August 24, 2012

There’s nothing like a 5am open-air truck ride to wake you up! We loaded ourselves and our supplies into the back of a livestock truck to take up the mountain to Soraypampa’s (“pampa” is Quechua for a flat viagra plain) Mountain Lodges

of Peru location. Along the drive we spotted our first glimpse of the glacier Salcantay, which we would be hiking. For those of us newcomers to the trip, our anxieties rose just a bit as we observed the sharp, snow-covered ridges covered in glinting snow seemingly miles above the nearest peak. We were assured that the trek was do-able, but we were cold from the wind and ready for breakfast by the time we arrived at the lodge. We were able to warm up a bit in the lodge and use the restrooms before we treated several of the horses at that location – just vaccinations and deworming. Our wonderful cooks set up their propane stove outside on the plain and we had breakfast and tea before loading our string of about20 pack animals.

The hike was gruesome at times mostly because of the altitude and the fact that many of us have been recovering from respiratory illnesses. One of our wonderful compadres from YANAPANA, Michele, gave us trekking tips to always look back at what we have already achieved, eat lots of snacks, and walk in pairs. Most of us agreed that the sights of the Andes around us were dizzying. Our hike was broken up by beautiful caves, lakes, free-roaming cows and horses, and spectacular views. We made it to the pass over Salcantay at 15,300 feet and began the almost just as laborious descent, but with altitude working for us this

time. We were lucky to also have two extra horses to use to ride or put our day packs on. All of us made it to the small plain of Huayrac in between 6-7.5 hours, of which we were all proud. Our tents were set up behind the MLP lodge before dark and we had a wonderful dinner – and tepitiado (a liquor of tea and pisco) to celebrate our adventurous spirits. We are all astounded at how well we are eating on this trip – the cooks are very resourceful and seem to know just what kind of nutrition we will need, including pasta before our big hike, 3-course meals with desserts to die for, and unique varieties of soup at the c0ldest parts of the trip.

Angie Gebhart and Dave Turoff

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