16-Apr-2014 -- This is the last out of 3 reports reaching or attempting confluence points in the Dominican Republic. The story continues from 19°N 70°W.
This confluence has been remaining unvisited for a good reason: it is located 2.5 km south of the 3175 m high Pico Duarte, in the Parque Nacional José del Carmen Ramírez. The nearest road seems to be 9 km south and 1500 m lower to the confluence point. This road follows the valley of Rio Yaque del Sur and ends at a dam at an height of 800 m. We however opted for another approach, which allows getting up to 2.5 km to the confluence on a footpath. This approach is the common route to climb the highest Mountain in the Caribbean: the Pico Duarte.
On the first day, we drove from the town Jarabacoa to the last village in the valley of the Rio Yaque del Norte. This village is called La Ciénaga (note that nearly every second village is called La Ciénaga on the Island) and it is located 16 km north-east of the confluence. When we reached the village, we were surrounded by a crowed of tour guides. Normally, I never take tour guides while hiking, but the park rule requires taking at least one guide. So we were with Eduardo, an experienced guide who had been on the mountain more than 1000 times already. He helped us shopping for food in the village and showed us a good spot for camping near the park gate.
The next morning we started at 7 AM (at an elevation of 1111 m) from La Ciénaga. Now it became clear, why we had to take two mules with us: one for carrying the luggage and one for Eduardo to ride on. So we hiked and Eduardo rode behind us in some distance. The total ascend to the mountain peak is 2500 m (including a drop-down in-between of about 500 m). Normally, the hikers climb to a hut called La Compartición at 2400 m elevation and do the approach to the peak the following day. We however reached the hut already at 2 PM and decided to make the race to the top right away rather than staying half a day at the hut. With this decision, the visit of the confluence was lost. We reached the top at 4:30 PM and there was no time for bush tracking those missing 2.5 km.
From the Pico Duarte, I went a bit further towards the confluence. The hiking speed in this rocky and densely vegetated terrain was about 1 km/h. Such that I estimate 5 hours return for a successful confluence visit from Pico Duarte. Theoretically, I could have made an attempt, leaving behind an unhappy Elionora and a protesting or worried Eduardo. I opted for a harmonic descend and a camp-fire night together at the hut. The next morning, we descended down back to La Ciénaga.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to an asphalt road: >9 km
- Distance to an unpaved track: 9 km
- Distance to a footpath: 2.5 km
- Distance of car parking: 16 km
- Time to hike to the point of return: 9.5 hours
- Time at the point of return: 5:15 PM
- Measured height: 3093 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 2500 m
- Position accuracy: 6 m
- Topography: mountainous
- Vegetation: pine trees, mostly burned down 7 years ago
- Weather: cloudy, 15° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Lazy Mule Confluence
Pictures of our trip can be found here. The story finishes here.