Strange title I know, but it'll make sense in a minute.
Forgive me for being all over the place with my blog, but I'm new to this, and throughout the day a million stories that I would like to blog about go through my head, and this is a good one, so I'll write about it before I forget.
It was back in my Ecuador days, before I was married, and one of my closest friends came to visit me with her good-looking brother. We did a lot of things that were amazing while they were there, like horseback riding through the Andes, and of course the market, but we also went on a hike that my friend would always refer to thereafter as the "hike from hell." We were all young and in good physical shape, but I was really the only one acclimated to the elevation. (I googled it and the hike around Cuicocha is at 3,064 m.)
Anyway, they were up for the adventure, and I had already done the hike around the volcanic lake with my roommate, so I knew it would take about 3 1/2 - 4 hours. We arrived early at the starting point, where a restaurant and visitor area stood, and the three of us set off on the rocky path. My friend was in the lead, and after getting to a spot with a clear view of the deep blue lake, she turned to me and said, "So a meteor came down and made that huge crater where the lake is?"
I looked at her and blinked a few times. I had referred to it as a volcanic crater previously, so I now slowly began to explain that this kind of crater was formed by an explosion of the mountain with lava, smoke, etc., as compared to the craters formed by space rock falling from the sky. I was really used to these kinds of questions from her; previously we had set up a system where she would run a question by me first in a whisper rather than just blurt it out, but it was just her brother and I at the time, so she was pretty safe.
Well after that explanation she took off again on the path at a speed walkers pace. I called after her that she might want to pace herself, but she brushed off the suggestion and left us far behind. For a mile or so, that is. By then her brother and I overtook her, and while she huffed and struggled along, we continued at an easy pace, occasionally waiting for her to catch up when we would lose sight of her behind the bend in the path. It really was a brutal hike, not for the faint of heart. Once you started, there were no shortcuts back, and the path was a continuous steep up and down at short intervals.
There was a pay-off though. The view was spectacular. High up on the mountainside, you could see the entire valley nestled in the Andes mountain range, and the countryside looked like a patch-work quilt where the local farmers had squared off cultivated land. Ecuador is wildly beautiful, and in the mountains with the sun beaming down, the climate is quite comfortable due to the elevation.
I wish I could post pictures, but those were the days of rolls of film rather than digital, and I don't have a scanner.
I honestly doubt I could do that hike now, but I'm so glad I did it then.