I hope you've enjoyed reading about our recent trip to Peru. You can read previous posts HERE and HERE if you have not yet and want to catch up.
Also, I've posted more pictures to my Peru set on Flickr that correspond to this new post. See them and previous pictures HERE.
TREKKING IN THE ANDES - PART II
Waking up after a good night sleep, we knew that today held a loop hike up to and returning from the Humantay glacial lake. Essentially, this was another acclimation day, but the hike would prove a challenge none the less.
As we strolled around the side of the lodge, we exited the shade and entered the brilliant Andean sun and bathed in the spectacular view of both the Salkantay and Humantay peaks. Walking in front of the lodge, several llamas grazed. A few jerked their heads up to see just who was ambling by. Satisfied that we were not a threat, they each went back to their gentle business.
And with that, the day's hike commenced in earnest. The first part consisted of a slow rise away from the lodge and up past some rock-built huts that some locals lived in. Soon were swung to the left and started a consistent uphill section that took us along a small river valley and provided us views of the meadows on either side. Horses, cows, bulls and a few condors soaring majestically overhead provided interesting distractions as we huffed and puffed our way up. Our occasional stops for water and to catch our breath offered ample opportunity to take in the view, see the details of the landscape and really enjoy our surroundings.
Over the course of the next hour or so, the meadow-y terrain gave way to more rocky and alpine surroundings. Eventually we came to a roaring stream cascading over a series of rocks as the water rushed away from the glacier above and down, down, down. Our trail skirted this feature and once we were up and around it we came to an open spot in the valley that revealed a spectacular view of the impressive Humantay Mountain. Time for another break.
After that respite, the group turned its attention to the final push up the next ridge and to the lake. After a while, the steep incline started to flatten out such that we found ourselves again in a wide flat spot, but this time Humantay was even more directly ahead and over us. A few paces later, and we could see the first glimpse of the turquoise blue waters of Lake Humantay. Next we had hiked down from the ridge and to the shore of the lake. I could write quite a bit about this, but you know...nothing does this place justice more than just seeing it. So, here you go...
|Descending from Humantay Lake|
Hot Tub, Cocktails and Offerings
Arriving back to the lodge about 2 p.m., our group was offered a choice - take the rest of the afternoon off or go on a horseback ride. Most of us opted to clean up, rest up and take a dip in the hot tub. A few more hardy souls among us decided to ride the horses. We were in the former group. Hitting the water at dusk, we were joined by some of or own group members and a couple from another tour group. Situated in front of the lodge with a HUGE view of Mount Salkantay, we enjoyed the conversation and a nice glass of Peruvian red wine. OK, here's my review of the wine: Was it the best red wine we'd ever had? No. Was it much better than expected? Yes. Were we sitting in a hot tub in the Andes looking at a majestic mountain at dusk...drinking a nice red wine? Heck yeah! Big thumbs up. The only problem was that once the sun goes down up there at 12,000 feet, it's COLD! We scampered into the building and right to a hot shower.
Later, the group gathered for dinner and then two additional fun activities. First, we learned how to make the national drink of Peru, the Pisco Sour. The bartender asked for volunteers, and when everybody hesitated for an uncomfortably long interval, Diane jumped in and said she'd do it. After donning a Peruvian knit hat and a bartender's apron, she was shown to all our benefit how to create the drink. It's pretty simple: 3 parts Pisco, 2 parts lime juice, 1 part simple syrup and 1 egg white...put it all in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. You then pour it into a glass and add 2-3 dashes of bitters. Done and ready
|Miguel Performs the Offering|
Getting to 15,000 Feet: Salkantay Pass
Arising early, we again filled up on hot, fresh breakfast and saddled up for the big push up to 15,000 feet at Salkantay Pass. Leaving the lodge for the last time, we said our goodbyes to the nice staff and, a few minutes later, as we walked away from the building we bid adieu to the llamas patrolling the front "yard." The first 10-15 minutes of today's hike were the same as the day before. However, we then veered right and up and adjacent valley...the one leading to the pass. I'd say that no one part of the hike was super steep or daunting on its own. Diane and I have hiked much steeper trails around the Cascade foothills near Seattle. However, two things differentiated this (and other) alpine hikes in Peru: 1) The altitude. The thin air quite simply makes inclines that at sea level would be no problem, difficult. 2) The view. Just not like anywhere else. In fact, check out a couple shots I took along the way up to the pass...
|Trail to Salkantay Pass|
Check out these pictures from the pass....
|Prayer rocks at 15,000 feet|
Resting over, we moved on along the last segment of the hike for the day, culminating in our arrival at the second lodge of the trek. Now, if you've just spent an entire day hiking up to and down from 15,000 feet, what's perhaps the first thing you going to want to do? Maybe...take a shower? Right. Well, upon arrival at the otherwise very nice lodge, we learned that, well, the hot water heater wasn't working. What! Right. We were told that they'd fix it and tell us when it was working. In the meantime, what were we to do? Hit the bar. That's right. Hit the bar. Or, at least after a cursory face wash and change of clothes. Settled into the lobby lounge with some ice cold beers, we were soon approached by one of our fellow trekkers, Josh, who suggested we play Scrabble. We did. Hilarity ensued. Eventually the hot water heater was fixed, and we retired our room to get clean and rest up some before dinner. As we did, darkness fell and the beautiful view out our window turned to black. We gathered for dinner, but didn't eat until we received another well presented session on Inca religion and festivals from Miguel. That's one of the things that's great about a tour like this...you learn new things all the time as you make your way day to day. And then we ate.
And that was pretty much it for that day. Get up early, hike to 15,000 feet, eat lunch on the mountain and get to the lodge. Done and dusted. We were zonked and turned in early.
Check back in a week or so for the next installment of this series where I'll get us all the way to Machu Picchu and back to Cusco - along with more pictures of course.
NOTE: All pictures in this post were taken by or belong to Marc Osborn. No use of these pictures of any type is permitted without permission from Marc Osborn.