by Chris Warren
For this month’s Daytripper I’m excited to share my favorite local hike: La Muela. It’s long enough that you get the chance to enjoy a wide variety of scenery, but it shouldn’t leave you too exhausted. For those who have misplaced their Spanish dental vocabulary flash cards, “La Muela” means The Molar. This makes a lot more sense once you see the thing up close.
To begin, simply walk a couple blocks southeast of the Parque Central, where there is a gas station from which buses depart for Zunil and Almolonga.
I recommend hopping on a bus or pickup that is heading up out of town so as to avoid roughly a mile of inhaling exhaust fumes (though you can walk alongside the highway if you want). Let the ayudante know that you’re heading to “La Muela”.
They should drop you off up the road where there is a turnoff on the right-hand side that continues to climb up into the mountains. The trip shouldn’t cost more than 1Q.
Hike up this road and you’ll pass through pine forest, a gated community called “Vista Hermosa” and eventually you’ll follow a rocky bluff that will be off to your right where there are some fields. Continue until you see a dirt turn-off on your right that’s wide enough for an ambitious pickup driver to ascend. If you see a tienda on your left, you’ve gone too far.
Climb that dirt road until you reach a huge grass field. I strongly recommend bringing a soccer ball or frisbee, since this is undoubtedly Xela’s coolest sports field. Or just bring a picnic, which you can enjoy in the shadow of the immense, Lord of the Rings-esque rock formations that comprise La Muela.
To complete your journey, find the path on the opposite side of the field and follow it until you see a small sauna (which as of mid-February was under construction). Right before you reach the sauna, look up the mountain to your right and start your climb through the volcanic rock field.
If you’re as familiar with mid 90’s Nickelodeon as I am, you can enjoy pretending that you’re ascending a 2900m (9500 foot) Super Aggro Crag! After 20 min or so you’ll reach the top, where you’re free to continue exploring the vast rocky expanse or just pick a nice spot to enjoy the panoramic views.