Nepal Annapurna Sanctuary Trek: Hike Out and then Back to Pokhara

10 01 2019

Our string of wonderful mornings continued, with the Himalayas beyond our campsite bathed in early morning orange alpenglow. The weather was nice enough that we took our breakfast outside.

From Campsite to Road to Boutique Resort, An Extended Day

This day was going to be a LONG one. We’d hike out, walking through Ghandruk, a village, then down to a road at Syaulebhatti where we would meet some 4X4s which would ferry us along the rough roads down, to the Modi Khola river, then on “paved” roads to Pokhara. We’d have lunch at Phewa Lake in Pokhara, and then overnight in the very posh boutique Temple Tree Resort, which for us would be a first-class oasis following our trek! Due to my challenges with perspiration and clothes issues a hotel with some laundry opportunities was in my mind for a few days!

With Light Hearts We Say Goodbye to Guides, Kitchen Staff and Porters

Being our last day and hike out, it was time to thank and reward our trekking staff! Tips! On this trek we had more staff than any other I’d been a part of. About 45 staff total! That is because of the Nepalese steps. On my other treks, such as The Chomolhari Trek in Bhutan or The Cordillera Huayhuash Trek in Peru, horses, mules or Lamas carried the tents, duffel bags, kitchen equipment and so forth. But in this part of Nepal, with steps, only humans could navigate. So human porters carried these loads. On our days walking, the call of “Porters coming” was heard many times!

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Porters lined up and we gave each their tip individually.

It is a big deal. The evening prior, each of us put together our tip and gave that to Cathy Ann. Cathy Ann then spent time the night before preparing the tips for each group of staff – Porters, Kitchen Staff and Guides. Each group lined up and we doled out the tips one by one!

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Our deeply talented kitchen staff, and a couple of guides.

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Our world class guides, including Cathy Ann! OK the mountains behind are cute.

Then it was time to hike out. The trail, completely paved with stones and steps, wound right through the town of Ghandruk. Those folks have a beautiful view every day!

 

Leaving Ghandruk behind, we descended, finally dropping to a dirt road. A mile or two later we arrived at the point where we met up with our 4x4s which would ferry us to Pokhara.

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We had 3 4X4s, and I volunteered to take the spare seat in the lead Indian Jeep with Mingma and Cathy Ann. Cathy Ann and I are both susceptible to falling asleep with the rocking motions of trains and 4X4s, and we both succumbed to the motions!

The Annapurna area is one where tourists need visas to enter/exit, and these were prepared for us in advance of our trip. These seem to be surrendered on the way out. Here is my visa…

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I imagine the fees help fund the Conservation Area. Well, I hope! Looks to be about $30.

Off the Trail, the Realities of Nepalese Life Hit Hard

Being that we were in Nepal and that schedules melt away with the daily machinations, this day was no different. Along the bumpy road, we encountered a guy operating a piece of equipment which was re-leveling the road. There was no angry honking of horns. Instead, an understanding that this guy was doing his job and that we’d just have to patiently wait.

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And wait we did, for at least an hour whilst he went about his work leveling the road.

There was nothing to do but wait and allow him time to do his job.

But the traffic built. And built. And built. And built and built and built.

When he was ready to take his break, there were dozens of 4X4s and even buses ready to pass!

We passed within inches of vehicles going the other way.

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Behind us was a bus, and I wondered how they would negotiate passing all the 4X4s headed up hill.

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I’ve definitely been on more precarious roads. In Peru, one-vehicle only roads with a cliff face above and below, sometimes traveled underneath overhanging boulders…and many times we encountered trucks coming the other way, forcing us to back down to a spot wide enough to pass.

Nevertheless, these roads really need a 4×4 and make the Americans driving their often-blinged out shiny 4x4s seem absolutely ridiculous. Most of them never see anything beyond a trip to the soccer match!

Over the Top Opulence Well Deserved

In Pokhara we settled in at the Temple Tree Resort. It is a superbly beautiful oasis. Rooms are in smaller buildings sprinkled throughout the property. Opening the door of your room you see a verdant garden, through which you walk, and pass by a meandering swimming pool, fire pit and outdoor restaurant and bar. How wonderful!

Lunch by the Lake

I was part of the lead group to make it to a restaurant on Lake Phewa. With some time to spare I walked along the lakeside promenade. There, Indian and Nepalese tourists were enjoying boat rides on the lake.

Cute, right? These boats do need some upkeep!

