The plan was to gather up our friends from Kraken and head to Puerto Plata for an early morning hike up Mount Isabel De Torres. I was finishing a breakfast of cheese blintzes when, just before they arrived, our propane ran out. So I set off on a side quest to the sketchy propane station outside town, with the building manager in tow to show me the place. An hour later, I get back, finish cooking, and we have a nice late start. Could we have abandoned breakfast and just left? Sure — but have you ever heard of me walking away from food?
So with our late start, we pulled up at the base of the hill around 11 or so, and were immediately accosted by several different guides who wanted to show us around. We declined: this is not some historical site, it’s a hill with a pretty view. There’s a walking path up to the top of the mountain, starting from the same place as the “teleférico” cable car, and we figured we’d walk up to the top and take the gondola down. This raises the question: can you buy a one-way ticket at the top? We were jerked around for about 15 minutes while nobody seemed able to answer the question, until we finally threw up our hands and headed to the trail head; we would figure it out at the top.
As we approached the trailhead, a grumpy-looking lady rolled a gate shut in front of us, and informed us that we were not allowed up the trail without a guide. We were (and still are) sure that this is not true, but when pressed, she told us that it was a new law, and that the guides were necessary for our protection. Now, in our group of six, there are at least four competent martial artists. All six are obviously in better shape than any of these unarmed guides. How are you going to protect us if you can’t even keep up? At this point, we’re tired of arguing and being hassled, and we abandon the Teleférico and return to our favorite local restaurant for a delightful lunch.
Spirits much improved, we ask the staff if they know of other places to hike, and they recommend we check out Rio Sonador. So we pile into the car and drive another hour or so away from home. The last few miles take about half the time, because we leave the paved roads for combinations of dirt and cobblestones, and I’m repeatedly thankful that Sombra has four wheel drive. But it’s a scenic drive through the mountains, and we arrive at the top of a hill with a nice view, and all pile out of the car and into the park.
The hike is short but steep, leading down 255 steps (we counted) made out of tires filled in with concrete. At the bottom, the trail splits, with each leg going to a different little waterfall and swimming hole. This is definitely a place that would be worth spending a day, ideally with swimsuits, a picnic, and a big portable speaker.
On the way back, we had to take a picture of this guy’s outfit.
And by the time we passed Puerto Plata again, it was dinner time, and that meant stopping for yet another excellent meal, this time at Sebastian restaurant.