CABRA  The Climb of Cerro Cabra, Panama 1979

"Tuve una vida en Panamá, al pie de Cerro Cabra ..."

Cerro Cabra: Because It's There!

Cerro Cabra (Goat Hill: elevation 1663 ft), District of Arraiján, as viewed from the flightline at Howard Air Force Base. Working on the flightline, I would see the jungle-laden mountains across the runway every day.

Cerro Cabra as viewed from Ancon Hill. Panama Canal in foreground:

Not known by name as well as Ancon Hill or Sosa Hill, "Goat Hill" is the most prominent mountain on the horizon as you look "up the coast" from the Panama Canal, lying just beyond the former Howard AFB. It is what one sees across the runway at Howard (Today: Panama Pacifico). Of course, it beckons to be scaled! 1663 feet doesn't sound like all that much of an elevation, but it is deceptive. You are climbing up a ridge and when you get to the top you see a valley, and then another (higher) ridge. It is like this the whole way up. There are some trails to make it a little easier. Watch out for the spider webs! Really exotic looking spiders, too. And bring plenty of water. You will need it.

On our way ...

At the summit at last!
You're only at the top when there is no where else to go but down ...

What is it like at the top? Well, there is one last little knob on top of all those cascading ridges. No trail at that time, and it was steep. At the very summit was a large boulder, and the view was spectacular.

View from the summit:

The two of us that reached the top decided to descend down the back side of Cerro Cabra, all the way back down to sea level, mind you, with the intent of catching a chiva bus back to Howard. This almost backfired as we quickly found ourselves in a field of (what we called) elephant grass … blades of grass taller than us and so thick that it could have gone on till sunset with us still trying to find our way out … having lost our sense of direction since no horizon was visible. Lady Luck was with us and we quickly found a trail that went all the way down to the town of Vera Cruz.

I vaguely remember the backside of the mountain being almost completely deforested, but there was no time left to be the Indian with the tear rolling down the cheek. Sunset was approaching. We only saw one Panamanian until we got down to Vera Cruz. He sure was puzzled to see two gringos out in the middle of nowhere and wanted to know why we weren’t working! We all shared a hearty laugh as I replied, "¡está domingo!". The rest of our journey was uneventful. Chuleta ... that cold cerveza sure went down quick …

On our way home. Taking one last look at the top, after having reached it.

"Because it's there!"

From Panama today: Mariel R. Ulloa G.'s  2011 Ascent of Cerro Cabra (In Spanish, with photos and videos.)

All photos ... © 1978, 1979, 1981, 1999, 2000 Bud Tristano

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