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

Steamboat à Denver à Miami à Lima à Huaraz à Cordillera Blanca à Huaraz àLazy Dog and LlacaàCordillera Huayhuash à Huaraz à Lima à Miami and home

6/23/2006: Huaraz, Peru

 

Day

Trek

High Point

15,720 ft

16,600 ft

Ascent

2,774 ft

27,206 ft

Descent

3,240 ft

26,927 ft (missing 279 ft)

 

Rained off and on during the night and cloudy in the AM.  As we moved forward today the skies cleared and the views were incredible.  Today went over two passes in excess of 15,000 ft, Sambuya Punta and Rondoy Punta.  Had enough time to climb Minapata Peak on the way.

All day had views of Rondoy, Jirichanca and Yerupaja.  It is like they didn’t want to let us go.  It is amazing that you can hike through this mountainous land for over 100 miles and never lose your view of these peaks that rule the Huayhuash… or is the other way around.  Maybe they are watching us.

The nature of the mountains changed as we traversed north around the range.  There were still the spectacular glaciated peaks, but more color was thrown in from the rich stores of ore in the rock and soil.

Mexico Peak in the foreground with its rich stores of iron streaking the rock and coloring the soil.  Yerupaja in the background.

 

We literally ate our last morsel of food on the trek today, a few crackers and a couple of eggs, and had absolutely nothing left.  

Twelve days earlier we and our gear had been dumped off at Matacancha (or more accurately Quartelhuain) with arrangements to have a van pick us up today a couple of mile down the road from our first camp site.

Mo cresting the last hill at about 12,000 ft and heading to the valley below

 

As we crested the final hill and looked 2,000 ft down in to the valley below we could see a stream, a road and a tiny dark speck sitting along the road.  I got out my binoculars and sure enough there was our van on the spot and on time.  

Mo and Quique descending the last few hundred feet of our trek trough the 11,000 ft garden

 

There really wasn’t a trail to follow down so we just worked our way through drainages and around the beautiful wild flowers that strived at the 10,000-11,000 ft range.  A couple of hours later we landed on the road a few hundred feet from the van.

Back on the road and read to head back to “civilization”. LàR Me, Quique and Mo

 

Zack and Willie had taken another route down since our trail was not safe for the animals.  They had worked their way back to the village of Llamac where we picked up Zack and met some of his and Willie’s family.  From there it was a five hour drive back to Huaraz.

We arrived back in Huaraz about 7 PM and checked in to our new lodging, the Hotel Columbia.  We had not previously seen it, but Chris Benway had said it was a little more upscale and comfortable that what we had previously been and after almost two weeks of living in a tent that sounded like a good reward.

From the outside the Columbia was unimpressive to scary.  The block leading up to the hotel is lined with a pock marked ten foot wall covered with graffiti and topped with metal spikes.  The wall led to black cast iron gate that was pad locked from the inside opened in to a court yard with another large wall and solid looking door.  We rang the bell and thirty seconds later an attendant arrived and opened up the gate.  He led us through a nicely landscaped court yard to another wall and an eight foot solid wood door that allowed passage in to the inner sanctum of the Hotel Columbia.

The inner world was a world apart from the streets of Huaraz that we had just left.  The building were around 200 years old, but had been immaculately maintained.  There were cobble stone walkways that wandered through a forest of pine trees and trimmed hedges.  The hotel itself was a one block walled sanctuary in the middle of second world city.

Our room was comfortable with a large bed and inviting hot water shower.  Like all the other building in Huaraz there was no heat so a generous number of warm blankets were provided.  After a short rest and a long hot shower we walked through town to the Café Andino to meet with Chris and have dinner.  A great way to end an incredible trek!

 

6/27/2006: Lima Airport:

Missed a few days of winding down in Huaraz.  The remained of our time we spend visiting, shopping and eating.  The highlight was taking Quique, Zack, his wife and three kids to dinner at the Bistro.  We had brought a bunch of clothing along that we planned on leaving and Mo had gone through her jewley and knich nacks at home and found a bag full of costume jewelry that we planned to give away.  Mariela (Zack’s wife) and the three kids went crazy over the jewelry.  By the time dinner was over everyone was dressed in a new wardrobe and sparkling with gems.

The six hour bus ride back to Lima was very smooth and on time as always.  The view of the Cordillera as we left were stunning.  I know I’ll be back.  We dropped over 14,000 ft from the high pass at the Cordillera Negra to Lima.  I was able to get a better look at the transition of terrain and vegetation as we descended than on the trip up.  We passed from the glaciated peaks of the Cordillera Blanca to the rugged rocky slopes of the Cordillera Negra to the lush vegetation of the valleys and plains below.  We passed through the coastal desert with no name where the ocean of sand went as far as the eye could see.  The desert fell off in to the ocean with sand dune mountains dropping hundreds of feet to the Pacific Ocean surf below.  As we approached Lima the air became hazy and crumbling shacks appeared at the side of the road and off in to the desert.  Closer to town the shacks became a confluence of dwellings forming the massive slums of Lima.  

Lima has a reputation as a city of predators and thieves, but our experience has been that everyone we have met, from taxi drivers, to vendors to hotel workers, have been cheerful, kind and helpful.  In spite of the travel warning and cautions, we have had nothing but positive, at times inspirational, contacts with the people of Peru and particularly the Huaraz region.  Like the rural mountain people of India, the mountain people of Peru have shown me that simplicity and lack of material comfort are not inversely related to human spirit and generosity.

I plan on returning next year to explore more of Andes.

 

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