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Ben and Ange - On the Road

Carlos and the Frozen Boots

PERU | Wednesday, 6 August 2008 | Views [665] | Comments [1]

The Frozen Boots!

The Frozen Boots!

As we progress through Peru we enter the mountains once again. The lovely Cordillera Blanca to be precise. Housing some of the highest mountains in all of Peru it makes a lovely backdrop for some more hiking.

The town of Huaraz is the main focal point of all the climbing hiking activity and is filled with some of the best resturants and bars that we´ve come across. Pisco sours to die for. Parillas (grilled meat) that leave you stuffed full of steak and chicken and salad and red wine for 55 soles (20 dollars). And... wait this blog was meant to be about our hiking trip,, easy stomach.

The main hike that people do is called the Santa Cruz trek but being the people loving people that we are we went off the beaten track to another little one south of town. A three day hike from the town of Olleros over a 4700 metre pass and down to the town of Chavin.

So first step was to discard everthing that we didn´t need so as to make our packs nice and light. That done we then needed to store all our gear that we didn´t need. After getting the yes/no/yes/no from our hotel we managed to store our stuff in a deli across the road guraded by a lovely old lady. So with the prelims done we picked up our STILL HEAVY PACKS!! and caught the bus to Olleros.

We are well and truly away from the tourist trail now and as we pass each little village we are greeted with cautious stares but then friendly smiles and quick chats as we pass. The start of the trek is low hills and fairly easy going but towards the end of the day the mountains show themselves and the trail starts to climb. After about 6 hours of hiking we reach the first campsite,,,,and we keep on going. GRINGOS!! Other tourists!! How dare they!. All part of a package tour of course. So we skoff at them and keep walking up a little bit further to our own remote campsite.

After setting up our little tent we are greeted by a local lady bringing in her cows for the night. Using our new found language skills (cue Ange) we have a lovely little converstaion. It does make it that much more enjoyable when you can chat to the locals. Albeit a fairly simple conversation but still better than nodding and smiling. Time for dinner and genius here decides to fetch some water from the steam nearby and decides to take a shortcut across the grass. SPLOOSH!!! The grass gives way to a swamp!. Up to my ankles in water I splash back to the tent and change socks and into my sandals, cool look by the way!

The next morning our packs have ice on them, the ground is misty and my boots,,,,,,FROZEN SOLID!! Yep not going to be wearing them for a while. Fortunately once the sun peeked over the mountains things began to warm up pretty quickly. Soon steam was coming off my shoes! Packing up the tent along comes a gaucho with some donkeys. A few pigeon sentences later (Ange was in the tent and it was me talking) and it was revealed that the burros (donkeys) could be hired. DEAL!! So Carlos the burro was added to our team! As was the gaucho unfortunately, part of the deal i´m afraid. So with Carlos lugging our packs and me walking in socks and sandals we made our way up to the top of the pass.

We didn´t want to cheat completely so at the top of the pass we said goodbye to Carlos and his owner, took in the views, put on my boots!! and started to make our way down the pass. Up and down the pass some of the old Inca paths are still in use and are probably the better sections of the path itself.

At about 2pm we reached the second campsite and of course,,,, pushed on. Fate would teach us a cruel lesson this time though. As we were not to know at the time but from then on in it was all farms and villages or near vertical valleys. No places for camping at all!! On we trecked down the valley with a gorgeous river 50 meters below but getting no closer. Darkness has now set in but we have now been informed that Chavin (which was meant to be the third day stop) is now only half an hour away. Of course that being Peruvian time it actually ended up being over an hour away and down an incredibly steep slippery pass at that. But get there we did. We hobbled into town at about 7:30pm, over 10 hours trekking and promptly gorged ourselves on steak and then crashed to bed, only to be kept up by our aching legs.

The next day we took in the local ruins built by the Chavin people over 2500 years ago. IMPRESSIVE!! Compareable to Machu Pichu but without the overpriced tickets and hordes. The place is full of tunnels and marvelous sculptures.

From Chavin we caught the collectivo/bus to our next hiking spot, Huari. Huari has a beautiful lake sitting above it and hiking trails around and to the next village. The sides of the lake are bordered by rising moutains and the views are spectacular. As we arrive and start to have a little look around we notice a peculiar sound and little ripples on the lake. A little puzzled, all was revealed when a hailstone bounced off my hat. A novelty at first (this was our first precipitation in over a month) it then started to get harder before the ground was white in no time. Seeking cover in the rangers/tourist office we contemplated our next step. As the hail turned to rain we decided to try and set up the tent there and then before the ground got too wet. A few curses and wet pants later the tent was set up and back under cover we went. And down came the rain harder then ever. Oh dear! At this point the ranger guy has obviously had pity on us and let us stay in the refugio type accomodation which we eagerly accepted. Camping in style! The next day is still drizzling and after hanging around and admiring the views we come to the conclusion that our hiking will be ending here (a delfating mattress adding to the problems). So we cook a farewell lunch, much to the amusement of half a dozen locals who really loved our portable stove, and head back to town to catch a bus back home.

So a hiking trip that didn´t go all to plan but an enjoyable and memorable one none the less.




Fabulous ruins, and trust Ben to freeze his boots?? Ben the Dockers won the Derby and McManus has retired.
Dad and Sue fly out to Dubai on Friday and then on to Europe.
Keep having fun
Love your Sis.

  Fiona Aug 7, 2008 5:49 PM

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