Pico Duarte; 3098m (10,164 ft)

by Lauren on June 7, 2010

It was five o’clock in the morning when my guide drove me, by motorcycle, to the trailhead of Pico Duarte. At first I was anxious to ride with a perfect stranger through the rural and winding back roads of the Dominican Republic. Judging by his confused look when I requested a helmet, I understood that risk-taking was a daily undertaking. But during our morning ride in the brisk air, while gazing skyward at the thousands of stars in the Caribbean sky, my anxiety quickly disappeared.

Day one was an eight-hour trek up vine-covered paths and through terrain previously destroyed by forest fire. At our rest site for the evening, my guide and muleteer prepared a delicious and hearty meal of yucca and chicken. The next morning we awoke at five o’clock, making our way by flashlight to the summit. Freezing drizzle clouded the vistas as we climbed upwards, but cleared just enough for fantastic views atop Pico Duarte.

With another eight hours still ahead of us, I was tempted to follow my guide’s suggestion to hop on one of the mules. But if I ascended the mountain, I could surely descend it on my own two feet. Here’s a first-hand glimpse of the trek.

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