Thursday, July 30, 2009

Let’s make like a llama and hike!

July 27 – Let’s make like a llama and hike!
Blog written by Hannah Dunsirn, Menasha, WI

This morning we woke up at 5:00 a.m. to get ready for our big hike through the Andes. The brisk morning coupled with the high altitude made for a challenging start, however on the plus side, after four days of rain we were lucky to find the sun smiling at us. The hike was tough but we were fortunate to have six horses to help us out along the way. We began in the village of Patacancha and walked up through arid mountains spotted with llamas and alpacas and the occasional stone and straw village. Our lunch consisted of sandwiches and a stunning view of a high alpine lake. When reaching the top of Ipsakaya Pass we were greeted with snow at our feet. We can now say that we have experienced snow in July. With the high altitude, we were out of breath when we arrived at the top of the Pass at just under 15,000 ft! The rest of the trail down the mountain went quickly, we were all quite proud of ourselves for finishing the 7-hour trek.

Our bus picked us up in a small town called Wakawasi. From there we took an hour and a half drive to Lares. In Lares we set up camp at a set of natural hot springs. As soon as we set up camp we relaxed our tired muscles in the warm pools of water that lay within feet of our tents. After heating up in the hot springs we made noodles, beans, and rice. It was the perfect way to end the long journey.

Walking through the hills at the beginning of our hike
Photo by Felix Jordan from Cologne, Germany

The group taking a break to catch their breath in the high altitude
Photo by Felix Jordan

Llama lookout
Photo by Felix Jordan

Our guide and local contact, Miguel, taking a well deserved break
Photo by Felix Jordan

Traditional meets modern…
Photo by expedition leader Jordan Gantz

Summit shot! Celebrating everyone making it to 15,000 feet.
Photo by expedition leader Jordan Gantz