In the Reserva Ecológica El Ángel, on Ecuador’s border with Colombia, a legion of velvet-leafed frailejón appear and disappear in the páramo mist, as it rises and falls across the tundra like an ocean tide.
I ride alone, stopping to rattle off photographs whenever the whim takes me, which is often. But as many as I take, I struggle to capture the sense of their sheer numbers. It’s a particular feeling, being in the middle of their congregation; thousands upon thousands human-height plants, standing tall and watching me, like benign invaders from a distant planet.
Specific to just a few humid yet high altitude regions of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, frailejón are intrinsic to the area’s water cycle. They grow amongst tussock grasses, at elevations above 3000m, their hairy leaves catching moisture in the air and feeding it into the earth.
If you would like to keep up with where I am between tardy blog entries, I keep my While Out Riding Facebook page more regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. You can find it here. Occasionally, I post pictures on my Instagram feed. And if you haven’t overdosed by then, I’ve also started a While Out Riding Tumblr edition, focusing on images.