Sunday, October 10, 2010
Friday I took a tour of Cajas National Park through my friend Juan Heredia's company Terra Diversa. As I watched chilly, drizzling rain come down while waiting for the van to arrive I was questioning both my wisdom and sanity. This was to be a full day of hiking at high elevations, and we had all been advised to wear warm, waterproof clothing. Trekking around for 8 hours in a frigid rainstorm conjured up no images of an enjoyable outing.
But you never know what the weather is going to do here and thankfully the rain stopped on our way to the park and didn't return until we were in the parking lot of a restaurant after the excursion. Cajas is a massive park covering over 70,000 acres with altitudes ranging from 10,000 to 14,500 feet. Within its area are 235 lakes, two of which we walked around.
The diversity of ecosystems is remarkable. One minute you're out in the open; the next you find yourself in a lush forest bursting with ferns and mosses. Or because of the position of the sun and protection from the wind a sliver of dense, gnarly woods that feels straight out of Lord of the Rings thrives on the side of an otherwise barren mountain.
This hike was quite strenuous, and the high altitude had us all huffing and puffing frequently. The van took us as high as 13,500 feet for a panoramic view. Damn, it was cold up there! Photos really can't capture the sights adequately, but I've included some to give you a taste of what we experienced.
After a late lunch at a trout restaurant we returned to Cuenca, only a 35 minute drive away. There was a noticeable absence of conversation as we were all pooped. Gringo Night didn't happen for me. Some rum and an early bedtime were all I could muster.
Posted by Edd Staton at 11:04 AM