Monday, July 03, 2006

Good times, tense shoulders

We made it to the volcano yesterday, despite not wanting to wake up at the ass crack of dawn. But, based on my time living in Denver, I knew if we didn't make it up there by mid-morning we would risk running into some nasty storms. And, since the volcano does occasionally see some snow cover even in the summer, I didn't want to risk it.

We were up and at 'em and on the road by 8:00AM, and made it to the entrance of the park by 9. The ride up wasn't too bad, the road wasn't very well maintained, but I got to see a couple humming birds - huge hummingbirds - like the size of sparrows - but we didn't get any pics. There was lots of nice scenery and plenty of other things to keep me occupied. Lots of pretty pretty flowers, like this one:
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We decided to not hike in the lower regions of el volcán, but rather opted to head right to the top to see the Lagos del Sol y Luna. Once I took a look at the road though, I started having second thoughts.

I've driven up many a mountain in my day, both on paved and unpaved roads. I've conquered Mount Evans & Pike's Peak repeated times (both over 14,000 ft), along with Trail Ridge and Fall River roads which head up the ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park, and through Red Mountain Pass (both about 12,000 ft). So really, despite being a nervous and paranoid person, cliff faces don't bother me, heights don't bother me, i figured it wasn't going to be a big deal when people at work told me the road was dangerous. It was a bit higher than any mountain I have been on (this summit was 14,700, as opposed to Mt. Evans which is the highest I have been at 14,264 ft...and even surpasses Colorado's Highest Fourteener - Mt. Elbert - 14,443)

I should have listened. Considering the repair of many of the roads in the city, when a Mexican tells you a road is dangerous, you better damn well belive the road is dangerous. It was really only bad for the last 3 miles......but those last three miles is what has my neck and arms all sore today - i was so flippin tense that last hour! The trail was so narrow, it barely wide enough to fit our car through. The roads were not only dirt and rock, but soo poorly maintained that every time we hit a rock or bump i was afraid we'd lose control and go careening off the side, even though we were going less than 5 mph. And of course, throw in the steep unguarded edges, hairpin turns, and the fact that this road supported two way traffic you can bet this paranoid girl was doing everything she could to NOT have a panic attack. Deep breathing doesn't work so well at 13,000 feet though....FYI. Not quite enough oxygen. Here's a couple pics, but it really doesn't do it justice...
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When we reached the summit it was kind of anti-climactic, we haven't had a lot of rain, so the lakes were much smaller....maybe it was just because i was too wound up.....although it was kind of cool to be hanging out inside the crater of a volcano. At any rate, we managed to get out and hike for about an hour and took a few cool photos. it was a good work out, and it must ahve gotten my blood flowing well because i was much more relaxed on the way down, even though we had to park ourselves halfway up the side of the road in order to let people pass. i vaguely remember the rule of the road in Colorado to be that the person going down has the right of way, but I didn't bank on any person knowing that here (especially because people were having TAXI's take them up). So, anytime i spotted a car ahead the second we located a semi decent spot to park we did and waited for the other people to pass.

Pics at the summit......
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All in all, a good experience, but not one that I think I'll be repeating. Oh, I'm sure we'll head back and maybe hit a couple trails in the National Park, but if anyone is planning on visiting, you can cross heading to the Summit of the Nevado de Toluca off your list, because it AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!!!

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