Ah, the rest of the group shows up! Our group plus Migma and Sonam enjoy a sumptuous and well-deserved Indian-style lunch. YUM! All Aboard!

Bellies satisfied, we walked back to the Temple Tree Resort. This left us with about two hours before gathering for happy hour. For us guys, Don, Kevin and I, after 10 days trekking, the obvious choice was to fill the gap with pampering! For Don, Kevin and I, that meant something like a single edge shave, a hair cut, a beard trim, maybe a shoulder massage!

Continuing a Tradition

I have a tradition of getting a hair cut on overseas trips. In Thailand, or Bali, or Cambodia, of Bhutan, etc. Even if I am bald. So what! It’s fun getting a hair cut.

Only here, I got the total package. Hair cut, single blade shave, head massage, arm massage, shoulder massage.

This is my “Bollywood Shave” video in Bhutan…

And with no delay, Pokhara Nepal!

Shaves and hair cuts completed, the men were ready to head back to our resort and enjoy a happy hour and a supremely festive end-of-trek dinner! And indulge we did. What happened will just have to be part of our collective memories….hmmmm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Annapurna Base Camp & Machupachare Base Camp

21 12 2018

The Annapurna Sanctuary. Photo: Wikimedia.org

A Cold and Starry Night

After dinner at MBC, the fog cleared and stars shined bright. It was so clear it seemed I could jump up and touch the stars. Being that now we were at over 12,000ft elevation, it got chilly quickly. It would dip to 29 degrees Fahrenheit. My clothes being wet, I pretty much committed to sticking around base camp and dry stuff – and planned on doing a 30-minute each way hike up and back toward Annapurna Base Camp in the morning.

A Perfect Day Dawns

I was up before dawn, and indeed the stars were to die for! I could see the outlines of some peaks in the starlight. Some trekkers could be seen already hiking to Annapurna. Then pink of dawn came, and gradually the sun bathed the peaks more and more!

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One by one, our group emerged from their tents, cameras in hand, to capture the unfolding spectacle!

Each peak was 21,000 ft or higher, with Annapurna I, hidden behind a nearby hill, 26,545 ft.

There was no wind. Just still perfection.

With mountains this big, it was enough to just stare at their magnificence.

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I had to get out some of the tutu gear for a last photo and evidence I got there!

All for one and one for all, I did it. WE did it. For Joani Carpenter, for Shari Roberts, and in memory of my brother John.

We’d have our breakfast, and then the group would hike up about 1,200 feet to Annapurna Base Camp.

I wasn’t the only one with wet gear!

 

 

 

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Frozen Clothes

Annette’s bandana had frozen completely stiff! It was my job to defrost and dry it!

I had experimented during the night with trying to use myself and my sleeping bag as a dryer for my synthetic and merino wool layers. It actually worked out pretty well. Still, I was reticent about hiking up and making myself/clothes wet again at the altitude/cold.

Morning at MBC

It worked out pretty well. As the others climbed, I went to one of the restaurants and wrote in my journal, had coffee, and visited with some trekkers from Germany, Holland and India. The German couple had already returned from Annapurna Base Camp, having captured images of the stars up there before dawn above the peaks! Wow such beautiful photos.

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A Short Hike Up

It turned out to be darn comfortable outside the restaurant that morning. Then I took my 30-minute walk up. In this video I mistakenly say all the mountains are above 25,000′. Not so. But they are above 21,000′ for sure! And as you can see, for the first time on this trek, we were 100% above tree line. This was something different for me, for on the Chomolhari Trek in Bhutan, and the Cordillera Huayhuash Trek in Peru, we were above tree line most of the time.

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Our Group At Annapurna Sanctuary

My trek-mates Annette, Tara, Madeline, Uli, Amee, Gerry, Cathy Ann, Kevin, and Don all made it up to Annapurna Base Camp and took in the Annapurna Sanctuary! The top of that ridge is 26,545′ Annapurna I.

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Left to right: Cathy Ann, Don, Amee, Madeleine, Uli, Annette, Gerry, Kevin and Tara! Annapurna I right above Gerry.

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Takar, Mingma and Sonam on the left!

Sometime after mid day, everybody returned and we had lunch. And then it was perhaps a 2.5 hour hike down and out to Hinku, where we had lunch yesterday. We arrived about 3 p.m. I think this was a good decision because there isn’t a whole lot to do at Machupachare Base Camp – and it shortened one of the hardest hikes on the way back.

