Skip to main content

Taita Donuts!

Friends,

Tuesday, I took the opportunity to go on a hike I’d been longing to enjoy with my daughter. It had been over a decade since I ventured up the seldom trekked eight mile, 2,500 ft. vertical gain route to 13,000 foot high lake Taita Chugo. The route starts innocently enough with a scenic drive down a stone-paved backcountry road which ends at lake Llaviuco. Walk through the natural vegetation tunnel, past the lake and you’re officially on the trail. The first couple of miles are a stroll up a gently sloping narrow river valley, framed by two rugged mountains. At 11,000 feet, the crisp early morning air and overnight dew soon prove the running shoes and jeans a poor choice of attire. By the time we reach the cliff-framed waterfall that marks the transition to the intermediate stage, we’re drenched from the waist down. Fortunately, the activity keeps us warm, so we venture into the cloud forest, up a thin black mud path that might pass for a game trail. If fairies and elves exist, they surely dwell amongst the thick moss, ferns, bromeliads and orchids growing on every tree and stump of that secluded wood. Sure it’s slippery and our pants are thick with mud by the time we reach the tree line, but the light beaming through the trees and the stream providing a steady backbeat to accompany the occasionally visible singing birds inspire us to move on to the advanced stage. Unlike Colorado fourteeners, at the equator, there is still vegetation at this elevation. Straw, agave-like plants and tiny mountain flowers cover any dirt that does not boast exposed boulders. As fate (and a wrong turn) would have it, the next stretch was close to a vertical climb, grasping on to cracks and any available foliage for leverage. Here breath was becoming a scarce commodity. We struggle over a mountain and rejoin the trail, nested deep in a 3 foot wide canyon, climb over the last hill and, release! The massive kidney-shaped lake poses for us, its sole visitors –it’s past noon and there is not a soul for miles. We gaze for a few minutes and backtrack our steps, making our way to the slightly less craggy “official” trail (no downhill rock climbing for us that day!). Now the trek back! Down. 60° slopes. 30° slopes. Sight downhill. Car. Then Cuenca, Guayaquil, Panama, San Francisco, Denver. It’s good to be back! Joyous and glorious as my visit home was, I missed the office. I missed the hallway conversations. I missed you! And of course, I missed the donuts. While this morning’s donuts don’t have syringes in them (refer photo 13 of an odd Ecuadorian donut shoppe), they should still taste great. Enjoy them while you look at a few pictures from my hike!
Happy Friday!
1. Stone-paved road leading to trailhead

2. Trailhead at lake Llaviuco

3. Gentle stroll upriver 

4. Cloud forest

5. Moss-covered branch (o, yeah, and my daughter) 

  6. Even the "stairs" have ferns!

7. Above the tree line

8. Looking back to the valley from which we came up.

9. Our first glimpse of the goal. 13K ft. high lake Taita Chugo!

10. The trek

11. A final look before going back!
12. The muddied hiker survived!


13. Get your donut fix - straight to the vein!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Happy New Year!

  Friends, Happy new year (and, technically, still Friday). As many of you know, my household has a peculiar way of ringing-in the new year. We build effigies representing the old year and burn them at midnight. This year, although we made the tough call of canceling the accompanying annual party, I felt it was important to go ahead with the burning. The theme, of course, was CoVid. My kids and I developed a dozen mutations of the virus and staged them in our backyard. Then, at a quarter ‘till midnight, we proceeded to read the old year’s last will and testament (or, as might be expected for a year like this, an un-will and un-testament). Shortly thereafter they were summarily burned. We then proceeded to stay up way past my bedtime (which in part helps explain the unusual tardiness of my weekly note). In any event a couple of donuts and a day of rest have got me back to my old self. By the way, I’ve posted a public video of the Facebook live stream event on Facebook. Key markers on

THE Oasis

Friends, The book  Ready Player One  sent me down memory lane this week. The journey was not triggered by the author’s excessive references to the 1980s, which border on obsessive. Rather, it was the name of the massive virtual reality simulation used by characters in this dystopian future to escape their grim surroundings: The OASIS. You see, that was also the name of my grandfather’s country estate, the setting where a disproportionate share of my treasured childhood memories were created.  La Quinta Oasis was a bucolic old whitewashed house with a massive stone staircase, three foot thick adobe walls and wooden window shutters that, when closed at night, would submerge the residence in pitch darkness. With no running water, electricity, phone or indoor plumbing, the only modern convenience was the battery transistor radio on which my uncles would listen to “Chucho el Roto”, a radio soap opera. The Spanish fighting roosters crowed long before sunrise, making it difficult to fall back

Accidental Culinary Innovations

Friends, Have you ever inadvertently fermented spaghetti sauce? Yeah, me neither… until yesterday, that is! Imagine my surprise when the half-full bottle, sitting in the fridge from time immemorial, made a sound akin to opening a beer bottle, instantly filling the glass container with a hazy smoke. As the carbonation dissipated, I grabbed a spoon to conduct the obligatory taste test. How was it? I’m glad you asked! Let’s just say chunky carbonated tomato beer is not my thing (although I must admit that if I had been expecting it, my reaction might have been a little more… composed). Now, if you forgo the fermentation and switch the tomato paste with spicy salsa… that might be the next million dollar idea! Sparkling sriracha anyone? How about Carbonated Cholula?   Bubbly Habanero? Fizzy Jalapeño?? I could go on, but I have a feeling Gassy Guac might not fly off the shelves. Now, if only I could stumble on a way to improve donuts. Carbonated Jelly filling… yeah, maybe not. I think I’ll