Baños Day 2: Ripping Around

Back in Baños we hit the adventure vendor strip. A girl comes out to greet us and we go in to see what they’ve got. Dirt bikes, quads, and these dune buggy jeep thingies. How much? 15 an hour. Alrighty three hours por favor. One quad for MacKay, and Drisdelle with me in a buggy. Mount my severely underused GoPro on the buggy frame while MacKay gets his helmet and gloves on. Duke jumps into the buggy and start it up. Braakaakaarooooom! Whoa this thing is loud. Car alarms start going off. The Ecuadorian national anthem. Sticky clutch, shitty brakes, hard to steer, loud as fuck, vamanos!

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Agent Getz is navigating passenger side with the cartoon map they gave us. We’re looking for a place called… can’t remember what it’s called. Map looks like the trail up towards the volcano starts there though. Get there. Shanty buildings, ripped up roads, hmmm. We loudly cruise through town, the wrong way down a one way street, and find a road up. Let’s do it. We venture up, cross a bridge, come to a restaurant. Nope. Flip a bitch. Back to the bridge. Go the other way. Come up to a waterfall. Nice. Pics. Car comes up behind us. Lars and Jolan are in it. How bout that? They’re going canyoning in the waterfall and valley. Cool! Have fun. Catch you later. Braakaakaarooooom!

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Back down into town. Try another way. Nope. Dirt pit. Power slides. Fish tails. Back to the road. Pass the same construction dudes fir the 3rd time. Alright where is this road up? Haven’t tried this way. Let’s go. Braaaahm braaaahm, damn this thing is loud. Up, up, up. Get to the top and an older gentleman is coming straight for us. We’re gonna get lectured aren’t we. Yep. The guy is a little ticked. I Spanocipher that this is a residential area, no motocross up here. Using my Kazakh military guard distraction technique, I grab the map and start pointing and asking for directions. He’s got the you stupid gringos look. In half English he explains that we need to go back, cross the bridge, and take a left up the mountain. Ok thanks. But this map is shit right? Yes. Ok thanks.

While Murphy and Drisdelle are raising the ire of the locals I’m figuring out the nuances of this wheeler. Kind of a piece of shit. It doesn’t idle for shit (altitude maybe?) and the brakes lock up super-easy so going downhill is a task, because clutch-in and normal pressure on the brakes means the wheels lock immediately then the rear wheels lock up again when the bitch stalls. Eventually I figure out the solution – clutch-in, rapid-tap the rear brakes and rapid-tap the throttle at the same time. Tricky while on a steep downhill turn trying to avoid rocks and oncoming traffic. On the plus side it’s a 2WD so fishtails and donuts come easy.

Back on track we find the right road and head up it. Amazing scenery along the road in Baños, we get higher and higher. A few more wrong turns but we don’t care much, off the pavement onto a dirt road and I’m balling the jack hard down narrow corridors, Mariokart power-sliding around corners, and making Agent Getz nervous. Felt good to drive again. Even if it’s just this falling apart piece of junk jeep buggy.

We let MacKay go ahead of us for the video to lend some perspective and to secretly hope he wipes out. Safely. Maybe. Down in some farmland he comes down hard in a puddle, up on his feet and slamming the quad down into it to splash as much muck as possible. Mud sprays out both sides brilliantly. Next patch and he’s fish tailing into a 270, yanking it back to correct, muck spitting out from the quads tires. A few minutes later he comes over to the buggy and we notice some shit on his McBourne vest. I think that puddle had more than just mud in it. He’s scrubbing down and gets us to wipe off his sun glasses. Vamos!

We get up a bit further and find a sign for the Volcano panorama. Hmmmmm here? Doesn’t look like it. No arrows. (This whole area was abysmally marked. And our map was crap). Whevs, Drisdelle and i hop out and walk through a nearby trail in the woods. Up an overgrown, muddy walk and we come to a barbed fence. “Holy fuck, boys!” calls MacKay half way through the path. Yep, it was steep, and we’re waaaaay up in the mountains now. We shimmy under the bent fence wire and walk along a ways on the side of the cliff. Decent view. Snap. Snap. Wrestler bend the ropes back through the fence and down to the rides.

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After some more getting lost, bombing down unknown roads, and 65 point u-turns on narrow cliff faces we found the Baños overlook that’s by the giant cross up above the waterfall. Gorgeous lookout. We take a minute to snap some pics and enjoy it.

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Time running out so we make our way back down. Great scenery coming down the mountain too. Miss the Baños turn off. Awesome. Flip it and back into town.

MacKay is parked up and taking his helmet off when we round the corner to the rental joint. The guy is outside pointing for us to park. Nope. I wanna get the church in the central park on the GoPro. I give him a thumbs up and brannmmp braaahhhhmp, cruise on by, take a loop around the block for the central Baños tour vid, and then get back and park out front.

Man, what a great day. Two killer adventures! What’s next? Back to the hostel to regroup with a beer, grub, then the night time volcano tour? Bueno.

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