Not All Who Wander

Gina’s elaborate checklist for Cuenca is slowly getting checked off as our weekend comes to a close, and Gina, Andrea, and I have saved Cajas National Park for last.  After we have filled ourselves delicious meals, see the cityscape from afar, and delight in Cuenca’s unique streets of  sweets, markets, and street art, we anxiously plan our hike through Cajas National Park.  Having done extensive research, Gina is already aware of the best trails to fit our physical fitness and need for photo opportunities.  We’re no longer a trio when our La Cigale roommate, Tim, from Kent, United Kingdom, is no longer a shadow in the room and a companion on our journey.  Backpacks and cameras ready, we arrive to fog and a chilling wind that howls in the Visitor’s Center.  Immediately I wish had thought to wear my purple Hello Kitty pajama pants under my jeans and bought an alpaca sweater Gina and Andrea were intent on finding in the market.  But it’s too late to change course now.  I must brave the cold and adopt J.R.R. Tolkien’s words of advice, “Courage is found in unlikely places.”

Cajas National ParkIronically, staying on course isn’t the case for the trail we venture on.  We quickly change to a different trail since we’re told the route we wanted to take is too cold to take today.  We head along the recommended trail, following painted arrows on rocks and other markers to lead us on our journey.  The fog surrounding the mountains appears to be thick, but as I make way through this unique landscape, I find there is more than I expected.  Woods thick with twisted tree branches, swamp marshes, and luscious green plants cover the hillsides we climb.  Weaving our way through the small forest of spindly branches, Tim compares it to The Lord of the Rings.  Making my way through the trees, I’m amused by his comparison as I begin to hear Howard Shore’s composition play in my mind.  Like Pippin I have my goofy moments reciting Finding Nemo that entertains my friends, like Merry I am motivated to play and collaborate with my colleagues, like Samwise I am fiercely loyal and protective, and like Frodo I sometimes find myself at seemingly impossible odds both personally and professionally.  I stay at the end of the group, cautious as I find ways to get my short legs to jump over thick mud and catch my breath as the cold air that dries my throat.  Being at the end, however, doesn’t mean I am behind.  As Gina, Andrea, and Tim take the lead, I take opportunities to absorb the varied and fascinating Cajas National Park.

Cajas National ParkWalking along a stream, we lose our way, directing ourselves back to the missing trail link.  We find unique ways to forage ourselves up a hill to find the trail marker, relieved we are not lost.  Although I recall the frustration from numerous times I endlessly searched for my destination in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado or along the circling highways of San Diego, California uncertain of where I missed a specific road sign, I never forgot that getting lost is how I really got to know my new residence.  It’s quirks and obscurities is where I learned to feel at home.  Staying on the familiar hiking paths cleared of plants and grasses only leads to one conclusion, but being tested in the unknown is where you find who you really are.  Like hobbits, we are eager for food and a hot drink and find our desired prize at a Cafe/Gift Shop.  Unexpectedly, a park visitor offers a ride back into Cuenca, after Tim runs after a bus and fails to catch it.  We have wandered a great deal to day, but we have found our way home.  We embody J.R.R. Tolkien words from The Fellowship of the Ring, “Not all who wander are lost.”

This post is a part of Weekend Wanderlust hosted by A Brit and a SouthernerTravel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday My Town Shoot Out, Weekend Travel Inspiration hosted by Reflections Enroute, The Crowded Planet, Contented Traveller, Albom Adventures, Safari 254, Families Go! and Malaysian MeandersMonday Escapes hosted by My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase, The Weekly Postcard hosted by Travel Notes and Beyond, and Fly Away Friday hosted by Life in Wanderlust and Time Travel Blonde.

Weekend Wanderlust

Budget Travelers Sandbox

Weekend Travel Inspiration Badge

Travel Monkey
Travel Notes & Beyond

Life in Wanderlust


  1. Elaine J. Masters

    Sweet glimpse into your adventure. It’s true that you find out who you are when being tested. Me? I whine but wish the LORT was my soundtrack too.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Hi Elaine,
      You’re definitely right that you find more about yourself on a new journey. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. budgettraveltalk

    I know the saying Not all who wander are Lost, but I didn’t know that it was from The Fellowship of the Ring. It is so true that getting lost is the best thing that can happen when we are exploring.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Yes, I completely agree! Getting lost sometimes takes you exactly to where you need to be.

  3. Ruth

    I have known about this place for a long time. Looks like a great spot to visit. Do you see any wildlife?

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Unfortunately I didn’t see any wildlife in the park. I did happen to see a couple of llamas on the side of the road on the bus ride up though!

  4. Marie-AZ

    Such a fun post! It was delightful getting your perspective on this hike which I am sure you all enjoyed immensely! Great photos!

  5. corinnevail

    What a beautiful place. I would love to go here. Hmmmm…food for thought.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      If you get the chance, you definitely should! I would love to go back someday and hike a different route.

  6. Marcia

    True: the real adventure happens when you get lost. I can relate too to getting lost and learning about my new neighborhood. It got really frustrating one evening – I could see my apartment building from my car but it took a good 20 minutes to find the right road to get there.
    Love the colors of the park and how the waterfall stands out against it.

  7. Corinne Vail (@corinnevail)

    Brooklyn, I love it. It’s great to get lost…I try to do it all the time…well, I do it all the time. I’m not sure I’m always trying to do it.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Haha, I don’t think always think I’m purposely getting lost, but it happens anyway. It’s incredible what we can find out about ourselves when we’re lost.

  8. mytravelmonkey

    Love the comparisons with Tolkien. Brilliant. I agree that the adventure sometimes is getting lost and then finding your way again. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for your wonderful compliments! I loved adding Tolkien to this post, it was a great challenge and brought to life some good insights.

  9. galanda23

    Real adventure might happen when you are lost, but I hate being lost. It takes all the fun away and all I can remember about that place is that I got lost. It happened to me several times because my husband is always in search of ‘adventure.’ #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I do see what you mean. Being lost for too long can get tiresome and overwhelming. I find I am terrible at directions and get lost as a result. Sometimes it’s OK, but only if I can find my way back to the beginning.

  10. Anisa

    It looks like a beautiful place to wander though. Glad it all turned out well. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the beauty of Cajas National Park.

  11. Kana

    So true! Sometimes getting lost helps you discover your strengths or just find something new and amazing! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I appreciate your kind words about my post! I’m heading over to Fly Away Friday tonight, thank you for reminding me!

  12. chloe

    This place looks so cool!! Glad you were able to find your way and I totally understand getting lost in the suburbs of Denver!! We live in Denver haha can get lost quick!! Can’t wait to see what you share on FlyAwayFriday!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I also love reading your posts about Denver, it takes me back to my times living there.

Give us your thoughts, comments, and opinions here!