We've been carrying our backpacking gear with us for months and I was starting to wonder if we'd ever use it. We found the perfect opportunity outside of Oaxaca. High in the mountains, there is a group of small villages that have joined together to form an eco-tourism collective called the Pueblos Mancomunados. Each village has an information office and a set of cabañas (cabins) with places for tents as well, and all proceeds from entrance and camping fees are shared throughout the communities. Connecting all the villages are a series of hiking and mountain biking trails.

Together with Jenna, Josh, Chris, and Jenn, we planned a four night loop that would get us back to pretty much where we started. We parked our cars, packed up our gear, spoke to the people at the information office about our route, and headed out. Knowing we would get a late start the first day, we planned on stopping just a few miles down the trail at a camp spot marked on the map. I say trail, but it was really more of a narrow country lane.

And what I thought might just be a clearing in the woods for the camp spot, turned out to be a trout farm with a small restaurant on site. It was a beautiful location surrounded by tall pine trees, and the family that runs it plucked trout fresh out of the water to cook us dinner. Later that night, sitting around a campfire, having a few drinks, we were all in high spirits and looking forward to the next couple of days

The next few days ended up alternating between exhilarating and grueling. The scenery was some of the most stunning I've ever experienced, and the Pueblos were quiet and serene. The terrain however was some of the most brutal I've ever hiked on. At times the trails were similar to the first day; wide and well graded. At other times it was narrow and incredibly steep; they seem to have never heard of a switchback. Ascending the long steep mountainsides was exhausting and coming down the other side wrecked my knees (they hurt for a week after we were done and Natasha lost a few toenails).

The incredible views, and getting to end each day in a beautiful mountaintop village with tiendas that sold cold beer, made it all worth it though.

On our last night, Natasha and I got a cabaña which was super cozy and the bed was heaven after three hard days of hiking. The next day we had just about five miles to hike to get back to the cars, but we just couldn't tear ourselves away from the cabin. We paid for another night, told our friends we would meet up with them later, and settled in for a relaxing day in our beautiful surroundings.

Later that afternoon, the guy from the office came to tell us we had a phone call...we were sure that our friends had arrived at the end of the trail to find that our cars had been broken in to or worse. When I get to the phone, it turns out that they just wanted to let us know that the last day of hiking was just as hard as the previous ones, but that the trail was completely drivable. We felt a little like cheaters, but the guilt didn't stop us from accepting their offer of a ride the next morning.  Thanks Chris:)