The hike back to 10,650′ Hinku was mostly forested. And due to local showers in the valley, the steps were damp – and leaves had fallen on some of them. A recipe for slips and falls. And several of us, including myself, had spills. The hike down, down, down steep steps brought home why I was so beat up yesterday on the way up! And each and every step needed to be carefully placed, lest one sprain an ankle and get helicoptered out! Regardless of the gauntlet of challenges we got into Hinku safe and unhurt. And as was what seemed a regularity that week, fog rolled in mid afternoon making a bit moist.

So what! We unfolded our camping chairs and enjoyed the views!

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OK time for late afternoon tea/coffee and then dinner!

 

 

 

 

 

 





Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash – Whoop Ass! To 16,404′ Cuyoc Pass!

13 08 2017

 

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At Cuyoc Pass, with the Andes stretching away behind me!

With soothing natural hot springs mending our muscles yesterday, this morning it’s time to put up or shut up. Today we must make it to the highest pass of our trek. And then, manage a steep scree-covered descent without injury or accident. As it would turn out, this day would be filled with physical tests, mental challenges, crazy views, lifetime accomplishments, and Olympic worthy feats. And not without some llama entertainment!

Fueled up with breakfast we were on our way early. I was definitely pumped up. But also trepidation was creeping in. This was what all that training was all about. We had the usual chilly start with a gradually warming morning. We take a break to rest, de-layer and hydrate.

We head off again, and it’s not long before we are made aware we need to make way. Looking back we see periscope necks, big eyes and radar ears rounding the bend! Llamas! The camp crew and their llama/donkey train pass us. Always a highlight!

It Took Everything To Reach The Pass

But beauty aside, we’re focused on making this pass. Lots of oxygen needs to feed our legs if they are to get us up and over. My belly seems to swell to bizarre balloonish size on the way up these passes. Cathy Ann tells me it’s normal, the body is gathering as much oxygen as it can to make it. Today the pain of the climb is really getting to me. I am wondering if I’ll need to call in one of our “just in case” horses! One more step. One. More. Step.

There comes a point where I am telling myself that I don’t belong here. I am no match for this. What was I thinking I could do this? I am so involved in the struggle that I ask for The Powers Above for help. I have never done this before, and I am not Catholic. But I start making signs of the Cross and saying Hail Mary prayers to get me over! Then Karla, in front of me, nearly collapses in shortness of breath. And from behind, I hear Chris calling for the emergency horse. WOW. Somehow this makes some adrenaline kick in. With 20 more minutes to go, I manage to make it. SLOWLY. But I make it.

 

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Gen and Jan on the pass!

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From here, the Andes roll away in two directions (see 1st photo above at beginning of the post too)

 

This GoPro video says all! What a spectacular accomplishment! We are all giddy of course, and take lots of photos for our memories.

About Trekking Poles

I learned some things about using my trekking poles on this trip. The first couple of days, I kept them extended all day. Toward the afternoon, I was suffering aching shoulders, which was really annoying. I attributed this to my backpack – I figured I was incorrectly packing or adjusting the straps. But fiddling with the backpack was to no avail. On trail, because I had the poles extended, it meant when it got steeper I was picking them up too much – over and over. Someone suggested I shorten the poles to make things more comfortable. Voila! I could now do a whole day without discomfort.

I also observed “trekking pole behavior” of my trek mates. Some used their poles all the time. But others seemed to only use the poles for tricky trail stretches or uphills. I found myself using them for tricky sections and on the uphill parts. But on flatter sections they just seemed to get in the way – so I’d just carry them on one side. So I guess whatever works best is the right way! No matter what, trekking poles are a big help on these trips.

They are also terrifically handy when crossing streams – especially streams gray with glacial minerals. You can feel how deep a proposed crossing is.

I Think The Descent Is Even Harder

Now that we’ve made it to the top, the perhaps most challenging part – or riskiest – comes. The descent off this peak is steep and filled with “mines” which are small scree-like rocks. These can be incredibly troublesome. With a misstep they roll like ball bearings under your feet.

One by one we start off – Cathy Ann asks that we give each other a good distance in case of a spill. I start down and for the first part it reminds me a little of skiing. This requires a kind of bent-knee stance. And, we DO have poles, like skiing. You’ve got to be able to recover if you slide. At first, I’m doing pretty good with this. Then I see Jan take a good spill! But she is Okay, gets back up and keeps going. Then I hear that Sandy had a mighty slip but managed an Olympic judged 9 on a recovery on the go. Then it happens to me. My left foot hits some of these ball bearings and hyperextends. It extends and then stops just as fast. I don’t fall. But I know it’s one of those situations where while I might make it to camp, the knee could swell up and become a pretty serious problem on a trek like this! No way to know now. I just need to keep going.

