Tracy and I spent two weeks earlier this summer in Ecuador and after a relaxing week in the Galapagos Islands we headed for the Andes Mountains with our friends NI and BB. Before our big Cotopaxi peak climb(subject of a previous post), we needed to acclimate to the altitude. We spent a few days in the high sierra hiking to progressively higher elevations and our first big hike in this process was a circuit of the Quilatoa Crater(elevation 12841ft). This crater and lake is the top of a huge volcano and was formed when is last erupted around 1280 AD.
|The trail travels along the crater ridge including the many ascents and descents of the peaks along the rim.|
|This 6 hour hike was great for training but certainly harder on the legs and lungs than anticipated.|
|Throughout the day the fog would occasionally pour in and fill the crater, creating an eerie but beautiful landscape.|
|For me at least, beautiful spots are always made a little more special if they are very hard to get to.|
|This fellow seemed to be rather enjoying his time by the lake despite the awkward contraption he was left holding.|
|When the sun peaked through a couple of times throughout the day we were able to get a few glimpses of the true stunning colors of the lake.|
|Here are the four of us at the highest point of the trail. Happy to have made the climb up and momentarily forgetting how painful a 2000ft descent can be.|
We had to debate after the trip which of our three Andes Mountain hikes was the most strenuous. Each had their own unique challenge. Cotopaxi had a lot of ice and very little air(my vote for most strenuous). This Quilatoa hike had so many small, steep, quadriceps burning climbs that our legs never fully recovered the rest of the week. Our third hike was up the the peak of Volcán Rumiñahui…this terrifying adventure will be the subject of a future post.