Monday, September 19, 2016

Peru, Day 4: The toughest day

So, given how tough yesterday was, I was more than a bit worried about my ability to achieve the second pass. At this altitude, you're gasping for breath every 20 feet of incline. And Disnarda had shown us where we were going to go:

Look at the above picture - we were told we'd be hiking to the two little "cat ears" sticking out of the rock in the center-right of the ridge. Do you get my anticipation and fear now??

Unfortunately, our travel companion, Lindsay from Canada, was in even worse shape than I was. She had seemed to have no problems hiking the first day, but she wasn't on altitude sickness meds like Dave and I were, so she hadn't been sleeping. Things finally caught up with her in a very unpleasant night after day 1. She still made it partway up the mountain in this state, which Dave and I were very impressed by, but eventually needed some help on a horse. (So at this point I felt better that if I had to be carried up by horse, at least I wasn't the only one!)

Eventually we made it to the lunch spot, where we met Lindsay, who had been resting. Much revived, she was able to make it up the final stretch of the pass with us, which consisted of a very thin dirt path hugging the 45-degree side of the mountain. 

I don't really know how I made it up here, since I am so terrified of steepness. I tried to get a picture, which you can see at right, and you can see how very thin this path was and how little there was to grab onto. If I had slipped, it would have been a big slide down my butt on the side of this thing.

Eventually we made it! The Accoccasa pass is about 15,000 feet up, and you can see the valley behind us. We felt very accomplished, as you can imagine!

At the summit, someone had made a lot of little rock sculpture guys, similar to what I'd seen at Sacsayhuaman a few days prior. I love these little guys!

Once we had reached the summit, it was a very pleasant, slow walk down into the Chancachuco Valley to our camp. This was one of the more pleasant walks of the entire trip, with a nice slow slope, no rocks, and lots to look at.

For example, we found many animal bones, including an entire horse skeleton. Apparently a river sometimes overflows into the valley, carrying all kinds of detritus down. 

At the pass, our porters and horses had also passed us, so we got to see them descending this very lovely valley ahead of us. Here is Disnarda showing off:

Another thing I loved in the valley were these odd little cacti that looked soft and fluffy, with little pops of yellow flowers deep inside:

Disnarda said that, from far away, they look "like sheep taking a siesta." Sure enough, we eventually came upon a hill of them. Pretty cute.

I really want to crochet a scarf or cowl to commemorate these cacti, which were my favorite plants on the whole trip. Not sure how to do that, but I'm sure some fun fur will be involved.

Here's a fun shot of me in the camp at the end of day 2, right before dinner. 

In this camp, we were on a bit of a hill, so we were sort of sliding downhill all night and had to keep pushing ourselves up.

Dinner on this night was special and definitely worth mentioning - our chef prepared a special lamb and potato feast on the fire, with hot rocks and straw serving as the oven. I was continually impressed by the food served on the trek; Andean Treks should be very proud of their teams.

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