Today I decided to hike up Rucu Pichincha yo solita. It’s a volcano that is just to the west of Quito’s city limits that measures 4,698 meters or 15,696 feet tall. Being Sunday, the mountain was as crowded as ever so I wasn’t too worried about getting lost going to the top. At the base of the volcano you take the teleférico or a kind of ski lift to about 4,050 meters. From there you hike to whatever part of the summit you’d like. My brother recommended I take the sendero, or the path that is to the left, and this particular trail is an ascent that is more even and not so up-and-down like the one to the right.
On this trail I took a wrong turn from the beginning and so did three guys that were just ahead of me. They turned back and I asked them if I was on the right trail and they said we had to shift over to the right a bit to get back on the route to Rucu again unless I wanted to do one of the other peaks that are also on this range (Cerro Ladrillo, Guagua Pichincha, and Padre Encantado). I said I was going up to Rucu and they helped me over the ditch and we started walking together for a ways. It turns out one of the men is a guide, Oswaldo, who works at one of the reservas close by (I can’t remember which one). He is from Cayambe, a town just northeast of Quito and right next to a volcano by the same name. As we were walking Oswaldo related that he was hiking with a father and his son. He said the father gave his son, for his quince (or his fifteenth birthday) the gift of climbing the fifteen peaks in Ecuador that are higher than 4,500 meters.
-¡Qué hermoso regalo!
I commented what a beautiful gift that was and we continued chatting.
En Argentina donde yo crecí, para tus quince te dan una moto o te hacen una fiesta grandísima (dependiendo de los recursos de tus padres, claro). Where I grew up in Argentina, for your fifteenth birthday, or quinceañera, you are gifted a motorcycle (to scoot around town with) or a big party (the grandness of the party always depends on the financial situation of your parents).
-Sí, -me comentó Oswaldo-. Este regalo de las cumbres es poco usual.
I nodded my head in agreement that this gift of hiking fifteen mountain peaks was a very unusual one.
-Yo hubiese elegido la moto para poder subir todas las cuestas del Ecuador, -me sonrió Oswaldo.
And I laughed at his comment about picking the motorcycle option to climb up all the mountains in Ecuador.
And we continued walking side by side as the father and his son made more and more distance between us.
-¿Cómo está el paso? -preguntó Oswaldo
“The pace is fine for now, but I’ll be wanting to rest here in a few minutes,” I commented. “It is, in fact, the second highest peak I’ve every climbed in my life,” I added in order to make up some kind of excuse for my incredibly slow yet steady pace. “The first being just a few days ago–to the refuge of Cotopaxi,” I said.
And as we walked I thought about the present his father had given his son and the experiences they were building as they climbed each peak, solo le quedaban tres and this was probably the least technical and easiest one they would do (in fact they had already done it as their first peak as well as the other three Pichinchas a little over a year ago as their first challenge). The three they have yet to climb, if I remember correctly, are the Volcán Antisana, Volcán Tungurahua, and El Altar.
When I got home after climbing to the top, I had a headache and just wanted to lay down, take it easy, and drink té de coca so I didn’t write anything. But this morning, I googled this birthday adventure gift, the guide, the father, and the fifteen-year-old whose name is David and found his blog although he hasn’t updated it in a while. If you speak Spanish check out this amazing proyecto de vida.