Alex has been trying to get me to hike with him for awhile now. He’s been really excited about it but let’s face it, the idea of walking up and down mountains for fun is just not something that gets me quite as wound up as him. But, I’ve said no quite a few times now so this past weekend I agreed to a trip to Parque Nacional Cajas. We were in Cuenca for the long weekend and according to pretty much everything we’ve read Cajas is supposed to be one of the most beautiful parks in all of Ecuador.
We took an early morning bus about an hour outside of Cuenca and got dropped off at the ranger station. The ranger gave us a map and reiterated more times than I could count to keep the big mountain in sight. Apparently gringos are known for getting lost with all the scenery being a bit the same.
We headed out on trail 3, a six hour jaunt through a maze of small lakes, across ridges, and around the big mountain. It was beautiful! We saw only one other group of hikers the entire time, managed not to get lost, and mostly just enjoyed the solitude and beauty. And, at almost 4000 meters, my lungs enjoyed that the trail only had a few minor ups and downs.
With one hour left of our hike, it began to rain and by the end we were all pretty much soaked and freezing. We huddled up in the toll booth on the highway to wait for a bus home and I have to admit I felt pretty accomplished for having gone hiking with Alex.
Cajas has trees that only grow above a certain altitude. We have no idea if this is one of them, but it was a pretty cool looking tree…