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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cajas on My Mind

Last Saturday, our hiking group decided to do a nice 8km hike through the Cajas which ended up as 13km, with a few of the group sleeping over night in a lovely grove that would be well sheltered from the weather, if lacking in amenities. I wasn't going to go. The Cajas are notorious for cranky weather, uneven and poorly marked trails and I'm still recovering from my injuries.

That morning, the skies looked quite clear, I could see the mountains and just couldn't stand the thought of staying in the house one more day, so I geared up and off Ron and I went to the meeting point. We had to wait for the bus for over an hour...this is Ecuador, after all and my tendon started cramping up, but I persevered.
Lady of the Waterfall
The delay didn't do us much favours with the weather. After about 40 minutes on the bus, we debarked (de-bussed?) and were met with hail. Thankfully, most of us had dressed appropriately and it was but a minor irritant. Side note: layers are important under these circumstances, I only had a running shirt on and they my rain jacket and could feel the little pellets binging off my shoulders. It hailed so much that the ground was white and though none of us suggested not continuing, I did wonder what I'd gotten myself into. I added another layer between me and the projectiles and found myself far more comfortable.
Thanks LT, for the photo..the white stuff is hail.
The good news was that the sky eventually relented and we dried out and made it to the camping spot with only one member taking a tumble. (It wasn't me.) The scenery was stunning; filled with lakes, waterfalls and empty vistas that make you feel like there's no one else on the planet. (Except the 14 people we were hiking with, of course.)
The shelter of the wooded copse

Paper trees - one of the few that grow well at
high altitude

Some witty person said we're like the children of Isreal
spreading out across our land
Those of us that weren't staying over had another 3kms or so, to get back to the main road and try and catch a bus. The passage took down two more of us, myself included. (This is bad news, the last thing I need to do is fall on my broken bum, which bears the question why was I there in the first place? Hind sight is 20/20 as they say.) 
A gentleman fisher
Lone tree

One of the many river valleys through the Cajas
We were incredibly lucky to catch a bus only minutes after arriving at the highway and as we headed back home the sun started breaking through the cloud cover, just in time to welcome us back to Cuenca.
Credit John Keeble - Master of the Action shot

Actual footage of me going down on my butt
I'm suffering for the fall, or possibly, just because that's how this healing process goes, but it was worth it. There is no better balm for the soul than being out in nature, but for the time, my big hike days are on hold. I can't wait for the time when I can fearlessly strap on my boots and get back out into the wild.

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