a project he was doing to open some archeological site to view for future hikers.While we chatted, he also gave us some corn he had in his hands.

corn man

We continued to walk and saw a spider tree.

spider tree

Then we arrived at the beginning of the little path to Finca La Cumbre.

track to La Cumbre

Here is the first gate we crossed after a bit of walking.


It’s funny because as soon as we crossed the gate, the weather started being quite misty.


We followed the path up and up, the dogs always waiting for us.


Another gate we crossed.


It was only 11.30am but the higher we were going, the more misty it was getting.


This was our lunch, local peanut butter with bread and an apple. Peanut butter for lunch, oh yeah, what else would you have for lunch on a hike when you go hiking with an American!!! Just kidding Bryan. ;-p


Beautiful misty landscape.


And another gate


And more and more mist.


I switched to Black&White as I found that landscape suited for that.


Bonsy, you all doggy about 10 year old who bravely followed and came with us, exhausted!


Met some locals


The man.

the man

Loved this landscape.


Bryan, our three dogs and the dog of the local couple who liked Pantera a lot.

Bryan and dogs

Beautiful spider. So many spiders there, thousands!


A huge rock on which we spent later the rest of the afternoon contemplating the magical clouds danse over the mountains in the foreground.


Here, it was, La Cumbre cabana. We got there at 1pm, after a 6-hour walk with few breaks.


The beautiful horse in the field near it.


Alright, here started the problems. There was no one in the house! It looked closed down. Here were the beds we could see through the window on which we could have slept.


However, the lock was pretty clear that no one was there.


This was the fireplace, where there was still some smoke, telling us the people living here had made a fire the night before or in the morning and probably left a few hours before we arrived.


The view down the valley was really stunning.


And up the valley too.


So what to do? We had not expected that. Joshua and Duncan had told us that once you got to La Cumbre cabana, you paid 50,000 COP and you had dinner, a bed and brekky by amazing and friendly owners. We had been warned it was going to be freezing at night, so we had brough warm clothes. But we had not taken with us purification tablets or filters, or that much food either, not for the dogs either! We had 500ml water each, a corn each from what the guy had given us, a carrot each, an apple for two and some granola. We decided to restart the fire and cook the corn now, and stay at the house for the night, even if that meant slipping on its icy floor. While we started searching for some wood to restart the fire, a guy arrived and asked us what we were doing here. He was quite doubtful about us and said we could not stay there especially with the dogs. He wanted us to walk up with him for an hour and then do motorbiking for a hour with him to a hostel called Eldorado. We said the dogs were very friendly and he had nothing to fear from them, and also that it was our responsibility to bring them back to Casa Elemento, which meant we could not take the motorbike with him. Plus our aim was to be at the top in the morning at sunrise to see Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar at sunrise and the view over the entire Sierra Nevada from these pics to the sea. Going with him was defeating the purpose of our hike. We explained him how much we cared about Pico Colon, that we knew that for the Kogis it was considered the centre of the earth and for that reason we had hiked to come see this mystical holy Pic from closer. He warmed up when we started chatting a bit more and I noticed he carried a camera and we started chatting about photography and he showed us awesome shots of birds he had taken. He also explained to us that he was part of ProAves which aimed at protecting the area and reclaiming the environment to protect it. He had bought with others of his association the land of La Cumbre and the owners had left this specific morning, giving the keys to him and his association. He said that he did not have the authorisation to open the doors for us of the house and let us sleep there. We said we understood and that it was ok for us to sleep on the floor of the house but that we were keen to not move and stay there for the night. Besides that, the fog kept coming, and not knowing this type of instable weather, we were not confident going anywhere. It was already 2.30pm and night would fall a few hours later. He finally accepted to let us sleep on the floor of the house, gave us 4 bananas from his bag and left, walking up the hill. We saw him disappear in the mist. Bryan went to cook the corn and I went to take a shower in the icy water outside of the house that the guy had showed us before it would get colder and darker. Then we went on that huge rock and spent the rest of the afternoon simply contemplating this ever changing dance of the clouds. There was something absolutely mysterious about that dance, some kind of spiritual atmosphere, something sacred we could feel in that area that is hard to explain. It was fascinating to be there in this silence, surroundings by almost nothing, no one, and be able to contemplate this incredible landscape. Unfortunately, while I packed at 1am the night before, I was too tired to dig out the bag containing my 6 other batteries for my camera. I had checked the spare one that looked full, but when I changed battery that evening, it was…empty! How stupid is that to bring with you 7 batteries when you travel to make sure you will not ever run out of battery, and then only bring 2 on a hike and indeed run out of batteries. I felt pretty damn stupid but anyway. Here was the last shot I took that afternoon of the sunset.


Photo of the icy floor on which we slept, that Bryan took. All photos below are Bryan´s ones.
Photos – Copyright Bryan Nickerson.

icy floor

Chess game we made with rocks and a piece of cardboard found there that we used later as an insulation layer. We played one game, but Bryan was definitely better than me, which made it easy and boring for him!!


Clouds dance.

clouds dance

We just spent the rest of the afternoon on the big rock watching the dance. Ever changing landscape, moment 1.

moment 1

Moment 2

moment 2

Sunset at 6.10pm.


Ready for the freezing night on an icy floor…Brrrr….