It’s really difficult to do one post on an 8 day, world class trek through one of Andes’ most spectacular segments. So, I will just make a list of ‘highlights’ – I use that term very loosely – from our time in the Cordillera Huayhuash. Our crew consisted of Dan and I, Belinda, Ally (our new badass Coloradan friend) and Gil and Nir, two hilarious Israeli gents. We also had Jesus #1 (Guide/cook) and Jesus #2 (Donkey driver). With donkeys carrying everything but our daypacks, food prepared for us at the campsites when we arrived in the evenings, and surprisingly good quality equipment, we were able to hike quickly during the day due to less weight and relax in the evenings. Going with a guided group was definitely worth the extra 6 dollars a day. Brace yourself for a ton of pictures.
– Absurdly warm hot springs on the 4th day to cure the stench off our unwashed bodies. Kind of.
– Crossing a ‘pass’ every single day, with a few double pass days. A pass could be defined as a path that goes up between mountains, generally steep ascents/descents into high elevation (4600 meters – 5100 meters), where most of the best views can be found.
– Tea Time. We would arrive into the campsite between 4 and 6 everyday, to find Jesus #1 preparing ‘tea time,’ complete with popcorn, instant coffee, and hot chocolate powder. This may be one of the highlights of our entire time traveling. We even continued this, sans popcorn, once we returned to Huaraz.
– Big green video game moss pads. These things were huge, hard, peat-like circles surrounded by water, that required hopping to and from in order to avoid the water. We felt a bit like super mario. Until our feet got wet and cold. Then we felt a bit like grumpy hikers.
– San Antonio. We were told that 80% of trekkers claimed that the view from this pass was the best of the whole trek. After conquering the 5000 meter pass that morning amidst a legit snowstorm, only Dan, Ally and I opted to go to San Antonio, since the weather did not look promising for a good view. Fortune favors the bold! We had a 20 minute pocket of sun and clear weather at the top, but the view was nothing of what it could had been if it was clear. I lost my bet with Nir, and ended up owing him a beer once he looked at the my pictures from the top of the pass.
– Returning from San Antonio. After some serious miscommunication on times, we met Jesus #1 right where we thought we were going to spend the night, and he happily informed us that we had 2.5 more hours of hiking instead of 2.5 minutes. He then led us deftly down a treacherously steep stone path next to a waterfall. Oh yeah, and it was steep, dark, and we had headlamps, wet feet, and barely sufficient warm clothes. Type 2 fun, for sure.
– View on the 7th day. It was beautiful outside, and we had a full view of practically the entire range at the top of our very last pass. This view included Siula Grande, the mountain from Touching The Void, Peru’s second tallest peak Yerupaja, and Ally’s V. We must have sat atop that viewpoint for a good 2 hours. It was worth every second of rain, hail and snow, and every day of wet, freezing cold feet. Truly spectacular.
– Whiskey in the Jar-o. Dan and I decided that we had to have some booze-assisted fun on these 8 days, so we brought 3 bottles of whiskey, thinking that our group was going to be around 10-12 people. Turns out we were 6. Bonus town! So, we had a few evenings of playing ‘six’ and ‘a lovely game of fives.’ Turns out the Israeli’s were incredible, and the other 4 of us paid for it in many penalty swigs of whiskey. Does elevation effect your tolerance? Yes, yes it does. It was a blast. ‘Thank you for a lovely game of thrones.’
– El Fogón. This restaurant in Huaraz became the celebration spot after treks. We feasted upon copious amounts of meat, veggies, beer, and then went to our favorite apple pie spot to get our sugar fix. Life was, and still is, very good.