My first time… Hiking up a Volcano!

Photos and posted by Karen Sze

On April 28, 2008 – I scaled my first Volcano!!! Okay, okay – I exaggerate I didn’t reach the peak but still, it’s something of significance for me. I signed up for a day hike with G adventures up Cotopaxi, a dormant stratovolcano that’s about 28 km South of Quito in Ecuador. Standing at 5897 m, it’s the second highest summit in Ecuador, visible from the capital.

Cotopaxi volcano,  the second highest summit in Ecuador

View of Cotopaxi volcano

 

On the hike, I got to meet some lovely people from all around the world – some just got off a 10 day cruise with G adventures to the Galapagos islands and some are going with me on the following day.

At the base of the volcano is a collection of lovely alpine plants…

Wild monkshood flower and seedpod on Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Wild monkshood flower and seedpod

Alpine plants on Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Alpine flowers on hillside of Cotopaxi in Ecuador

Alpine flowers on hillside

 

 

 

We got dropped off at the 4300m mark and had the choice of 2 trails; straight up like a ski slope or the switch back path. We all chose the switch backs to hike up to the Jose Ribas refuge lodge at 4800 m (the yellow speck in the photo).

Starting point of hike up to summit of Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Starting point of hike up to summit of Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Single Woman ready to hike up Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Single Woman ready to hike up Cotopaxi, Ecuador

 

 

Little did I know part way up there would be snow and sleet! Sometimes it pays to research in advance! This time around I didn’t and I paid for it and froze a bit! I didn’t have a toque (canadian version of a knitted hat)! All I wore was my hiking boots (YAY!), wool socks, thin cotton capri pants, thin soft shell jacket (stopped some of the wind and snow – no hood), my new scarf and a thin t-shirt. Does bra and panties count as a layer?? For future reference, dress in proper layers and bring extra to share!! You never know when it’ll start snowing! My fingers froze as I didn’t have any sort of gloves or mitts…

An unexpected reward to the hike was spotting this fox!!!! Apparently I was the only one who saw this gorgeous animal and got a photo as proof!

Spotted wild fox on Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador

Wild fox spotted on Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador

 

During this hike, I experienced a bit of altitude sickness, so I took it easy and drank lots of water. As the clouds cleared, with my goal in sight – it was a great feeling.

It’s the same in life, when you’ve been walking down an uncertain path to a certain goal, very rewarding to know you’re close. Remember to look back and be proud of how far you’ve come along.

 

The next volcano I hike, better be slightly active! I want to make myself a S’more on the spot!!

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