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Published: September 3rd 2015
It had rained hard last night and I knew how hard it was because I had to make a run to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Over breakfast Puma told us how rare this was but everyone would be pushing through anyway. I told Puma I was opting for the horse because I was still having trouble with the altitude. The horse would cost 100 Soles and would take me to the top of the pass and I would hike the rest of the way. An American couple was in the same tent as me and was taking the horse because they had only gotten to Cuzco the day before yesterday.
The horse or more precisely the mule was waiting at the start of the trail. It was a skittish animal and promptly threw me when I got on the first time. I was a bit bruised on my lower back but I got back up. This time they covered the eyes and ears of the horse and I got on this time. I didn't get to control the horse it was led bed the mule tender. We join a line of other mules and horses. Besides myself there were about 20 other people taking a horse. I will say it was not a pleasant ride on that horse. It was quite cold and I was more or less frozen to the horse. The pass was snowing and this was quite rare for August in this area. I steadily passed other people as we went uphill. I recognized quite a few people and I will say the looks I was getting was a mixture of jealousy and hatred.
I watched others hike the mountain and their were a lot of people having trouble. A few people were laying own down on the side of the trail and one was being given oxygen. I honestly wished I had tried the hike myself. The problem if you have trouble halfway up the mountain there may not be a horse available to get you the rest of the way up. Hiking up the mountain takes about 2.5 to 3 hours but the horse got me up in about 1.5 hours. I saw the sign at the top saying 4600 meters which was the highest point of this hike. My tour leader was there waiting for me a the top as I dismounted. I got my backpack and my walking poles and started walking down.
The hike down is almost as bad as the hike up. The rain and snow had turned the trail into a mud soup. I made my way down as fast as I could while staying upright. Even with my water proof hiking boots the mud and water still penetrated it so my feet were filthy after a short time. I found that as long as you keep moving you stay warm. I was doing pretty well until halfway down the mountain when I finally slipped and skidded in the mud. I wasn't hurt so I kept going. It took about 3 hours to reach the lunch spot where I met up with Robert who had gotten there a little while before me. We ate lunch that was prepared by our cook. It was an impressive meal that he was able to cook in just a tent in the rain. We actually had horsemeat which tasted kinda funny but was entirely edible.
Before we started hiking again I decided to make an adjustment. My shoulder was killing me because I had hurt both shoulders the previous day carrying my day bag without stretching beforehand. I decided to ditch the day bag and just store my essentials in my jacket. I carried water, bug spray and some snacks. After putting on my rain poncho I was ready to hit the trail again. Without the day bag I was making really good time as well. The route was entirely downhill and very muddy. It was not easy and some of the spots were dangerous but with the walking poles it was doable. We also had to dodge a lot of mule crap along the way. It was another 2.5 hours to reach our stop for the night which was Colcapampa. This is another small village that has more less been converted for a campground for hikers. We had an upstairs camp spot this time and that is where our tent was. We ran into the Swiss group here as well. They had used a horse to get there equipment over the pass. I was glad we had an actual roof along with the tent because it was raining pretty hard. As we ate dinner we watched groups come in. It got dark fairly quickly and the last few groups had to come in with headlamps. Puma told us some history of the Incas and before too late we went to bed. I switched to clean socks to sleep and hoped tomorrow it wouldn't rain tomorrow.
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