Saturday, November 26, 2005

The crazy hike ....

Well, today was an interesting day! It`s Saturday and a few of us decided we`d like to go to Parque Nationale de Cajas for a good ole` hike! So with Florian as our guide (yup, that´s him below, one of our German friends from Spanish school who has been on this hike a few times but admits himself this isnt his chosen profession!), Amber, Joe, Dominique and I headed off.. (having NO idea what was in store for us!).

Took the bus about an hour out of Cuenca; you could see the landscape getting more and more beautiful! Found our "hole in the barbed wire fence" - literally - which was the beginning of our hike and so we headed off. Two men we met said to be careful as they found ice in the streams which meant it would be getting cold earlier than usual on the mountains,(some people have died in this park area due to hypothermia as the afternoon mists come in very quickly and dioriente you from seeing the bottom of the trail!). Gulp! But actually it was a beautiful, hot sunny day and we were all in great form, chatting away as we headed up the mountain (oh did i mention i was huffing and puffing as usual, dont know if im a blob or its altitude sickness a little bit but i am one SLOWWWWW hiker.. )
Anyway, after lunch we continued up the mountain, seeing some beautiful views of up to 10 different lagoons in the park, so all was going well, if a little steep! As we were nearing the top of the mountain (Cerra Amerillo -Yellow Mountain - at 4,451 metres the highest i had ever hiked to so far!), we came upon a particularly nasty section of very loose rock and nothing much to hold onto, and we had to get across this to reach the top- there really wasnt an alternative! Joe and Amber went first and said, "Be careful, its really dangerous" which of course made me immediately nervous! So I tried to follow their path and inch my way across this narrow section of scareyness....BUT... (and remember we are on the edge of a bluudy big mountain at over 4,300 metres at this point and if you fall, you pretty much fall off the side of the mountain!) my feet didnt really get a good grip, and i started sliding down. I´m not kidding, i thought i was a goner... seriously folks! I managed to grab a big rock with one hand and with Amber and Joe giving me directions and encouragement i finally managed to scramble across the dodgy area.. but i was like jelly! AND they both said after the fact, they werent sure if i was going to make it (phew - thank goodness they didnt tell me that till later!). But in case you think i was the only loser, it wasnt just me - Dom also had a scary moment when she couldnt get a grip and she was holding on with just her hands, but she managed to pull herself up too... so a bloomin` scary time for all.But i will say once we got to the top it was really amazing - check out the pics. Hope you agree.

We then quickly headed down the mountain to get ahead of the fog clouds, and hitched a lift back to town in the back of a pick up truck (what fun the driver had with his pals going about 100 miles an hour on the worlds curviest road to have a laugh at the gringos!) Nah, actually they were really nice and wouldn´t even take any money from us for the ride down the mountain... awfully good of them!

So another wild but fabulous day!


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