20-Jan-2004 -- My boyfriend Chris and I were backpacking through Belize for 3 weeks. Halfway through the trip, we stopped in San Ignacio where we explored Mayan ruins, canoed through caves that Mayans once inhabited, and made arrangements for a guide for this project.
We met up with Jose in town in the late morning, and drove through the villages outside town into Mountain Pine Ridge Park. It wasn't too far, and we stopped the car less than a mile from the confluence along a logging road.
The jungle didn't look too bad, it was open pine forest with low-lying vegetation. Jose originally intended just to drop us off and wait for us to be picked up, but decided at the last minute to go with us a bit to show us the dangerous plants to watch for.
Of course, the GPS unit didn't show the topography of what we were about to get into... we found ourselves climbing straight up and over unexcavated ruins surrounded by dense jungle, with trees covered with thousands of needles and vines covered with pretty little flowers and tiny thorns.
The grass in the low-lying vegetation was strong and sharp, and would shred our pants if we didn't walk carefully through it. Fields of ferns grew thick and high, and as each person would disappear in it, it would re-tangle behind them to challenge the next person.
The confluence was just across the Rio On, so we had to rock-hop across the rushing river, and one slip of the foot would send us over waterfalls. We handed bags back and forth in case of accidents in slimy spots. Straight up the other bank, we reached our destination in the most open forested area of the trip.
It was getting to be late afternoon, and we headed back down the hill after hitting the exact GPS spot. Our guide knew of a road that parallels the river further up, so we began scrambling up river, rock-hopping the whole way because the jungle was too dense around the river to stay on land.