Home > Ecuador > A fantastic evening trek on Ecuador’s Central Andes

A fantastic evening trek on Ecuador’s Central Andes

February 04, 2011

It is one of those intensely luminous afternoons, not all that frequent, in the heart of Ecuador`s Central Andes. The incredibly clear and shining blue sky is totally void of clouds, while the sun rays deploy a kaleidoscopic show of light and color.  We are at the base of the immense and almost vertical wall of volcanic rock, now covered with snow and millenary, shining white glaciers, the remnants of what was the eastern rim of the sacred Carihuairazo Volcano, towering over 18.500 feet of elevation. Right by us is a small yet superbly beautiful glacial lake with emerald green and turquoise blue tones of calm waters, surrounded by high Andean vegetation.

Marco, our Expedition leader and a famous Ecuadorian mountain climber and geographer gives us a magisterial open-air class of Geology and History which we greatly enjoy.  Enrique and Jose Luis film and record Marco’s explanations while also registering in tape the fabulous scenery that serves as the backdrop for this moment. Our field assistants and porters quietly sit or stand around while we accomplish our mission. As the sunset hour begins, we start seeing a huge disc of pale yellow emerging like an enormous spaceship from the east, just over the summit of the ancient Carihuairazo Volcano: it is full moon time and the Earth’s natural satellite has decided to show up its grandeur, possibly realizing we are on a filming outing….

One of the mules which helps carry our heavy equipment accidentally trips over some rocks and falls into the edge of the emerald lake…. It takes a while to rescue the beast safely, just adding a touch of extra adventure to the phenomenal show of nature we are witnessing. While the moon is displaying its beauty on the eastern skies, the western horizon presents to us the highest mountain of Ecuador, the mythical Chimborazo Volcano, with its three summits, the highest one rising to over 21.000 feet of altitude. As the sun is simultaneously setting behind the colossus, a rainbow of red, orange and yellow colors paint the snow-covered summits of Chimborazo, making it look like three giant scoops of vanilla ice-cream covered with strawberry and orange sauce toppings… There we are, captivated between two giant Andean volcanoes, each one adorned by the Sun and the Moon, respectively, providing us with a memorable vision that prompts our thoughts to realize why the ancient cultures adored the two celestial bodies with the highest influx over the life and deeds of the Earth….

With such a fantastic mix of natural lights, we restart our trek, aiming to reach our campsite, at the north-eastern foothills of Mount Chimborazo, where we will spend the night. The pace is slow as we need to capture on film the awesome natural beauty we are being gifted with…  A female wild deer briskly crosses our path and rapidly disappears, evidently scared with our unexpected presence on her quaint and solitary realms. We walk over typical moorland vegetation and pampas grasses, with some occasional “frailejones”, unique high mountain flowers which dot the winding and rocky trail.  As darkness settles over dusk, the mind-boggling scenario we were marching through is replaced by a moonlit night and a “new” sky, this one painted black and dotted with millions of twinkling stars and constellations of all shapes, leading us, with the aid of Marco’s knowledge, to elaborate around the Mythology of the Pre-Columbian and Incan civilizations which inhabited this area thousands of years ago, who also saw on the Universe above, a series of characters and personalities, good and evil, pretty and ugly, unfolding the most amazing stories which had direct effects on the life of the Earth’s inhabitants…… As we continue our now nocturnal hike, fortunately illuminated by the moon, a flashing red and green light crosses the sky with a southern direction.  We begin to speculate about a possible UFO, before, laughing at ourselves, realize it is an airplane, flying very high and thus without audible noise for us even in the solitude and silence of the remote area we are traversing…  Two hours later, we can see in the distance our tented camp and realize that an unforgettable and unique afternoon, evening and night’s trek on the Ecuadorian Andes is coming to an end.  Instead of being tired, our spirits are high and filled with the joy of life which only nature at its best can provide…..  And the story will continue on the next issue…

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