27 October 2012

Days 5 & 6 - The trek begins

A decent amount of acclimatising days behind us, it was time to say goodbye to Cusco and hello to the great outdoors. We were up at 5am and in the van driving away by 6! Our van trundled slowly but surely up and out of the city en route to our starting point some three hours away by car. We chugged back and forth along dramatic switchbacks edging closer and closer to the cusp of the Andes ridge before cruising back down into the next valley. Our Maestro repeated this exercise several more times as our eyes remained glued on the spectacular scenery all around us.

Before long we were on foot, day packs full of supplies, shoe laces tied tight, and waterproof jackets zipped all the way up. It was misty, foggy, and all quite mysterious. Even though we were already at 3600 metres, the mountains all around us reached far further toward the sky. Nikki remarked at how incredibly small you feel when surrounded by such massive nature in every direction!

For the next four hours we walked up and down and along and around, dodging alpacas, hopping over streams, and doing our best to stay dry even as the cold rain and wind intensified. We reached the van absolutely puffed as the last hour was entirely uphill on bouncy, slippery, neon green moss.

From here it was a short drive to camp, where we devoured our lunch and grabbed our swimmers before reboarding the van, cranking up some serious tunes, and cruising deep into the valley once more to the Lares hot springs.

My goodness did we indulge, relaxing our muscles and repairing the day's damage in piping hot natural pools of sulfur-tastic water. It was exhilarating and the perfect way to end our first day.

Sleep came easy, as the entire group was just so darn tired! We woke up feeling incredibly refreshed and after breakfast, had the wonderful opportunity of doing full introductions with our local team. They went first then invited us to share about ourselves. As this is a Latin American country, the bits of information our crew were most interested in included our age and our marital status. This went mostly well save for L.J., who said to them "yo soy sultana." The crew burst into laughter as "yo soy sultana" means "I am a raisin." What she meant to say was "yo soy soltado," which means " I am single."

Today's trek was tough. We ascended to 4400 metres in a matter of hours, following an amazing trail through lamb farms and alpaca fields that opened to incredible vistas. The views were completely unobstructed, stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction. We reached the top of the range just as a massive storm rolled in from the other side of the valley!

The lightning struck and within seconds the thunder roared just as the skies opened, hurtling hail stones down upon us! There was nowhere to hide, which meant we just kept walking back down into the valley. The wind picked up and the hail turned to rain, soaking us right through from head to toe. This massive weather event followed us for most of the afternoon and when it finally cleared to let the sunshine through, it went from cold to hot in a matter of minutes, instantly drying our clothes and thawing us out.

We reached our lunch spot after 5 and a half hours of walking and my goodness did it feel good to sit down! After what was another delectable meal full of witty banter courtesy of LJ, Emma, and Nick (definitely not Nikki, as she is not funny) some of us hopped in the van while a second group continued to trek onward and upward, heading over another range before descending into camp and truly rocking this Inspired Adventure.

It's an early dinner and early to bed for us, as tomorrow is yet another MEGA day!

Go team!



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