Four years ago, a lone Indian woman quit her job, sold all of her possessions, and set out to travel the world. It’s not such an uncommon story in my world, but one that I find continually fascinating. This particular person, The Shooting Star, wrote about an adventure she had while in Mexico City, hiking Nevado de Toluca.

The name of this extinct volcano mountain range stuck with me, and I hoped to make a similar trek during my time in Mexico City. Unable to find a tour operator online within my budget that could take me up there was tough though, so I just prayed that once I was at my hotel that the concierge would be able to help me out.

I didn’t plan or prepare physically for this hike, it was more of an internally gnaw in my soul that I needed to hike this mountain. The hotel concierge found me a driver, and for me, that was all that I needed.

So, at 430 am, I am picked up and our journey commenced. A couple hours later, just as the sunrise breaks, we arrive at the base camp. A few vaqueros are huddled around a small fire trying to stave off the morning cold. I have only a beanie, a couple of layered shirts and a hoodie. My driver offers me some gloves and hiking poles, then takes me up to meet the Mexican cowboys and see which of them may be willing to drive me further on up the mountain so I can start my hike.

A nice young man volunteers. He scraps the frost off his trucks windshield with a broken credit card. We all laugh (me nervously) but soon we can see out the window, the trucks starts up in the cold, and we rumble on up the road, my driver soon out of sight.

and so it begins….
I am the only hiker here. The truck drops me off, then turns around and heads back down the mountain. The clouds are below me, covering Mexico in a white blanket. The sun is shining brightly, which helps offset the cold. A dog is the only other breathing creature up here, and he follows me as I start along the trail. I call him “perro”.
My breathing is labored, and my water is quickly disappearing. I pray for safety and continue onward. The still beauty of this place has me weak in the knees. I climb to the summit and get my first glimpse of the crater left by the volcano.
It is not lost on me that it is Semana Santa, or Holy Week. In fact I am hiking on the day that Christ carried the cross upon his back before being crucified. I can not help but feel a kinship to this burden as I push through the pain of my elevation and hunger in Nevado de Toluca. The spiritual nature of this day alleviates any hunger or thirst I previously had. All that matters is completing this journey.

“Perro!” I yell out into the silence. At times I’m not sure if the dog is real or just a figment of my imagination. Nevertheless, my companion appears from behind a cluster of rocks and is by my side as we make our way. We slowly continue the journey, resting frequently as I share the last of my water with my furry friend.
For hours it is only perro, myself and God. As we start the final climb out of the crater and back to the starting point, I see groups of people that are starting their own spiritual journey.
Perro leaves me to be with a new group that is just starting their hike. I cry out for him to come back, but he pays no attention. Tears fill my eyes, but I realize that he served his purpose with me, and now that I have safely returned, his job is to be with another.

Like an angel.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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