After all of the sitting in the last weeks I could feel the need to get outside again and to exercise a bit. I also needed some time for myself and what else could be better than a high mountain for that. After checking the weather forecast for the weekend I found a little rain hole on Friday and Saturday and therefore decided to skip classes on Friday and head off to the mountains. My destination: Cerro Chirripó. With 3.820m / 12,533ft the highest mountain in Costa Rica with the chance to see the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean from the top at the same time.

Unfortunately it was all a bit complicated to obtain a permit for the park which is restricted to about 50 people per day so I one of the staff members in the school had to help me do all the bookings. When ran out of school after class on Thursday at 2pm I had a few print outs with names, reservation codes, instructions in Spanish which I unfortunately did not fully understand. When it comes to directions (remember, no street names in Costa Rica) and changing buses etc. also the details can be important. Anyways what I knew was that my last bus with which I would make it to my final destination San Gerado left at 3.30pm in San Jose and my notes said that a lady named Laura would pick me up at the bus station. Well, I thought: She’ll be right, brew! 😂

If you thought Economy was bad – try busses in Costa Rica 😂

After some running, endless hours in a bus which is not build for people with 1,90m in height, waiting and more bus rides I finally arrived in San Gerado at around 9 o’clock. And – no surprise a lady Laura was waiting for me to pick me up and give me a lift to my hostel. In case you ever want to climb Cerro Chirripó, her hostel “Cabaña Mis Ojos” is very unique in style and amazing!

A good night of sleep and a bit of paper work with the park administration in the morning and I was good to go. Normally people are advised to start at around 5.30 to 6.00am in the morning with the hike up to to Refugio on 3.400m. The trailhead is situated at around 1.400m so there are serious 2.000m of altitude to overcome in about 14km which results in an average of 6-9h of hiking. It is not really recommended to walk at night since you are passing through the thick rainforest for the first part which means spiders, snakes, jaguars, cougars and more. But I figured 14km couldn’t be so bad to not make it with a start at 9 o’clock.

So off I went. Immediately after walking the first couple kilometres I could sense this feeling of happiness coming back. The first 20 minutes where sunny and hot before I entered the rainforest and the clouds.



The trail was good and the way I like it – natural, muddy and with a constant incline. The bird life in Costa Rica is amazing. I read somewhere that it hosts around 900 different species of birds. I stopped quite a few times to try to capture them.


And then I entered the magic cloud forest. For about two hours I didn’t get out of the clouds anymore. It was amazingly beautiful and mystical at the same time. Even though I really enjoy learning Spanish and Costa Rica – I felt like a dog that had been unleashed after a long time on a chain. There it was again that feeling of pure happiness. The slope was steady and with the altitude I gained I could feel it in my breath and legs.



Besides the photo breaks I of course – no surprise – more or less ran up the hill. For one reason because I was not sure how long it would take me and I didn’t want to run into the darkness, for another reason because I wanted enough time to rest in the Refugio before the night hike to the top but I guess also because I just needed to feel my body at its physical limit again. Once I passed around 2.800m I could slowly feel the effect of the altitude – not very strongly but noticeable.

It was a beautiful play of the clouds and the rainforest and I truly enjoyed the physical demand of the hike. The only breaks I took where photo breaks to capture some of the astonishing sceneries.


One of my favourite shots – defying the thick coulds and the wind. A tree.


And then at around 3.200m the trail levelled off for the first time. Exactly when I reached the tree line. Have you ever been in mountains with a tree line of 3.200m? The European Alps usually have one around 1.800m and in New Zealand it even went down to 950m on the South Island. The vegetation changed completely to small bushes and many flowers. I spotted parrots, kolibris and many other birds.



The last bit was another 200m incline to the Refugio. I again tried to push it and had to take a couple of breaks. For the first time in a long time I actually had to stop on an uphill slope because I was out of breath. It was an amazing feeling and I couldn’t stop smiling. The mountain kicked my ass. I loved it. #ilovemountains Tough to explain but it gives me a feeling of being alive and it also grounds me.

I arrived at the Refugio and had a little break for lunch.

Hikers Heaven. Only thing missing: Hokey Pokey…

And then I explored the surroundings of the Refugio a bit. At 3.400m you are more than advised not to follow your bodies call and go for a nap but to walk around and massively hydrate to prevent symptoms of AMS (acute mountain sickness) caused by the altitudes reduced amount of oxygen. So I had a look at a famous rock formation called the Cerro Crestones and the evening clouds pushing in.


Cerro Crestones

After dinner it was early bed time. I wanted to get up at 3am to arrive before sunrise on the top. It had cooled down noticeably during the night – the leaves were covered in ice and the ground was frozen. It was only another 400m in altitude and a bit more than 5km. Sunrise started at 5am so I had decided to leave at 3.30am to give me 1.5h – it resulted in a proper hiking speed. I have to admit I could definitely feel the altitude and also my legs from the day before. After the first half was completely flat the second half was steeper ending in a little scramble to the very top. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath, my legs tightened up and there it was again – this feeling of pure happiness. I reached the top at 4.45am, right in time for the sunrise. An amazing spectacle.





Ecstasy or the state of pure happiness
It is difficult to put into words what happens on hikes like this to me. But especially in the phases of physical limits as during this hike I very often move into a state of mind which is probably best described with a form of trance. I am fully in the here and yet and very often completely free of thoughts which is an amazing liberalisation. I guess it is a combination of the physical effort and the concentration necessary for each and every step (especially with trail runners) which does not leave a lot of room for more. I think I do shift from being “gone” completely to being completely and only perceptive for my surroundings. This is the only way how I can explain why I recognise many of the things which end up in some of the photos. I have talked about that a lot in amazingly inspiring conversations the last weeks with my friend Bri. It has been an amazing and enriching insight. She comes from what I call the “hocus-pocus world” (@Betty & Bri: forgive me… 😊) which consists of all these things as yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, chanting, crystals and much more which I can’t even spell – but for sure nothing which has been part of my life so far. But one thing I understood was that many of these “things”, especially meditation, are supposed to reach this state of clarity and presence in the here and yet without distraction. A lot of the rest is still complete “hocus-pocus” to me but I have to admit that once I enter this amazing state I can definitely sense an amazing flow of energy, clarity and presence. No matter what it is – I guess I still reside in the real world and being pragmatic – it is what gives me this feeling of unconditional happiness what somehow always draws me back into the mountains. It is tough to put in words but once you have experienced it once you want to have it more and more. I guess it is addictive. I slowly develop an understanding for all the people in the hocus-pocus world if that’s what they get out of their “things”…
@Betty: Would you have thought…? 😘
@NGT: No worries, I won’t convert (fully)! 😘

I think this picture from the top of Cerro Chirrió explains what I tried to describe – but way better than words can do.

The state of pure happiness.

I spent about an hour on the top to suck it all in. The sun rose slowly covering everything in a beautiful light. We had glimpses of the Pacific and the Caribic Ocean even though it was mostly covered beneath the clouds. Also an amazing shot of the Volcano Turrialba peaking out of the clouds with its constant fumarolic activity.



After a short look back on the peak during the decent I continued on my way back out. I stopped again for numerous photos and enjoyed the scenery with a few less clouds than on the way up which gave the trail a completely different look. I could feel my legs but what can I say – I was still completely high… 😊🤘




Thank you Cerro Chirripó for bringing this feeling back to me! More clarity what makes happy and the finding – more hiking and mountains in the next month. #ilovemountains.