Despite the Teleférico itself being a lift that takes you to the top of a summit, the real trip starts after you take the first step on the hiking path. It’s all uphill from there.
Yesterday I spent about seven hours hiking up and largely falling down (in a most efficient manner, I might add) Cruz Loma, a ridiculously tall mountain in Quito. At the peak we climbed to it was about 15200 ft/4800 km, and we hiked about 6 miles/9km that day. In the process, I got a lot of blisters and a fierce sunburn, as well as about 2 beaches of sand in my hiking boots as I gracefully slid down the mountainside.
I had decided to go with my roommate to the mountain at 7:30am, after waking up from a weird nightmare. But as it turned out, I was only exchanging mental anguish for a physical one, though one with undoubtedly one of the best views in Ecuador. So no regrets, although I am really feeling the effects of the climb; my thighs and arms are killing me.
Anyway, to get to the high-powered elevator, we had to take the Trolley towards the north, getting off at El Ejido and from there catching a big blue bus towards Mitad del Mundo. That bus let us off right where a tiny free van brings people the two minute drive up the hill to the ticket office. It only costs $8.50 a head for the trip up and back down, and we were able to spend the entire day there; other options to get to the hiking area are to bike or run up a very long path to the top of the first hill. Think of it as a little warm-up, literally, because it gets really cold up there.
While climbing, over the course of several hours I met a bunch of great guys from all parts of the world, all of whom were absolute sweethearts. Sometimes it was hard for me to breathe and/or I had vertigo, because of the altitude, but everyone stopped with me whenever necessary.
So in the end, it was totally worth it to wear my body out all day. I made some great friends with whom I am going out dancing on Wednesday night, and I was able to challenge myself in a way I did not think was possible in Quito— I literally conquered a mountain!
Remember, take calculated risks & always bring sunscreen.