I don’t have photos of this descent as it was too taxing – I was just focused on making it down! Some of our group are medical professionals, so I ask if there are any suggestions about my knee. Jan suggests I take lots of Ibuprofen and keep it elevated as much as I can. And, if there is a river nearby and I can stand the cold, dunk it in there! She gives me some ibuprofen – I had acetaminophen but no ibuprofen.

We hear about a mountain here called Diablo Mudo. In Spanish that means Mute Devil. I kept wondering if there were any stories about Diablo Mudo. With a name like that, there have got to be some stories!

We reach Cuyoc, our 14,436′ high camp, with a gorgeous backdrop of 19,000ft peaks and vertical cliff faces behind.

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Terrible weather, huh?

We’re greeted with beautiful sun at camp. I decide I’m  not braving the icy river next to us to treat my left knee. I hang out in my tent and do my best to elevate my left. Leg – I even skip happy hour. I hope it helps! Well, when dinner comes, I don’t seem horribly worse – so I’m optimistic. Then afterward, I go to bed right away with the leg on top of my duffel bag.

Another chilly night of bright stars tonight. So, what did I bring for the 25-degree evenings? How did I manage? I brought an 800-fill down zero-degree sleeping bag. At bed time, I’d wear thermal underwear leggings, with a long sleeved merino wool top and a light fleece shirt over. Up top, I wore a ski hat and a sleeping mask. On my hands, I wore lightweight fleece gloves. I found this arrangement most toasty! I’d also ensure my sleeping bag hood was over the top. The sleeping pad and a (yay) pillow were provided for us!

 





Hike and A Hot Tub Soak!

8 08 2017

Today’s plan calls for a mellow (well, relatively) hike out of Huayhuash to a 15,584′ pass, 5-hours total, and ending with the afternoon at a hot tub soak and camp at Viconga Thermal Baths, at 14,432′ – natural hot springs here we come! Sounds good! We’ll also break out our portable hot shower! After these hard-won days, I’m liking the sound of that.

Like most mornings, our “beast herders” are out before dawn wrangling the herds! These guys sometimes climb hills, yelling urgent taunts to get their charges (donkeys and llamas) in line. Sometimes they disappear behind hillsides. But every morning, they find the beasts of burden, bringing them back. I never understood why the beasts don’t just take off during the night!

We pass through some beautiful valleys, and pass by condors above, and chinchilla below.

Chinchilla

These chinchilla are really cute! Part rabbit, part guinea pig, or something, they inhabit the rocks all around these parts. With alert ears, long whiskers and fluffy tails!

In between certain elevations, our hikes flow through fields of wildflowers. We experience Paintbrush, Mistletoe, flowering cactus, giant six foot lupine, and others I cannot identify.

Then today as every day, our train of llamas, donkeys and horses catch up with us! They, and our crew, carry our stuff and set up camp so that when we arrive, we just crawl into our tents and mend.

Now it’s time to take a break.

 

We catch up with ourselves. Some like me de-layer, whilst others visit, or take in snacks. On the way we pass a good sized lake. It’s the largest we’ll see on our trek.

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Then, after some climbs and descents, we see our destination! It’s a little valley with a glacier-fed stream flowing through. Up above and behind, it’s got three different temperature thermal baths! Wow! It’s going to be a sweet afternoon!

 

Man that bath felt great. But getting out of the water NOT! OMG.

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They had 3 baths with varying temps. But when you get out, it’s chilly!

Along with our thermal baths, which felt EXQUISITE! Our staff also set up a hot shower. Now, this shower was far from automatic. Somebody had to pump up the water pressure for it to work! Cathy Ann and Roger handled the technical aspects.

 

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Regina peeks out ready for the shower!

 

 

So, Regina gets a real hot shower! Got to be worth it!

Tomorrow is a one of our WHOOP ASS hikes! We are due to climb over 16,000ft! We need all the soothing from today’s thermal baths for that one!

 

 





Past the Emerald Lakes to Huayhuash

7 08 2017

 

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Morning mist casts a moody tone…

 

Today’s agenda begins with a bang and continues! We’re all up before dawn to catch sunrise on this lake and Andes peaks! Once again ice covers the tent fly, and I stretch my body out to loosen those muscles. All our tents are aligned to catch the soon-to-be sun bathed peaks! This daybreak, a mysterious freezing fog shrouds camp, and partially obscures the view up above. Our llamas take it all in stride. But it burns off quickly!

