Do Not Enter Trail, Utila

The Hunt for Pumpkin Hill

Monday June 17, 2013

Do Not Enter Trail, Utila

Waking up bright and early this morning, I wanted to make sure that I could get all three of us checked into Honduras before our little secret was let out that we had not actually checked in on the mainland, as everyone was assuming we had. Quickly stopping by Nate’s hostel, I picked up his passport and once more made my way back to the customs and immigration offices. Only to find out that it was a holiday, and they would not be open until 11:30 am. I could have taken the dinghy back to the boat to wait out those extra couple of hours, but the boat didn’t have internet, and I was still itching to get it whenever I could. Back to Trudy’s hostel, I sat at a table by myself, working and fooling around online for awhile until Nate spotted me and stopped by. He asked what we were doing that day, which is laughable, because we never make plans. Ever since Rode Trip left us to make their trek across the Atlantic (which, by the way, they’re doing well and averaging about 4 knots a day, from what I can see on their website), we’ve had no one to make plans for us, and usually aimlessly wander the streets in search of something to hold our interest. We had somewhat talked about taking a hike around the island though, and when I mentioned this to Nate, he said that a new friend of his told him about a place called Pumpkin Hill, the highest spot on the island, and that it was a good place to hike to.

After getting us legally checked in (“When did we get here? Oh…this morning. We just got here this morning…”), I gathered Matt and we met up with Nate once more at his hostel before beginning our hike. The rain that had been plaguing us on and off for the past few days did not look like it was going to let up this afternoon, I prepared myself by wearing a swimsuit for the hike since I was 90% sure I’d get wet anyway. The three of us set off on the main road across a little bridge, taking the advice of Nate’s friend, that it would ‘only take us 20 minutes’ to get there. We walked on the dirt road, rounding the corner of the island and not seeing anything that resembled a hill in front of us.  We did stumble upon an assortment of vacation homes, and, playing the game that we normally do when we arrive at a new place, started a round of “Ok, I could live here”.  The houses were great, and on great beach front access with waves from the sea rolling in and crashing on shore, but then I thought to myself “No, I don’t want to live on this island.  There’s nothing for me here.”.  Hmmm, that’s never happened before.  I don’t know what it is, this island just hasn’t captivated me yet.

Palm trees on Utila

Vacation home in Utila Honduras

Continuing down the road, we were just turning a corner that was leading us into a wooded area, and we hoped hills, when it began to rain.  I was ok with this, I had even dressed for it, but it was when we rounded another corner and saw that the entire road was flooded in rain, I started to rethink our plan of an afternoon hike.  Each of us tiptoed on the sideline of the lake like puddle, trying to keep our feet as dry as possible.  I had also anticipated something like this and worn water shoes, Matt was in flip flops, but poor Nate was in non water friendly foot wear, and would practically walk through the bushes to keep from submerging his feet in the murky water.  That only lasted so long before each of them lost balance at some point and soaked their shoes all the way through.  By this time, I had given up trying to stay dry in any way, shape or form, and was busy splashing through each lake puddle we came to.

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walk in rain

(Above photo courtesy of Nate Smith)


On and on we walked through the muddy paths as it rained on and off.  In and out of woods, open expanses and small slopes, but still no hills in sight.  We took a few minutes to wander off the beaten path and explore the shore in an area that was covered in small black coral fragments, and waves came crashing in to the shore.  I decided that, however unlikely it was, this is the spot I would build my house if I ever lived on this island, however impractical it was.

Coral Shore Utila

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Back on the muddy path we wound through pastures filled with cows and finally out on to a main road.  We thought we might be getting close, and although we had no sense of direction at this point, decided to make a right hand turn since we figured following the coast line would probably put us closer to wherever the hill was.  Walking down this road, it once more turned from pavement to dirt, as they all tend to do, and it began pouring on us once more.  Finally fed up with our searching, we hailed a truck that was driving past to ask for directions.  From the one person on the island that doesn’t speak any English.  We got through that we were looking for Pumpkin Hill, and he motioned that we had been going the wrong way, and for us to hop in so he could give us a lift to where it actually was.  The three of us climbed in to the truck bed, which was already filled with large rocks being transported from one location to another.  There was barely any place to sit, let alone hold on, and when he started going we bumped back and forth, ducking our head for low branches on the side of the road that the driver seemed to be aiming directly for our heads.  After a five minute ride and countless times of almost getting thrown off while flying over bumps in the road, we were deposited by a dirt path on the side of the road and told to follow it up, where we would find Pumpkin Hill.  Or that’s what we gathered from the Spanglish being exchanged between us.

truck ride in Ultila


The three of us began the trek up this muddy hill, also filled with lakes of puddles, and probably ready to turn around, but at the same time, determined to find Pumpkin Hill.   We were constantly being passed by locals on 4 wheelers and figured that would have been a much better way to take this trip.  Through the next 30 minutes we followed the path through more fields and calf deep puddles.  Then abruptly, the road ended.  At the end of the road was a somewhat large mound next to us, we assumed Pumpkin Hill, but no trails leading up it.  Multiple times we walked up a narrow dirt path, only to find it led to someone’s private home, and had to wander back down it to the main trail.  Walking through open fields of what looks like is supposed to be a new development eventually, we searched the hill from every angle and still came up empty handed.  There would be no climb to the top today.  A little disappointed, but mostly cold and exhausted, we claimed defeat and began the trudge back to town.

Trail to Pumpkin Hill Utila