Cerro Negro is a young volcano in the Cordillera de los Maribios mountain range in northwest Nicaragua. It first appeared in April 1850, which amazes me. To think of an entire mountain just appearing out of the core of the Earth…wow. As the plates of land slide along slowly over the hot spots of the soft mantle below, every now and then the earth has to vent some of the pressure and heat and it punches a skylight up to the above.
I think it’s fitting I climb this particular volcano, purely by chance, instead of any of the others we have seen throughout Central America. Cerro Negro means “Black Hill” and I am from the Black Hills of South Dakota. There’s a serendipitous symmetry in it that I like.
Jergen, with Bike Nicaragua, has agreed to take us out in his 4X4 to the base and then guide us up the volcano. We have to drive about 20 miles on some rough roads and in deep black sand, so I’m glad once I see the road that we didn’t choose to ride the bikes out here. He parks his Landcruiser at the base and off we go across the rocky lava field.
After climbing over some of the bigger rocks we reach a point where we start to angle up the volcanos side toward the rim of the crater. the lava rock is smaller here and very shifty like loose gravel.
As the virtually weightless rocks tumble down they make a hollow crystal clanking sound.
Finally we reach the rim and start to climb from the lower end of it up around to the top.
When I look back I can see the trail we have crossed and just make out the Landcruiser in the distance. (It’s there, I promise, but it’s tiny.)
We round the crater to the other side and see the “exit” for the trail.
But instead Jergen leads us up to the furthest peak of the crater rim where we look over and see a higher crater above the larger lower one.
We have each carried our own beer to enjoy while watching the sunset. And what a beauty it is…overlooking the “Black Hills” that have been punched in a neat row into the land of Nicaragua.
Now for the fun part (well, it was actually all fun)…the steep running descent down the slope of the volcano in ankle deep black sand and tiny bits of lava rock.