Volcano Boarding and Free Mojitos
Leon Travel Blog› entry 2 of 6 › view all entries
December 22nd, 2008 – by: Zymosis
Following the epic/lucky journey from SFO to Managua, I made my way to Leon, eventually. The original plan had been to stop in a northern town to tour some of the infamous cigar factories, but upon arrival we discovered that everything was closed due to a huge holiday fiesta. We decided to cruise to Leon, via a pothole-strewn ¨highway¨ that passes by several of the volcanos. After arriving in Leon and finding a place to stay, I wandered around town, exploring the city and taking in the sights. I also checked out a few local tour companies to get a bit more information about the volcano boarding on Cerro Negro.
Volcano boarding is exactly what it sounds like - hauling ass down an active volcano with your butt on a slick (and seriously unstable) board. There are a few local outfits that organize the trips, using everything from tricked-out snowboards to plywood-and-2x4 planks with slick bottoms.Apparently the snowboards are only able to get up to about 10mph (so I´m told...), but the current record for the butt-boards is 77kmph. Yeah, that´s pretty fast.
An hour in the back of a pickup brings you to the base of Cerro Negro. The hike up crosses some debris fields, up a sketch trail through the scree, and then along the rim to the top of the ¨run.¨ Before heading down the mountain we walked around the rim and down into one of the craters where the ground is a colorful clusterfuck of calcium deposits, sulfer, and active vents. From the rim we could see the entire line of volcanos in the region, 14 in total, I believe.
The slope for the decent is pretty steep - around 43 degrees on the bottom half - and the marble-sized lava aint exactly fresh powder.Eric Barone broke the mountain biking speed record going down the same run we went down (video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swq9hBdvkKU). However, he crashed really, really hard when his bike exploded near the bottom at 107mph. We suited up in the provided prison-spec orange jumpsuits and googles and got ready.
Steering these things isn´t easy. I floundered on the first third of the run trying to keep the thing straight and finally had to stop, reposition myself, and resume. I got the hang from there down and was clocked doing 50kmph. If I could have had a second run, knowing how to steer, I´m pretty sure I could have hit 65-70kmph. Once you get up to speed it´s damn-near impossible to see anything, even with the goggles. I had rocks in places I didn´t know I could get rocks, including the inside of my sealed drybag (wtf?). I picked pebbles out of my hair for almost two days.
Got back to Leon around 6pm, was greeted with free mojitos, conversed a bit, and then headed to the coast. Also, I realized that I left my USB camera cable at home so I can´t upload pictures until I get back.
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