Sorry to leave you with such a killer cliff hanger last time (ha-ha), but this story is worth the anticipation…
Brayton and I had a free 5-6 days after the postsession finished, so we had to explore this awesome country! We met a kid named Conor, who is a friend of a friend from Willamette, and happens to love climbing and exploring just as much as we do. Sweet! He had the crazy idea to climb some random 12,000 foot mountain in the jungle called Sumaco (the Beautiful One). Sounded good to us! Perfect way to end the postsession and begin the semester abroad!
Oh yeah, first we climbed (with the postsession group), the local ~15,700 ‘hill’, Guagua (pronounced ‘wawa’) Pichincha. We had ambitions to rock climb some routes up top, but we were exhausted and it was rather cold. At least we got out of smoggy Quito into the beautiful hills! Here are some pictures- check out the view of Cotopaxi we got!
Anyway back to Sumaco- we would be trekking up a jungle volcano for three or four days, sleeping in refuges (there were 3 of them), and all in all enjoying ourselves! We took a bus to the right town, but didn’t realize the road diverged…we got a little lost and had to backtrack and sleep in Tena- which is a pretty cool jungle city if I say so myself. The next day, we got an early start, and began the trek! We found a guide, named Franklin, and he led us through the thick murky muddy wet and beautiful jungle to the refuge. We got to the refuge early, so we had time to explore (machetes came in handy!), and eat a fantastic dinner of chili, beef chunks, and yucca and carrots (I only remember this dinner because it was SO GOOD!). The next day, waking up to wet clothes and wetter socks, we decided to hightail it to the third refuge. This involved vertical mud, puddles which almost filled our rubber boots, and slipping as the unseen roots in the mud twisted the support-lacking rubber boots. The second refuge overlooks a beautiful lake, which was a fantastic place to take a quick lunch break. However, due to the cold (in the jungle?!) and the rain (the ever present rain), we didn’t stay for long, and continued up a ridge and down a steep hill to the last refuge, at the base of the summit cone itself! This night was a bit ridiculous; we thought brown rice would give us good carbs, but because its brown rice, and our fire never really got started, it took at least 2 hours to cook. We ended up eating crunchy rice, to say the least! The next day we woke up at the crack of dawn, and began the steep ascent to the summit (which seemed to never end). Once FINALLY at the summit, we could see the lake in the crater, but only barely because of all the mist and clouds. Imagine that, 12,000 feet on a volcano summit in the jungle?! I’ll take it! We wanted desperately not to suffer (did I say suffer? I meant…enjoy) another night in a jungle refuge, so we booked it out of the jungle, and into the town at the base of the volcano (Pacto Sumaco), where we enjoyed real beds (!!) and one of the better nights of sleep I’ve ever had. Upon waking up in the morning, we all realized that it was one of the coolest adventures we had ever done- even though the rubber boots turned all of our feet into hamburger, and parts of the trek were complete misery. The pictures are where we got dropped off on the road as the sun started to shine in the jungle, a clearing with tall trees, the view from halfway up the summit cone before it was foggy, and the lake at the second refuge.
Hope you enjoyed, until next time!