My clothing was soaking wet but I wasn’t on that cold and rainy day. I had donned rain pants and jacket prior to entering the high grass mid-afternoon. It had been raining lightly when I left my truck, striking out for one of my favorite front range locations, right outside Parque Nacional Cajas.
I call it the front range because to me, some sections are reminiscent of the Rockies front range near Fort Collins, Colorado, a place where I once hiked. Fort Collins is a good bit north of my favorite area to explore in the U.S., the high desert of the south-west.
Steep edges abound here adjacent to the Cajas as the areas I prefer in Ecuador lie along the backbone of the Continental Divide. Some have interesting rock formations defining there precipitous drops. These locations offer stupendous viewpoints overlooking cloud banks as far as Naranjal. It’s here the first big downward plunges occur as the Andes reach out for the coastal lowlands to the west. These are the kind of spots I enjoy hiking and shooting in the most.
It was in a place like this I found myself that afternoon about a week ago. But, the rain and clouds aren’t my choice for making interesting photographs. Fingers crossed, I had pressed on as usual. However, this time, it began to seem that I would be rewarded for my perseverance. That doesn’t happen very often as these Ecuadorian atmospherics are finicky at best. I considered the end of the day event that was beginning to unfold before me as I equally considered the consequences of returning El Fantasma late to his berth at the parquedero back in the city…at least 3 1/2 hours hiking and driving time away.
Well, the scene won out. The rain stopped and within a half hour, a stiff eastern breeze was hard at work driving out the remainder of lingering clouds. An orange or perhaps more of a deeper peach colored crack opened on the western horizon. I could see that the sun had already dipped into the Pacific about sixty miles out. Through the black crags of basalt along the front range, you can see the cloud lined valley floor sweeping toward the coast.
You’d think I’d be pleased after such a beautiful twilight and hike in the mountains with a couple of captures I liked resting easily in the gigabytes of my memory card. And I was quite relaxed and happy indeed until the harsh realities of returning late to the parquedero began to sink in. You see, I’d been in trouble before with the matron of the place. She doesn’t cater to late comers.
With bribery in mind, I hit a flower stand for a two-buck bouquet and grabbed a huge Kinder Bueno from a tienda. Better kisses than curses were my thoughts as I pressed the bell of the locked-down parqudero in El Centro Cuenca summoning a sleepy Ecuadorian woman to “open up” and allow me to berth El Fantasma for the night. I almost laughed out loud as the speed that her expression changed from one of anger to a cooing dove in a nano-second. I chuckled again to myself about the incident as I walked the last block and a half to my warm apartment and a hot cup of chocolate.
¡Mi vida es un grande aventura!