Cerro de Los Amigos @ dawn, Saturday, 09-September-2017


So I had a good view of dawn from the local high point, by far the best view weatherwise in my four attempts. The unpaved access road up was not too slick or muddy, and the hike down on trails to the north involved less bushwhacking than my previous attempt on Easter. All in all, a very nice morning. Got some pictures. My host family is in Ecuador for September to get Surya established there, so I am doing my own cooking- thus the shot of breakfast, proof I am adapting to feeding myself with the local cuisine.  Got to the trailhead at the Belmar Hotel above the gasolinera at 3:15 AM, summit at 4:26 AM, and the first visible hints of dawn at 4:40 AM. Plenty of moonlight, so I was able to hike without using my headlamp. Stars and scattered high clouds on the hike, no mists or rain.  Strong moon shadows. Very nice. The sun was plainly above the horizon by 5:30AM.  Had a nice hike down, managed to connect a couple of trails that I knew were related, but there still is one section of very steep bushwhacking that needs further exploration.

Our highest local peak, known as “Cerro Amigos”, or “Cerro de los Amigos”, or even Cerro Tres Amigos, is the location of Los Torres, (the antenna towers) and was my first hike in Monteverde.  It is often hiked and described (trip advisorChandler BatesKatie Quirk, en español, “the Atlantic plains are visible“, with a view of the Arenal volcano).   And it is free (1)!   Towards the summit on the access road, you might come across burrows for bees.  I have never heard of a sting. The access road is from the Belmar Hotel. There are unobstructed views to the west for sunset or the east for sunrise, and the towers on top….  but not a good 360 degree location… “After an hour or so of tough climbing, you arrive at the top to discover a weird area with antennas and other not too pretty things“.

I have developed an interest in seeing dawn from Cerro de Los Amigos.  For me, dawns are fun, different, rare.  The opportunities are normally scarcer, so more precious, and at the end you have the day in front of you, instead of its ending (even if I need a nap!).  My first trip for dawn on Cerros de Los Amigos was Easter 2017, perhaps the second or third time I hiked up it.  The Monteverde Friends Meeting traditionally does an Easter sunrise service on the soccer field behind the Meeting room.  But it seemed to me that looking onto the forest was not the best vantage point for sunrise, why not hike up Cerro de Los Amigos?  And a predawn hike provides anticipation above that of sitting on a soccer field.

That got me into thinking about doing the hike from time to time as a special event.  Thus, this email to see if anyone cared to join me… but, no takers.  Not too surprising, most people here have kids and/or jobs or just are not going to start hiking at about 3 AM on a local peak with the chance of a nice dawn, when we often have amazing sunsets towards the Pacific, and the scenery towards Arenal is the same all day long.

Care to climb Cerro de Los Amigos for dawn on Saturday?
To: blah, blah, blah
From: Mike West <mwjwest@gmail.com>
On Saturday, if conditions look favorable, I plan to walk up Cerro de
Los Amigos to see dawn.  The moon will be nearly full (89%, sets at
8:18 AM).  And it will be nearly El Día de Los Niños, fitting in with
being up there around holidays with a theme for contemplation….
Easter and Costa Rican Mother’s Day so far…Anyone interested, not just copied, is invited. Sue, Jess and Matt
joined me on Easter, otherwise it is a solo pursuit.  Spread the word,
it never seems to get crowded…  Let me know if you want to get a
final “go/no go” by WhatsApp.  I plan to be at Belmar about 3 AM, but
at Easter people walked at their own pace and schedule and we met at
the top near Carlos’ house with the open view to the east; I tend to
sightsee and leave early.  The light seems to start coming up
noticeably by 5 AM.https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/costa-rica/limon

Looks like, so far, winds might not be too bad.


Cloud cover looks favorable


This will be my fourth try to see something inspiring, so far not much
has been visible, so do not get your hopes up for something like a
typical sunset here…  It’s the journey, not the destination, right?
And, being retired with my kid launched has advantages for pursuits
like this… I can try, try again.

Best Regards,


The plan of picking a nearly full moon, and low predicted winds, seems to have paid off. Nevertheless, it was a solo activity. As I was about to leave my house, I checked my email for the day’s inspirational quote, that hits my inbox at 2 AM most mornings.  Was not disappointed.

A Common Meditation for All Souls

The hill, though high, I covet to ascend, 
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, heart, let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.
(John Bunyan, 1628 – 1688) 

Though I have to say, let’s not make too much of this… it is only Cerro de Los Amigos, not K2…  Really, we are just talking about getting up early, and being willing to be a pig in mud. Or rain.  Or wind. As to choosing the right way to go, let’s not belabor the metaphor of bushwhacking on the way down, looking for a better trail…

The summit was pretty calm for winds, but with just enough clouds, moving slowly, to be quite interesting.  The clouds were mostly shades of white and gray, not reds and pinks, and in various forms. Perhaps the lack of dramatic colors is due to the clouds being relatively nearby and low.  But, quite a sight and a very encouraging experience.  I have in mind some other vistas on the summit ridge towards the north for future trips, that will include more of a view to the northwest, including Lake Arenal.  All in all, success.

I did another dawn on 15 August 2017, when the moon was not as full.  On the top, the wind was pretty intense and noisy- the video I took pans up from one of the same vista locations as this trip (that first glance of a wooden circle at the bottom of the frame is a small cable reel on its side, like a table), and you can see the foliage being buffeted, to eventually see the moon above, and a fragment of tower.  With a short glance through the clouds, that was my best previous dawn on Cerros.  This was far better.

Email me at mwjwest@gmail.com if you want to see my gps traces, or join me in the future.

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