Chapter 4: The Wolfpack Climbs an Active Volcano, and Says Goodbye

Just a few of Cotopaxi’s superlatives:

  • Most Photogenic Volcano From A Distance
  • Best Place to Eat Soup at a High Altitude
  • Third-Tallest Volcano in Ecuador
  • Source of the Most Accurate Indigenous Names
  • Possibly the Highest Active Volcano in the World (but I’m writing this in an internet-less state and won’t remember to Google the real fact)
  • Most Likely to Convince Kate Bailey That She, In Fact, LOVES Climbing Volcanoes
  • Brighid Carey’s Favorite Volcano

    Taken on a field trip in 2009…no idea where but HOW GOOD DOES THAT VOLCANO LOOK???

Another two-hour day trip from Quito brought us to the Cotopaxi National Park to the southeast. We hired a guide to drive us through the valley and up to the parking lot below the refuge. Hardcore hikers bring ice axes and other scary things to climb all the way to the summit. We were happy with the excruciating one-hour ascent to the Refugio at about 5,000 meters/16,000 feet. The refuge doesn’t look far away, but every ten steps calls for a break to gasp for oxygen, huddle against the wind and admire the views above and below. It was every bit as painful as the first time I hiked it and the hot chocolate and soup every bit as gratifying at the top.

That night we had to have RHCP food and margaritas again, if only because Bogotá is severely lacking in good Tex-Mex. Our last day in Ecuador I was able to meet up with a friend’s former host dad for coffee. I really loved talking to him and catching up, especially because he asked if I was still in contact with everyone and I could honestly answer YES, that we talk and have visited several times since our Quito days, and we’re still resolved to reunite for Fiestas de Quito. Someday. Some last-minute market purchases and DELICIOUS encebollado fish stew concluded a perfect week back in my beloved little Ecuador.