Ecuador Extravaganza: Dia Tres
Two truths and a lie: figure out which one is not true
8 college students voluntarily woke up before 5:00AM
We hiked a volcano that was about 70 degrees at the bottom and hailing at the top
We slid down said volcano holding on to nothing but Andean grass.
Actually all three of these are true!
4:50 AM. The first alarms of the morning began to fill the room. By 5:00 AM, we were all by the fire outside huddling for warmth. As the fire grew, our guide David made us a local tea called Wayusa, known for its energy properties. The tea had a very strong flavor and was delicious. This morning fireside chat customarily takes place slightly earlier in the morning (3-4AM), we enjoyed being able to participate later than normal because we knew we had a long hike in front of us in the morning. After warming up by the fire, David suggested we climb to a nearby outlook to see the sun rise. From the fire to the outlook it was supposed to be about 15 minutes. About 5 mins into the walk, the altitude kicked in. We were all struggling with relatively mild uphill hike. In order to save energy we turned around and went to another outlook that was slightly closer. This was a little worrisome knowing we were about to hike a __ ft high volcano later. The views from the outlook were stunning. The peaks of the mountains climbed above the clouds. The shadow blanket covering the mountains and volcanoes in the distance slowly disappeared as the sun grew higher in the sky. By 6:30 AM we were all ready for bed.
8:30 AM. Waking up for another delicious breakfast of local fruits and fresh bread felt like a separate day from our morning hike. After packing our hiking backpacks, we headed out on the bus for the 40 minute drive to Fuya.
Fuya, the tallest dormant volcano in the world. The views from the bus ride was an activity in itself. In all directions mountains and valleys were filled with plants, farms and life.
9:15 AM From the parking lot at the base of the volcano you could not see the peak. We did a group stretch to prepare for the hike ahead of us. It did not take long into the journey upwards to feel the altitude. It was a challenge to walk 100 feet without stopping. The journey up the volcano was filled with lots of pit stops. A lot. We had packed snacks from the market from the previous day including plantain chips (a crowd favorite), chocolate bars, peanuts and a corn chips. The weather at the base felt like summer. Sunny and warm. We decided as a group to take the steeper, more challenging, but shorter path to get to the summit when the path diverged. Some parts required getting on our hands and knees to get through the terrain. Once we were about a 1/5 from the summit it began to hail. Winter had come. With only a short distance to go we were determined to continue to the top despite the ever increasing deluge of hail. It started to get slippery. We made it to the top. The view, even with the hail freezing our hands, was incredible. From all sides the Andes rose above the Earth. It was a long way from where we had started. After a group picture with an Ecuadorian flag we decided it was time to go down before we slid off the mountain. Originally we had planned to take a different route back, but the hail changed our plans. We were going back down the way we had come. We all took a deep breath. This was going to be a challenge. With our hands frozen and jackets wet, we began the descent down. At some point during the journey back, we all took a muddy tumble at least once. The path we took up, we quickly realized was going to be too muddy to go back down. Off-roading we went. I would like to make a special shout out to the Andean grass for helping us all get down the mountain safely. This long strong grass provided us something to hold onto as we forged our own path. Our hands were covered in hail. Sometimes the only way down was to sit down and slide over the grass. By 3:00 PM we had made it back to the bus, arms and legs feeling like jello. After the ride back we had a hot and delicious potato avocado soup and crispy empanadas.