Hiking up Cotopaxi! April 9, 2012

30 07 2012

We met our driver, Lincoln at some ungodly early time in the morning and headed out from our hotel to start out on the “Avenue of the Volcanos” The idea was that if we left early enough, we might actually SEE some of them before the afternoon clouds came in.  We headed south from Quito and sure enough, the clouds had already covered the tops of many of the volcanos. That’s OK, the drive wasn’t too bad anyway.  We arrived at the base of the Cotopaxi National Park, and Lincoln registered the vehicle as entering.

Parque Nacional Cotopaxi

We drove up to a small building where we had a lot of the background of the volcano explained and a last chance to get some snacks, coca tea or water.   Our next stop was Laguna Limpiopungo.  There were some andean gulls flying around, but none of them close enough for a good picture.   We did see this one little lonely bird around 4200m though… Not sure what he is (Stout Billed Cincoldes, Cinclodes excelsior)

A lonely bird.

The parking area was at 4500m and the wind was whipping up a good chill.  It was NOT warm.  We got our gear on and began the hike up the side of the volcano.  Not much switchback stuff, just UP.  It was on loose, gravelly moraine so you basically gained 2 steps for every 3.   The going was tough.  It was my personal goal to hike 25 steps before stopping and sucking wind.   There were a couple of times that I just thought “Forget it.  I’ll meet them when they come down!”  But we all made it eventually!  4810m was the height of the shelter.

4810m Wow! We made it.

The Views, when the clouds lifted briefly were lovely!

Volcanic plains of Cotopaxi

It was a real surprise to run into a couple of nuns hiking up while we were heading down.

Hiking nuns

We did all make it down eventually, as the fog settled in and shortly before the hail started

Descending in the fog

After hiking the volcano, we headed towards Banos for the night.  We stopped at a lovely Hacienda for lunch

An old Hacienda turned guesthouse

The day’s pictures can all be found at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragonspeed/sets/72157630823818268/with/7677997520/

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