Matarredonda Ecological Park

Just a 45 minute drive from our place -- up a windy road along the Eastern Hills -- is the Matarredonda Ecological Park.  At ~11,200 feet above sea level, the park contains two unique eco systems: Andean cloud forest and Páramo (part of the Cruz Verde Páramo).   We hiked along one of the main trails in the park, a relatively flat trail called camino real allegedly set by the Muiscas and later by the Spanish Conquistadors that connected the Eastern Hills and Bogota.  We hiked along this trail and stopped briefly for lunch while enjoying the beautiful views of the páramo with the clouds rolling up the mountains.  Living in the city has unfortunately made Annika slightly uncomfortable with the experiences of hiking.  The trail was filled with rocks, flowing water, mud, and sponge like grass but she managed to enjoy it for the most part till about 45 minutes into the hike her foot sank so deep in the mud that it got inside her boots and her pants.  With Annika partly wet and the temperature dropping to the upper 40s, we decided to head back.  We still managed to hike for a couple of hours or roughly 2 miles though.  We hope to get Annika back out there soon.

To view the entire album click here

Mud!
Heading back after a little spill
Back in good spirits
Puchi's perspective
Mud!
Nigh Nigh!

Chingaza National Park

Our first road trip in Colombia was to the Chingaza National Park roughly one hour east of Bogota.  Even though reservations to enter the park are required, we managed to get access to Laguna Seca.

This was Annika's first time hiking and probably hiked about 1/2 a mile of a 1 mile hike on her own.

To view the entire album, click here.

Trip to Reserva Yanacocha (FAIL!)

Julia and I decided to drive to Reserva Yanacocha, a reserve near the Volcán Pichincha just to the west of Quito and home to a wide variety of humming birds. The trail was near Quito and although the trails were at high altitude, they were relatively flat -- perfect for my pregnant wife and her out of shape husband. It took us only an hour to get there thanks to the directions we found on a great blog. While driving up the mountains west of Quito to the reserve, we noticed clouds hanging around the peaks. We turned onto the roughly 10km dirt road that leads to the reserve, at an elevation of ~10,000 feet, and soon we were in the clouds. Duh! So this is what a cloud forest looks like! When we reached the reserve rain was coming down at a pretty good clip and the temp was near 48F. Today was not a good day for a hike after all. We regrettably decided to drive back down to Quito and try again some other time when the weather cooperates.

The good thing is that we know the route and even though we were technically less then 10 miles away from Quito, it felt as if we were hundreds of miles away. Stay tuned to our next attempt at this reserve!

Rain soaked road to Reserva Yanacocha
Rain soaked road to Reserva Yanacocha
Rain begins to break driving back down to Quito.

McKinney Falls Hike

With all the goodies we have been eating lately, we were in need of some exercise. A beautiful day for a hike along McKinney Falls where we got to enjoy some fall colors. A video of Vince sketching the landscape.

http://svelazquez.smugmug.com/XMAS2013/Austin/McKinneyFalls/i-VBTngBg/A

Below are some pictures. To view the entire album click here.

B&B Weekend in Asheville, NC

Julia and I spent a fabulous 4 days in Asheville, NC for Stephan and Eileen's wedding. We were grateful to have shared in this cool couple's exchange of vows.  We wish them all the happiness in the years to come. We also took the opportunity to enjoy a seasonal escape to the Blue Ridge in the fall.   We stayed at the Carolina, a great B&B in Asheville.  Hosts James and Susan prepared magnificent meals and provided expert advice.  We shopped, we hiked, and we took pictures.  And pictures.  And pictures.

Enjoy!

To view the entire album please click here.