Cajas Follow The Mark

Getting up was really hard, but I spin-dried again my shoe insoles and with clenched teeth got into soggy shoes. The trail back was worse than when we walked it two days ago, but we have successfully come to a crossroads where we started to go after the yellow mark. We followed the purple mark, which was supposed to take about 8 hours. That meant one more camping.

The walk has been like a fairy tale with bridges over creeks… Wow. At about three o’clock we arrived at a real campsite and after two intensive days, we were able to set a bonfire, which almost allowed us to dry our shoes and we were looking forward to a long-awaited hot shower in Cuenca, where we though we would be next day at about noon. The path on the map looked really good and we should walk it in about four hours.

In the morning we got up into the rain again. We packed a wet tent and set off. Once we did, it started to rain more and more.

Again, we walked around the lake and in weather like this there again was fog. After a few meters, we again had a pond in our shoes and the ground was so sodden that there was no place without water or mud.

After a few kilometers we turned from the lake and a climb up a mountain awaited us. Until now I do not know if it was a trail with so much running water or if simply was a stream. Anyway, the whole climb took us about an hour and a half and it was clear that for sure we will not be back at noon.

It was like if Cajas did not want to let us from its clutches. All the time we repeated that it could not be worse. But it was, so one already had to laugh at it. When we climbed the mountain, there was such a strong wind that we were barely able to stand. Thus we quickly ran over the mountaintop and spotted a red house on the other side, in the distance, in the valley.

That was the exit from the park. We looked down and before us spread tundra, cloud forest, rainforest and savanna. This all we had to cross in maximum of four hours. We got to work. We literally slided down the tundra in the mud. The real fun began in the cloud forest, linear path where everything was sodden. Mud was everywhere and there was no way around it.

So we went, sometimes we bogged down to the knee, but mostly with every step we bogged down to the ankles. Because we did not avoid anything, we went very quickly. We ran though the rainforest, which was even worse, accompanied by various birds, parrots etc. We did not perceive the cold and humidity, we were somehow part of it. Maybe, I can even say that we enjoyed it all. Nature around was beautiful and we were motivated by time.

We went through a beautiful savanna, where the path was almost dry and we reached the little red house. Along the way we have met some lamas, which did not want to be photographed. The house was nothing, and therefore we continue down the road. We met first people who looked really chic and smelled of perfume. We had mud everywhere and just smelled. Well they didn’t look at us nicely.

We arrived on the main road at about half past four. We threw the bags into the breakdown lane and Veronika went to change her pants off the sight. At that moment, of course, a bus went by, and it blinked at us, blew the horn and wanted to pick us up. After an hour of waiting for the next bus, Veronika began hitchhiking and the first car stopped. A nice gentleman, who did not want us to pay anything, brought us back and we could finally enjoy the long wished hot shower.

Cajas is a real wilderness with all that comes with it. It can take you to places of your our mind, that are totally undiscovered. What drives you forward with the 15 and 20 kg backpack in 4000m, is particularly adrenalin and safety of your own self. Despite all the “experiences and the non-ideal weather” we enjoyed the wandering. And only thanks to top quality equipment. If we did not have a water sterilizer, perfect tent, socks, which transform cold in warmth, waterproof and windproof jacket that really endures everything, etc., we would not enjoy it, nor would we take all the pictures and videos. And the hot shower in the hostel after that …. we have not experienced a better feeling!