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    Posted April 17, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The world's best national parks

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    Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador

    I went to Ecuador on a Geography Field Experience trip for university, and one of the coolest things we did was go to Cotopaxi National Park.

    Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, so it's quite exhilarating to visit (and hike). The plains and valleys at its base give the feeling that you're either in some ancient, pre-historic world, or that you've entered a battlefield in some epic movie.

    Our group did the very basic hike from the car park to the José F. Ribas Refuge located at an elevation of 4800 meters (about 16,000 ft). This was one of the shortest and most memorable hikes I've ever done because it required us to take "Everest steps"--a very slow-paced way to move up the mountain with little oxygen, you have to take about 2 or 3 seconds per step. A 200 meter elevation change takes at least 45 minutes at this elevation! But when you reach the mountain hut, the view--and the sense of accomplishment--is nothing short of exhilarating.
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