Thursday, March 19, 2009

Parque Nacional Volcan Poas

Poas Volcano National Park is about 40k north of San Jose. It is the most visited national park in Costa Rica. Even though its last blowout was back in 1953, Poas is still an considered an active volcano. It was that year that an enormous crater formed. It's 1.3k across and 300 meters deep. There are two other craters, one is a lake. The fact that you can peer into an active volcano, without having to actually hike miles to get there must be attractive to the almost 300,000 people who visit annually.
I had been wanting to visit Poas all year. Im really facinated by volcanos, and its an easy day trip from San Jose. (Poas was actually the epicenter of the huge earthquake here on January 8th. I missed it by the skin of my teeth. I was in Atlanta and arrived that night, 6 hours afterwards)
My boss Steph asked if Ernesto would mind entertaining her sister and friend for a day while she was at work. (they are here visiting for spring break) When they decided to go visit Poas, I had to invite myself.

We used Steph's car and left as early as we could. (cough cough) There is a very strong smell of sulfur as soon as you enter the park. From the visitors center there is a short paved trail to the main crater. It was a bad sign that we could barely see the trail in front of us.
You really need to arrive early before the clouds come in at about 10am. Unfortunately, we arrived at 10:10am. So what was supposed to be a view like this
[pic from wikipedia] turned out to be a view like this: I took this picture. Really, all by myself.
ok, ok, we thought, even if we can't see down the crater, we still can hike the little trail in the dwarf cloud forest and enjoy the foliage right? We were surrounded by flowers, lichen, bromeliads, and moss covering curious shaped and twisted trees.
I finally broke out my new Canon XSi camera for a trip. I definitely need some classes, but Ill share my amtuer pics anyway. I love this one, but you can see that the focus is on the tree to the left, not Neto.
The 30 minute roundtrip trail called Sendero Botas leads to an extinct crater that has filled with cold water and is called Laguna Botas. The Volcano base is 8200 feet above sea level, and even though this was a wuss trail, I could feel that after one minute my breathing was strained. Come on, it's over 8000 feet! It was cold up there too, but "cold" for me now is low 60s.
At the top... Again Ugh!, nothing but clouds. But alas, after a few minutes the wind blew the clouds out of the way so we saw...something.
Ernesto tried to see what was over there in the clearing.
A minute later, we could see the marvilous lake. It made it all worthwhile. Can you believe this was a volcano?
We smiled for the obligatory pic. It a framer!

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