 

It was worth awakening pre-dawn to get the pictures! We are so lucky. Beautiful sky and no wind. Today’s hike will pass by this lake, take a left and climb a valley just opposite these peaks. It will be a gradual rise at first then steepening toward 15,748′ Siula Pass.

It was pretty chilly at dawn. But as the sun warmed camp, it became nice enough to get rid of our breakfast tent! Aha! Breakfast with THIS VIEW!

 

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WOW! Time for coffee tea and orange pancakes!

 

 

Lake Breakfast

Anna ensures each place setting is perfecto!

OK, it’s 8:00 time to hoist our packs and hike! Out we go, following the lake, up up, and then to the left. We start tracing a valley filled with terminal glacial moraines and sapphire lakes beneath, all under the incredible towering Andes peaks.

 

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Roger checks back to ensure the group’s coming along

 

We take a rest stop at one of theses lakes, above which there is another truly colorful lake. This time I decided to stick around and catch up with myself. The whole area is so peaceful, except for loud thunderous noise which goes on for 15 – 20 seconds. Avalanche!

 

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That’s not fog, that’s an avalanche!

 

This was the 2nd of this day. A previous avalanche made it all the way to one of the lakes.

Past the lakes, the climb steepens, and I want to groan, but I didn’t. I kept on going, and then, Roger announces we are 15 minutes from lunch! This was good, because it broke up the steep, scree covered hike to the pass.

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Today’s hike is a long one – over 7 hours total! I was so glad to see the yellow tents of camp!

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Our Llamas at Camp Huayhuash, at 14,268′. Always ready!

 





To Magical Lake Carhuacocha!

31 07 2017

Janca coffee

Days on trek start like this one – with a call for “Coffee/Tea”? From outside my tent. Unzipping the fly, I’m greeted with a warm beverage, smiles and grand views! This is camping at its best.

Today’s hike over 15,092′ Carhuac Pass won’t be as steep as yesterday’s. To me, that means that, instead of breaking down my leg muscles again, it’ll give them just enough stimulation that hopefully some muscle will grow…making following days more manageable.

Once we finish breakfast it’s time to hit the trail. The cooks lay out snacks for the day, which usually include fruit, hard candy and some chocolate bars. Those lemon/lime hard candies really help with my dry throat! We start out. Up and up we go. As before, Roger leads, setting the pace, and Anna sweeps with Manuel and emergency horses following. We typically stop about every 90 minutes to rest, grab a candy, re-hydrate, and change layers. Hydration is critical when exerting at altitude. I would force down as much water as possible. But on these rest stops, one of my main duties was to remove layers! While it might be 25 degrees at 6 a.m., by mid morning it’s already 50 degrees and with the exertion from hiking these climbing trails, I need to lose lots of layers!

Our itinerary says tonight’s campsite will be a feast for the eyes! We’ll be at a lake with an arc of 20,000′ peaks at one end! As we climb this morning, some of the sights come into view.

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We see a hanging glacier cascading into a valley – but right now, we cannot see the top as there are clouds drifting over.

Soon we reach our pass! We stop to rest.

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Jane, Diane and Jill celebrate!

Roger explains that this spot has lots of fossils. The Andes were in the sea some 70 million years ago. Anna goes off to collect some fossil clams for us.

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A fossilized coral fan

There is a very striking example of a fossilized coral fan here. In this section of the Andes, active geology is very evident. Everywhere you look, you can see twisted sedimentary layers in the mountainsides.

Back to hiking. We will descend to a lunch spot, as our chef staff has passed us and is already down there setting up. We keep going, and as we progress, the mountains reveal themselves. Then, around a bend, a flat spot with a lake view and to DIE FOR mountains up above. But wait there’s more! Our lunch table is right there waiting for us!

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No only that, but our kitchen crew is making something delightful. And dressed to suit!

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Fancy lunch chefs!

I really don’t know how it can get any better than this!

Just looking at the view might be enough.

But we get lunch too! In this video, I say “Touching the Void” happened here. Well, not exactly. It was on the other side of these peaks. We’ll be over there in a few days.

Our camp is about an hour from here.

I’ve been thinking about riding one of our horses. Not so much to help me get over a pass, but more to just ride!

