To Gallop On Top of the World

Sunday, February 16

I woke this morning with no plans. However, one thing has been lurking in mind since my last visit to Quito. Months ago I rode the TeleferiQo, a touristy tram, to the top of Quito’s neighboring dormant volcano, Rucu Pichincha, with my friends. We rode horses along a ridge trail, but due to time constraints and my friends’ preferences, we rode for only an hour. It was marvelous to gallop through the high, golden, grassy, foggy Páramo and peer down at the sprawling valley city a thousand meters below. Ever since that day, I had wanted to return and complete the entire two-hour loop. So, that’s what I did today!

On the way out the door of the hostel, I stopped to ask for directions from the travel agency. The other guy in the hall, and Argentine named Martin, overheard my question. “Are you going to TeleferiQo?” he asked me. “Me too!” So we adventured together, and we galloped almost to the top of Rucu Pichincha, right through the clouds.

Here we go!

My friend for the day, Martin, walking up the path while our horses took a break.

Chuciragua, the mountain-climber's flower of the Andes.

Oh, lovely Paramo!

Close-up cushion plant, the kind that can be 800 years old.

The one bird.

Into the cloud!

Go Martin! (I didn't make it up the last scramble to the top, but I think I conquered my fear of heights fairly well.)

The fog moved in as we got closer to the summit.

Dinamita, my horse, had a nursing foal who drank ravenously between outings.

TeleferiQo, from the top...

... and the bottom!