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.
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…
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).
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!
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!!