Kichuguecha to Quebrada Mari

Day 3 – March 19

Hiking – 11.6 km (7.2 miles), 467 meters (1,532 ft) elevation gain.


Not that Coroma was a metropolis (no stores, offices or really anything but gardens and houses) but Kichuguecha was as close as you could get to nothing and still be something.  The only building is the community house where people from the surrounding area meet to make decisions or celebrate events.

It’s simply a long platform on stilts with a thatched roof and a cooking box at one end but we were ecstatic to be invited to stay.

The Bridge (almost) Too Far

The vines between the hand cables and the foot cables helped stabilize the bridge
Cable bridge

Kichuguecha was the last outpost of civilization before the wilderness.  The cable across the river near the community house gave access to small garden plots and fishing on the far bank of the Río Coen but from there the trail only headed downstream and we’d be relying on our baqueano’s skills to navigate to the continental divide where we could join a national park trail in the heart of Amistad.

The guides weren’t thrilled at the prospect of crossing the cable in the first place then one of the locals started giving all sorts of advice about how not to fall.  We had all night to think about it right outside the long house and by morning there was palpable tension.

Chris and I have both been walking slacklines for a couple of decades so this looked like a piece of cake since there were hand high cables to steady yourself.  It was a little disconcerting when in the morning everyone from a 2 km radius showed up to watch the gringos land in the river from 30 feet up.  I don’t like thinking about things so I hefted my pack and walked across.

A couple of porters followed and cheers went up every time someone crossed.  Everyone was starting to wonder what all the fuss was when Andy went horizontal and his foot  slipped off.

Camp Quebrada Mari

Rare sunshine
Rare sunshine

I’ve been cooking on the same Whisperlite International backpacking stove for about 30 years.  It is one of the best pieces of back country gear anyone could ever hope to own and if you’re looking at liquid fuel stoves there is no point in even considering anything else.

I wish someone had given me that advice before I went to REI.  The only problem with the Whisperlite International in Costa Rica is that they don’t sell white gas stove fuel there.  I’ve found it in 47 countries around the world but in the 23 years I’ve been searching for it in Costa Rica I’ve only seen a single can that someone smuggled in their suitcase before the increased security of 9/11.

Along the narrow  bank
Along the narrow bank

The sales person at REI was very knowledgeable and despite my misgivings convinced me that the Soto Muka was the new International and capable of burning unleaded gasoline instead of white gas stove fuel.  I bought two.

They worked fantastically when I tested them, really well in Kichuguecha for dinner on day 2, okay for breakfast on day 3 and died completely during dinner prep at Quebrada Mari on day 3.  Obviously despite their multi-level filtration and fuel injection instant on technology they were clogged by the buildup from burning unleaded gas which doesn’t burn as hot or clean as white gas.


At that point we had two $200 bricks because unlike the International which can be completely field stripped and rebuilt from a thimble sized parts kit the Soto Muka ins factory sealed and cannot be cleaned or repaired.  Fortunately they are very light bricks and I carried them home for a refund.

Because of the stove problems we ate lukewarm Potato Alu and semi-crunchy Mountain Meal Pad Thai.

Justin didn’t get his tent staked properly when he was setting it up and spent the night being dripped on.  I know the feeling as I’ve done the same.  You’re laying there thinking “there must be some angle I can contort my body into where the drips won’t hit me…I’m not going out there in this mess at 2:00 a.m. to try to fix it.”  Then by about 5:30 you haven’t had any sleep at all and wish you’d gone out at 2:00 but instead you have to get up and pack a tent that’s wet on the inside and out and get on with the day.

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Photo Gallery Day 3 – Kichuguecha to Quebrada Mari

Each of the images below is linked to a larger version with a detailed description

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