We had a day to recuperate and prepare for the hike to Salkantay. We did some shopping and packing and pure relaxing. We met our guide and the others coming on our trip in a pre trip meeting in the evening. It is always interesting to look back at first meetings once a trip is done. Now, I have so many insights into personalities and shared memories that the first introductions seem to come from a long time ago, and first impressions were validated or proved wrong.
Our start the next day was at 5:30am. We traveled by bus till a breakfast stop. This trip would be catered by our chef and assistant. We stop and they pull out all their implements, using a counter in a corner of a local shop and prepare our meals. We were to be wowed by the quality and quantity of dishes they prepared over the next 5 days. Back onto the bus/van to get us to our starting point. We were starting high in the Andes and trekking far the first day to make the following day more reasonable. We had a few ponies and donkeys with us to carry our gear. We
only carried our day packs, but that was enough. We were climbing up close to 1000 meters on switch back trail rising higher and higher till we were 45 minutes short of the Salkantay glacier. This landscape was more arid than the Huyro area since it is so much higher and colder. The mountains rose up higher and more rugged around us as we climbed. Climbing anywhere I find that I balance between focus on the surroundings and focus on the body and it's drive upwards. I had been worried that this trek would be too difficult for us. I had struggled with the climb up little Mt. Meru, how would I fare here? To my great joy, I found everything well within my capabilities. Jacob found this trek as easy as his climb in Tanzania. My work over the last 6 weeks had conditioned me well. Once again, the Andes took my breath away, this time literally, as well as figuratively. We were hiking in valleys with cattle and llama, We were hiking up steep rocky slopes. The mountains were rising closer around us. It was spectacular. We stopped for lunch in a valley, the ponies and cooks had
gone ahead, so when we arrived the lunch tent was set up and we had lemonade pressed into our hands. Also, we had cool water in bowls set out to wash with and then we sat down to eat. We were served a beautiful soup and garlic buns and I thought we were done, but platters kept coming out with salad and stews and more. Marvelous. Our break was not long so soon we were on our way again, with very full bellies. We were continually climbing this day, and our steps got slower as the day wound down. The light was incredible. The sunset hit the snow capped slopes of Salkantay and the world seemed to glow. Finally, we arrived at our camp site. The tents were set up. Hot tea was put into our hands. We had minutes before darkness to lay out our sleeping bags, and then we had popcorn and cookies to hold us until supper would be ready. It was cold at 4200 meters. We changed into toques and mitts with sweaters. Our first supper was filled with conversation allowing us to get to know each other. Lorraine from Ireland had been travelling with Sarah
from England for the last 9 months. Natasha was on her gap year from London and Aba was travelling on his off weeks from work in Yemen. It was an intimate group with just six clients and our guide. Mike stayed with us with meals and at all times, and was an important motivator for the group. He had a sarcastic sense of humour and an unfailing positive spirit. We would discover that he was incredibly good at his job, not only in keeping us safe and happy, but in sharing his knowledge of the Inca world. Night had fallen by the time we had snack and it was dark and cold. We would find our sleep in the tents a chilly experience. On leaving the supper tent, we looked up and saw the intensely bright path of the Milky Way shining above us. The thin atmosphere with no light pollution made for a spectacular display. It was early,but we were ready for bed. The intense upward hike had left us exhausted.
Good Night and Sweet Dreams
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