Peruvian Adventure 5/18/2006-6/28/2006

Steamboat Denver Miami Lima Huaraz Cordillera Blanca Huaraz Lazy Dog and LlacaCordillera Huayhuash Huaraz Lima Miami and home

6/21/2006: Quebrada Cashapampa 14,720 ft:

 

Day

Trek

High Point

15,700 ft

16,600 ft

Ascent

4,418 ft

22,566 ft

Descent

1176 ft

20,298 ft

 

Today we paid for our low elevation trip to Huayllapa yesterday. It was a long steady 4,400 ft climb up to Tapush Punta.

The long winding trail from Huayllapa to Tapush Punta

 

About five hours up from Huayllapa and two days from any village in the other direction we met an old couple with one horse. As with most mountain people we have met, it is difficult to guess their age, but these two must have been in their 60s or 70s. The woman was walking and the man was on the horse. Just like the village kids, the old woman asked for a carmelo. Unlike with the village kids, I gave her a couple of small candies. I figured my gift of candy was unlikely to change their behavior.

Senor and Senora, miles from nowhere

 

I find the people as engaging and fascinating as the scenery. About 300 ft below the summit of Tapush I encountered another child. He presented a very serious front, but once I started talking to him he was very friendly and curious. He was eleven years old and was tending to a flock of sheep just over the hill. He invited me to see his sheep, but as we approached his sheep dog decided I must have mutton on my mind and wouldnt let me closer than about 100 feet.

To see anyone, much less kids, out in these wild places alone is a shock to my western sense of reality and responsibility, but I have to remind myself this is their back yard and is probably as familiar and safe to them as our trails are in to me in Steamboat Springs.

Young Sheppard at about 15,000 ft nearing the summit of Tapush

 

The land was very different from what we had been traveling though, dark, barren and lonely feeling.

Tapush Punta, marking our 8th (my 9th) pass over 15,000 ft in nine days

 

We ate lunch on the summit. A combination of fresh potatoes, eggs, celery, onions, carrots, lime, tuna, and other secret spices. Very good!

Descended to Quebrada Cashapampa and set up camp. This was not our intended destination for the day, but a storm was moving in and we thought it would be better to set up camp now than struggle to do so in the middle of a snow storm. We did have a light rain and snow, but it blew through and we are now enjoying a very nice, but cold afternoon.

Our camp is situated in a deep horseshoe shaped valley surrounded on the west by Nitishccocha, the east by Diablo Mudo and the east by Suroccocha. It is very beautiful, but will make for an early lights out and icy morning.

Walked east of camp through the meadow and down a ridge. Came upon one of the wonders of the northern Andes, the Quenual Tree. They are the highest growing trees on the planet (in terms of elevation not height). Their thick bark is created by layers of fine thin red bark looking like sheets of crinkled and torn glossy red paper. The gnarled branches of the quenual tree show the hardships of living at 15,000 ft in the northern Andes. I had hiked through a grove of Quenual trees going to Ishinca, but had not seen these clusters of bright red flowers that clung in heavy bunched to the branches of this tree. The Quenual tree is a relative of the rose, but these gorgeous blooms where actually parasitic plants that share this inhospitable environment with the host tree.

 

I know I have used this quote before, but it once again comes to mind:

 

When you look upon such things there comes surging through the confusion of the mind an awareness of the dignity of the earth, of the unaccountable importance of being alive, and the thought comes our o nowhere that unhappiness rises not so much from lacking as from having too much.

Richard E. Bird, from Discovery

Shot taken through my digital through my binoculars

 

6/22/2006: Laguna Jahuacocha 13,390 ft:

 

Day

Trek

High Point

16,070 ft

16,600 ft

Ascent

1,866 ft

24,432 ft

Descent

3,289 ft

23,687 ft

It was a very cold start to the day waking at 15,000 ft. Since all the camp sites on the trek sit deep in valleys the days generally end around 5 PM as the sun drops below the high peaks and the frost doesnt melt until the sun hits our tents around 8:30 AM. In spite of a heavy frost on the camp we needed to get an early start to clear Punta Yauche at 16, 070 ft before any storms moved in.

Climbing toward Punta Yaucha

 

Threatening clouds pouring over from the Amazon like a Tsunami

 

We ate a good breakfast and packed up a little wet before descending in to Quebrada Angoconcha.

It felt good to be moving and I was far enough ahead at the top of Yauche Punta to climb to the top of Yuacha Peak. We all met up at the pass around noon and ate lunch before doing the long descent in to Laguna Jahuacocha.

The day cleared and as we descended to Laguna Jahuacocha the air was warm, the sun was out and the flowers were blooming

 

We made camp right at the outlet stream of the lake and after camp was up Zack and I took a swim in the stream. Like all the streams in the Huayhuash the was crystal clear and ice cold. The stream it self was about 6 ft wide and 8-10 feet deep with a shear drop off on the shore lines. After the swim and lunch Zack, Quique and I set off on a fishing expedition around the lake the inlet. I caught two small trout and Zack caught nine. We were able to observe the some of the locals fishing. They used a long branch with a fixed length of line tied to the end. Casting was accomplished by throwing the bated end of the line and a float out as far as they could. When the fish bit they jerked the line toward shore generally bringing the fish in with one motion. Their gear was much more primitive than mine, but far more effective.

 

Peru Adventure Part Two Chapter XVIII

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