So, I ride down to camp with Manuel guiding me along. I have forgotten how, for the novice horseman like me, going downhill whilst the horse navigates some tricky twists and turns can be a tad unsettling. A couple of times I felt like I was “going to go over the handlebars!”

We reach the side of the lake opposite camp. On this side, other groups are lodged. We pass by the French group. And our friends the trio of girls from Australia and Holland.

My horse route takes me behind a hill, skirting a farm. Coming round that hill the full impact of the eye candy of our campsite fills the sky. OMG! I am pretty much speechless. This is incredible!

What a day! Life is worth living! I can’t say this one was a waste! This is what coming here really is all about! From here, I can see 21,7591 Yerupaja, the 2nd tallest mountain in Peru. Also right here is Siula Grande, notorious for its role in the film “Touching the Void.”

 





Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash: To the Continental Divide

29 07 2017

Today’s plan starts at 13,776′ Cuartelhuain, climbs over our first 15,000’+ pass at 15,387′, and then we’ll descend to our camp at Janca at 13,940′. So today is the test I must pass if my conditioning and our acclimatization days have prepared me. I know I’ll see vistas indescribable to people back home, and experience physical and emotional feelings both excruciating and exquisite. And beyond today, there will be more 15,000′ passes and a 16,000+’ pass coming up.

So, what’s starting and ending the day like on the trail? Well, unzipping your tent you are likely to be greeted with eye popping views. And then, staff comes with warm beverages! After that, staff delivers hot water for washing. At day’s end, you arrive in camp with your tent set up and duffel bag inside. Staff brings warm wash water. And then about an hour later there’s “happy hour” in the mess tent, at which snacks and coffee/tea are served.

It chilled off last night to about 30 degrees. Ice crystals formed on the underside of my tent fly. The stars were incredible, with the Milky Way and Southern Cross right on top of us. But as the sun rose, it bathed our valley in motivating warmth this morning. With breakfast done, we are on the trail by 8:00 a.m. We are all dressed in removable layers – because we know we’ll be working hard climbing and the temperatures are going to rise.

We leave as a group. I stick behind local guide Roger, who, I discover, has this amazing slow pace so that we can make it over these passes. He keeps looking back, checking to see how the group is coming along. The other local guide, Anna, plays “sweeper,” going last, ensuring everyone makes it. Right behind Anna is Manuel – who is managing our “just in case” horses. About 90 minutes into our hike, the camp crew comes through with our parade of llamas, horses and donkeys! It is quite a show. This, plus the view, has me giddy. But then something happens. I am exerting so much I can’t remember the name of the trek I am on. YIKES! I realize the altitude is getting to me. And, the urgent breaths, plus the dry air, are making my throat sore. So, I start sucking on one of the hard lemon/lime candies I took for snacks. And I play a game in my head remembering the other treks, the Cordillera Blanca for example. Then it comes back, I am on the Cordillera Huayhuash. Well, that was alarming. But at least I was cognizant enough to be alarmed!

After a rest stop, Cathy Ann reminded us to pay attention to our steps and our breathing. Remember, the breathing gives oxygen to our legs! Sometimes, too much talking or socializing takes a toll. So right now, I pay strict attention to breathing and to matching Roger’s footsteps. Then I notice way up ahead – WAY UP – our crew hiking with the llamas! OMG. That means WE have to hike up there. Then somebody calls out, “Condors!” Just glimpsing these incredible creatures gliding up above made me temporarily forget my challenges. And then, Roger points to the pass. I will make it!

We make this 1st pass! This is the continental divide of South America. To one side, all rainwater goes to the Pacific. The other – to the greatest river on Planet Earth – the Amazon. We’d linger up here some 15 – 20 minutes, and then, time to descend to our next camp, at Janca. The hike to Janca was much more relaxing. Once off the pass, it was a long gradual descent.

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Janca, from my tent!

A well deserved relaxation at Janca would be in store. There, we’d be treated to views of 19,000′ plus peaks of the Cordillera. I’d get my hot wash water, and then a nice hot beverage social hour after that. Trekking is good!

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That hot water is most welcome. Time to wash up and heck, why not have a shave!

Our llamas are a bunch of characters. They hang out together, and once in a while, local “folk” greet them and ask how things are going.

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The light made for some sweet photo taking opportunities.

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With dinner finished, it’s time to bed down because tomorrow promises a day packed with adventure! We are told tomorrow’s lunch, and camp, offer unsurpassed views.