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Published: July 22nd 2013
Today we finally got up and out early enough ( our normal one hour of coffee watching the hummingbirds and listening t NPR had to be cut short...choices, choices) to get up the Volcan Pichincha, once very active but now at least a bit dormant even though it is monitored. We walked about 1/2 way to the bottom of the Teleferico (3-4k) and took a taxi the rest of the way(recommended by all travel experts because of a plethora of malo hombres near on the way to the ticket booth).
The place was full of locals and touristas. We stood in line for a ticket for about an hour and got in for the Abuelo (old folks) price, then waited another 30 minutes for a car to go up. The trip up is about 25 minutes at a pretty good speed. The elevation rise is 15% grade for 3K to 11,700 feet. What a view of the city on the way up. It fills the entire valley (about 20 K long and 1.5 wide) and 50% of the hillsides.
Pichincha Peak is 139.89 feet and the trail to the top takes 3 hours of relatively steep and cagey hiking.
Even with our early start it was now after 1300 and the temperatures had dropped dramatically from those on the bottom. In addition the wind had picked up to about 15-20 KPH. We both put on our fleece and began to hike...above the clouds most of the time.
To say the views were incredible is such a mute comment compared to the reality. We both said, almost at the same time "damn, we are hiking in the Andes in South America". We believe it was the first time that thought took root in both of us. And it stayed there. After being acclimated to 9000 feet, 11,700 is breathtaking in more ways than one. We have trained ourselves to breath and walk in a realistic rhythm and it kept us going pretty well with lots of short stops to catch an extra breath.
By the time we got to around 12,100 Katy began to get both a headache and an earache from the ever growing cold wind. She decided to quit and go back down while Mike decided to go at least halfway....well maybe.
Reaching 12,619 feet, mid trail to the top, he quit while he was
ahead. Breathing had become easier but the wind had increased a lot and....at 72 years of age maybe a bit of caution has finally set in. Not going further was a tough decision but the right one.
The views, all the way up were astounding. As the clouds moved through the Andes, we were able to count 5 separate volcanos over 15,000 feet. The terrain is ruggedly beautiful, the meadows of short white flowers exquisite.
We will let the photos attached here tell the rest. Sorry, can't load the video here or facebook. It wasn't that good anyway. Remember to click on the photos for a close up view.
We will be out of touch for the better part of this week while in La Amazona. No internet there...actually that feels kinda nice....or tranquilla.
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