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The Ecuador Chronicles - 2011-01
Cotopaxi National Park - The Adventure Continues;
                                                 A Snowball Fight on the Equator;
                                                                              The Icy Ride Back Down 
by Ray Almand

First - Sleet and a Snowball fight

We started the Cotopaxi day trip with a Chronicle two weeks ago - "Snowball Fight on the Equator".  If you did not read that Chronicle you may want to review the the link below before you start this Chronicle: 

When we ended the Chronicle two weeks ago we had made our way back down Cotopaxi during a sleet storm and we had just arrived at the sleet covered parking area to begin our drive down.  I was glad to see the car - the sleet was really starting to hurt.  We were parked over to one side of the dirt (now sleet) parking area and there were seven or eight buses randomly parked.  I wondered about the school kids who had run up the mountain ahead of us.  I figure they made it to El Refugio before the storm really hit - they could wait it out there.  At least we were in the protection now of Juan's SUV.


The Icy Drive Back down

The trick now was to get back down the mountain.  We were, of course, stuck - as soon a Juan tried to move forward the front wheel drive tires would only spin.  We were trying to drive up only a slight incline.  So, Juan decided to reverse a bit and take a different approach - which made me nervous because there were some pretty steep drop offs and we could not see very well.  I did not want to go sliding off the edge of Cotopaxi.

Finally Piedad and I got out of the car to direct Juan around the buses and to the road.  Andy then moved to the back seat with me so that Piedad, who was familiar with the switch back road, could work with Juan to get us down.  And if you can imagine Andy and I (two Southern boys without much winter weather driving experience) trying to urgently explain to Juan to quit hitting the brakes sliding us to the edge of the switch backs and keep the car in first gear so the transmission would slow us down.  Juan got this concept pretty quick, but it was exciting there for a while - and not in a good way.  Do doubt this all sounds pretty silly to people used to winter driving.


Under the Expert Direction of Piedad We Found the Road Back Down 

Through the Windscreen 

Equatorial South America


Andy, Who I have Known for 55 Years, Looking a Bit Concerned.  He was Muttering Something under His Breath about "....After All these Years I Should Know Better - Ray is Always Getting Me into Some Kind of Situation, and Here I am Again....."  I'm not Really Sure what He Meant by that.


These People had Backed off the Road after Trying to Make it Up -
We Advised Them to Forget it and Head Back Down


More People Trying to Make it Up Cotopaxi - It's Hard Enough Coming Down; Don't Even Think about Going Up


Finally Out of the Ice




Cotopaxi Flora


The Andean Explorers Safe and Sound in Front of Laguna Limpiopungo -
Thanks to Piedad and Juan


A lot More of Cotopaxi is Now White after a Sleet Storm - Looks Like it is Still Coming Down at the Top


I tried to pay attention to the Ecuador news that night and the next day - I saw was nothing about any group trapped on Cotopaxi.  I assume the kids hunkered down in El Refugio until the storm was over and then made it safely down.


Would You Like Come to Ecuador and Practice Winter Weather Driving -
Find Out How at: