Today, you hear more about Colombia’s páramos. The altitude and exposure to extreme swings in temperature and weather make páramos something like enormous islands, floating among seas of tropical jungles. Survival under extreme conditions have resulted in a population of plants finely tuned to shielding high levels of UV rays, trapping and managing water, resisting wind and freezing temperatures.
I can still remember leaving the trail. It was a worn, dusty path that we had followed from a small lake tucked back in the evergreen forest of the Southern Andes. Ahead of me, an austere landscape of volcanic upheaval, a sea of basalt stacked against a steep shoulder of Volcano Casablanca. The skies were as clear as my 26-year-old mind, and although we couldn’t see the top of the volcano, its geographic position was predictable if not downright obvious. If this is the volcano, all paths lead to the crater, or so went the logic in my head.