Micah: Unmitigated


Not just another weblog


June 14th, 2010 at 18:35

I don’t know how I would have survived this past week without my titanium rain jacket, made by Colombia Sportswear, product # 205 SM7478. It is the wet season, so please don’t feel sorry for me, no matter what I say in the next few paragraphs.

It began in San Agustin, a little sprinkle the first night while I curled up in my hammock. Then steadily increasing throughout the morning, before the downpour during my walk to the market. Turning Monday into a good day for a blog post. It continued throughout my stay, but the show must go on.

I saw most of the main sites, including the signature Archeological Park, despite my moto-taxi breaking halfway there. A well preserved area, with many rock carvings guarding tombs and a nice round path they’ve lined with 35 interesting figures. I also attempted a hike to sites normally seen on horseback, resulting in a wet muddy affair. Not really worth the effort, but I do love getting dirty.

Parque Arqueológico de San Agustín

Parque Arqueológico de San Agustín

The highlight of my stay in San Agustin was hanging out at the hostel. No ping pong was played, but I met some more cool people. Two more British girls as roommates, a guy from NoCal, a girl from Germany, and a talkative Aussie gal. With the kitchen connected to my room, I got to witness money saving ways to feed yourself, with the cheapest being, hangout and eat their leftovers. Although, I still think the best value was the $1 – $1.50 full meals I was getting from the market every morning. If only every town had a daily mercado where I could sit at a counter with the locals.

I completed my circular tour of central scenic places, with a 5 hour bumpy bus ride back to Popayan. Three nights were spent there, a slight altering of my original plans. The Aussie guy I met in the desert, showed me pictures of a hike he did around these parts. I had thought the trip was too difficult and expense, thus passed on it my first go around, but he painted a different picture. Stunning scenery, a way around the park entrance fee, and my male ego, all sealed the deal.

Friday: I set my alarm for 3:45 am to catch the bus out of town, got on the right bus, was dropped off at the turnoff around 6 am, and began to put one foot in front of the other. Destination: The rim of Volcan de Purace (a volcano that last erupted in 1949). With the early start, I was able to cruise past the dreary eyed visitors center without paying the $10 fee.

The trail traveresed along cow pastures, muddy forest, gravel road, rocks, and then volcanic ash. Wind and mist were a constant throughout the 4 hr ascent, with boulders providing the only shelter.

rest stop

rest stop

I thought about turning back many times. The altitude (summit = 15,600 ft) was dizzying, shoes were wet before I started, and I was tired from little food/sleep. Keeping me going, a group of 5 Colombians that caught up and eventually passed me, plus my trusty rain coat. With hood up and head down, I tried to not let my mind think that each false summit was real and plugged away, never actually seeing my finish line until the end. The conditions up at the rim were nasty, forcing rapid fire photography followed by hands inside coat. With the Colombians motioning me into their group photo, I reveled in the feeling of pushing myself beyond pain and raised a thumb.

at the top

at the top



I always love the descent, the speed and the recap of what I have accomplished. At this point, I made my second great decision in the past 24 hrs (first was the night before, finding fresh street potato chips to go with my 2 street hamburgers). I was confident enough in the reply I got from a climber and my directional instincts, to take an alternate way down. Following the gravel road we briefly used in the middle, for as long as it was white. I have a theory that all roads connect to another road at some point in time, and needed to test it. The result: a smooth mud-less path, a stroll past the restricted sulfer mine, no sneaking past the visitor center, and a direct line to the main hwy. I was lucky to have a bus roll by within 30 minutes of my arrival, and sat on the hump near the driver, enjoying a victory lollypop. I really do love it when a plan comes together.

At this point, I could tell you about the entertaining weekend I had in Popayan, about the drunk local who tried his best to have a conversation with me, and about my first visit to a salsa club, but all that will have to wait. I need food and this post is getting long, check back in a day or 2. Ahora estoy en Pasto, Colombia y usted no está

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4 Responses to “Gore-Tex”

  1. Stanley Says:

    I don’t feel sorry for you. I wish I was there…

  2. Nick Says:

    Sounds like a great adventure. I have only one quibble with your blog post, however. It’s “ascent” and “descent.” I realize you went to Oregon State, but come on, dude. 🙂 Seriously, though, I don’t know if I could have climbed that high. Way to go!

  3. H2 Says:

    Excellent example of another quality Columbia product put to good use. The SM7478 from Fall 2005 is better known as the High Alpine Parka, with a name like that it makes sense that it would be useful at such altitudes.

    Glad to hear that your travels have been so exciting lately. I wish I could say the same for recent softball and kickball events … your skills are truely missed.

  4. H1 Says:

    Glad to hear you are meeting like-minded folks on your trip. As always, sounds like you are having an amazing time.