While we were hiking up Ramshorn this weekend Felicia reminded me that I’ve been slacking on my Peru posts. Not any more.
We started the day walking up the Yanama Valley. A mountain cara cara (hawk) flew overhead and lupines covered the sides of the valley. Short rock walls divided the land where people were harvesting potatoes. The harvesters built stone ovens in the fields to roast potatoes as they are picking them. Talk about fresh.
We passed a stone corral in which locals sacrifice a lamb or llama each year as an offering to Pachamama, or Mother Earth. While that is interesting to think about, I’m glad we weren’t there during the sacrifice.
As beautiful as the valley was with waterfalls spilling down the mountains, and a small glacier capping the valley’s end, we were all a little bummed to see a new road going in. Until now, the valley could only be reached by foot (human or horse/mule). Time had caught up to this idyllic spot and a few motorbikes are now crossing the 15,000-foot pass into the valley.
The road was ugly. It was an affront. We started to get a little worked up about it, but I have to remember that this isn’t my place. The road is a bummer for the tourist walking through, but the people of Yanama wanted the road. Who am I to say they should live in an isolated place where they have to carry everything in and out on their backs when I own a car, have electricity and plumbing, and can travel halfway across the world on a whim? I didn’t like seeing the road, but these people can’t base their decisions on what I want to see the one time I walk through. It might be bad for tourism, but we didn’t see any other trekkers the whole time we were out, so I don’t know how many people come through anyway. The road sucked, but the day was great.
The trail stayed below the main road, then criss-crossed the switchbacks as we turned and climbed toward Walla Pass. Kelli and I were chewing coca leaves hoping for an extra boost up the hill and we felt pretty good. Of course, this was my third day chewing big wads of (legal) leaves and the only day I felt like it was helping. No buzz, no boost, just the ability to keep walking up steep slopes with my heart trying to pound its way out of my chest.
We huffed and puffed under a hanging glacier, stopped to fill our bottles from a waterfall, and then suddenly we were at 4,600 meters or 15,091 feet. I felt great; it was my best day of hiking and I walked higher than I ever had before. I almost fist-pumped at the top, I was so psyched. (If you know me, you know I am not a fist-pumper. Nor a high-fiver. It’s just not how I roll–usually.) We took some photos in the wind and then headed down the other side. I was so filled with emotion (I don’t even know why, must be the Incan magic again. Or the coca.) that I almost started crying. I wasn’t the only one.
We had lunch 400 feet lower in a whole different ecosystem. The clouds came in and it was like we were on a little island. With a cook and good food.
We camped in another beautiful valley and I fell asleep to the sound of croaking frogs.
Plan your own trip
Are you reading along and thinking, “I want to go on a trip like this!”? Call my friend Felicia at Bella Treks, she’ll set you up. And it’s not just Peru, she goes all over South America, Morocco, Yellowstone, and a ton of other places.