Now that we've had time to catch our breath a bit, Rie has written some reflections on one of the wonderful hikes we took in Vilcabamba last week.
Setting out into a light rain one morning in Vilcabamba, Kath and I were well prepared for our hike. We had a map and directions from the hosteleria, plenty of water and lunch. Off to a good start, we followed a well-defined trail along a creek. All too soon however, things got fuzzy. We couldn't find any blazes, and then we couldn't even find the trail. Were we on a trail, a cowpath, or neither? With no way to be sure, we traipsed back and forth across the creek several times, climbed up and down the bank, all to no avail. Finally we headed up a steep hill into a llama/cow pasture hoping for a view of the road or path. No luck. So, on we trekked, through pastures, over fences, through fences, up and down. We fondly reminisced about our parents - - Mom, with whom we walked through many a cow pasture during visits to the family farm, and Dad who led the way on many adventurous hikes when we were kids. We also ran through our Spanish vocabulary. Did we have the words to say, “sorry, we are lost”, or, “can you show us the way to the road?”.
The good news is that, at last, we found the road and headed off in the right direction. Following an old dirt road, we passed small farms and homesteads, a woman milking a cow, some young children playing. We paused for lunch at a school named in honor of a local farmer who had never been to school himself.
By this time the rain had let up and the skies were clearing. On up the road we continued. The views were increasingly impressive the more we climbed, but the real treat was yet to come. Crossing a paved road, our directions read “climb a small ledge to reach the trail”. Well, to us the ledge was not so small. So, we scouted around and found an alternate way to the path, and then on up to the ridgeline.
We hiked through grassy fields with scattered agaves, small shrubs and trees. Soon we reached a wonderful old stone wall full of treasures - - agaves large and small, cactus, several species of ferns and lichen, wildflowers and a perfect lime-green begonia with a red edge and red flowers. Gorgeous!
Up and up we climbed along the ridgeline and were rewarded with a most spectacular vista. Kath and I plopped ourselves down in the middle of the trail to try and absorb the view. Words cannot possibly do it justice. We were looking out over miles and miles of steep peaks and deep valleys, all lush and green with sunlight and shadows playing over all. There was no-one else to be seen, just some swallows and butterflies and some very sure-footed cows.
After some time we reluctantly gathered ourselves and headed back down the ridgeline, past the agaves, past the old stone wall, past the grazing cows to the road and on down to the hosteleria for a well-earned dinner of vegetable soup and homemade bread.