I may not have competed in any Running races in the past 17 months i have however been on one hell of an adventure by bike. I have just completed my ride of 23,300k Taking me from North America through Central America & finally into South America where my dream destination of Patagonia was finally reached. I will never forget the Patagonian winds, they are real.
Along the way i have gone from beaches to the highest Volcanoes. I have encountered Deserts to Glaciers to the most dense intense jungles in the world. I have covered 15 countries including Peru that boasts 28 of the 32 worlds eco systems i am pretty sure i have seen most of them now.
Along the way i have climbed Acotnango??? the highest volcano in Central America, climbed to 6,000MTR on Volcano Chimborazo been on a 3 day trek around Volcano Ruiz ( solo self supported ) Hiked to Machu Pichu, Hiked one of the greatest hikes in the world the Huayhuash circuit Peru. 110km ( Solo, self-supported ) taking 5 days crossing multiple 4,000+ mtr passes & one 5,100mtr pass.
I have hiked up to Rainbow mountain Peru climbing to 5,400mtr???? I have also attempted to climb the second highest volcano in the world??? Ojos Del Salado from the Argentine side where there are no refugio`s or support within at least a 100km radius. There is no trail to follow to the summit & the chance of success is incredibly low due to the difficult terrain & weather conditions. Again this was self supported carrying enough food & fuel for 5 days. I was blown off the side of the volcano at 5,900-6,000mtr when a storm rolled in.
I have hiked around to see The Fitzroy mountain range & out to Glaciers & of course completed the 100km O circuit Torres Del Paine as a fast pack. Again being fully self-supported.
On all of these hikes & climbs my packing list goes like this - 33 Litre Osprey pack, La Sportiva Helios or Akasha trail runners, Sportiva tech top & shorts, Sportiva cap, OR Helium HD rain jacket, iO Merino thermal top, beanie & pants, Cooking stove, Fuel, Food, tent, sleeping bag & Exped roll mat. This is pretty much all i have carried in my panniers the entire journey.
For more detailed accounts on these hikes you can find my blogs & updates on my web page. It also has a number gear reviews as well as a lot of pictures ...
Keep on chasing the dream .......
It was a balmy -13c in Frisco, Colorado when we decided to go Fat-biking some beautiful single track. Matt had kindly loaned me his Fat-bike for this little excursion. Liz, Leigh & myself left the house around 8:30pm for a night ride in the woods. This was my first time on a Fat-bike & riding on snow.
What an interesting feeling. Very different riding. I quickly learnt that you cannot stray from the trail at all or you will sink, go over the bars and eat snow. The best idea is to find a well packed trail and follow it. Not being as skilled as the girls I was definitely bringing up the back of the pack.
It was a lot of fun to be out there and it required a lot of concentration to stay on the trail but that's the good thing about night riding, you tend to get tunnel vision when all you have is a headlamp to follow. The sound of the snow crunching and cracking under the weight of the wheels is amplified by the silence of the night. Another reason I love night time activities. Combined with the tunnel vision created by the headlamp, you feel as though you are the only one within a 100 mile radius.
Being a last minute decision to go ride nobody had had time to charge their headlamps so only a couple of miles in my headlamp began to blink, warning me it was on its way out..
As soon as I caught the girls who were waiting for me atop a small rise I told them my lamp was going flat, turns out both of theirs had started to blink also. What makes Fat-biking in the dark more fun you ask??? Your headlamp going flat......
We turned around cutting the ride short & hightailed it back to the trail head. Again bringing up the rear with the dogs I was left to watch the girls disappear into the dark as my headlamp finally gave up. I slowed down and could just make out the trail enough to get back to the trail head.
None the less we had had a fun blast on the bikes in the dark and cold. Thankfully I had my io merino keeping me warm again ( I was beginning to notice a trend, check out there gear by following the link http://iomerino.com ) We put the bikes in the garage and everyone went home with a big grin on their faces and plugged headlamps in to charge for the next Adventure :D
KEEP CHASING THE DREAM >>>>>>>>>>
A Very Overdue UPDATE!!!!!
Finally…...It`s been a long drive NORTH:
We started off in Flagstaff Arizona over 6 weeks ago. We have zig zagged through the US hitting all the great riding places and managing a few short runs and packrafts. We cruised into Canada on the best day of the year, Canada Day :) driving straight to Squamish to hit some serious trails. The mountain biking in Canada is the best riding i have ever done.
I remember riding in Whistler 2 years ago when i first set of on this trip never knowing where it would lead. Riding in British Colombia is STEEEEEP but man oh man its fun. We barely got through before some serious fires broke out behind us. I hope it is all under control now. This took me into the Yukon….
I don’t even know how to describe the Yukon. It’s BIG like really BIG. So much open space and beautiful countryside.
A potential place to revisit for sure and perhaps one day lay down some roots, all be it fiborous ones hahaha. We also paddled in the mighty Yukon river another thing I would like to revisit.
We had a very close encounter with a black bear cub. It was standing looking at us from about 5-6 metres away. We were on bikes and came to a sudden stop when we spotted it. After a quick survey of the surrounding area and not spotting mumma bear we continued on :)
Then it was into my dream destination of AK. Again not sure how to describe this part of the trip. All of a sudden it was Glaciers followed by Moose followed by Bears hahaha. The moose in AK are enormous. I have been told many times be more scared of them than bears hahaha. So we have seen about 17 bears now including 3 grizzly bears. About 5 moose plenty of eagles and other birds.
Follow the link for a detailed map of the drive :)
We drove into Palmer to visit a good friend of mine that I met while riding the Great divide all of those years ago. We got our first taste of what Alaskan mountains and backcountry can be like
Since then we have hit the glacier fed rivers at the literal end of the road in McCarthy. Another place I hope to revisit as a potential place to lay those fiborous roots ;) Stunning place to spend a few days taking white water rafting lessons in .5c temp water thank god I hired that dry suit :)
I am currently in Valdez ( google it ) another amazing mountainous town of about 4000 people so a large town compared to most. This is a quick update and I will do a more thorough one on a few areas soon :)
Keep chasing the DREAM.......
I arrived in Denver late Wednesday evening where Liz collected me from the airport. We went to her friend’s place to stay for a few nights where we cleaned & re-glued skins, waxed skis & collected the final essentials for living in the van in winter. After a few days in the sunny front range of Colorado it was time to hit the road.
We drove down the famous i70 headed towards a place called Butler Gulch. We stopped off for a couple of snacks to make tomorrow`s breakfast easy. Nothing quite like a service station burrito to start the day, served cold of course. We parked in the Butler/Jones Gulch car park right on dusk.
Snow was falling so we went for a short walk up the trail with Cody Oats World Traveler. Liz wanted to show me where we would be heading in the morning & also we needed to stretch the legs after a couple of days of inactivity. After a pretty warm night in the van we woke up to a number of cars in the carpark.
Liz taught me how to attach the skins to my skis & we were off. I had been looking forward to this for quite some time & was feeling pretty good about hitting the snow. I managed to stay upright as we climbed our way out of the carpark & onto a single skin track. My first thought was "wow these things are sticky & I can go uphill!”
We did a bit of climbing with intermittent stops to cool down a bit. After an hour or so we stopped to get my first lesson in avalanches. I learnt about pitch angles & things to be aware of. Runout zones, tree lines, concave/convex areas.
Then we continued up to a small almost summit. Right before we cleared the tree line we stopped and transitioned for the downhill. We put on our Buffs to prepare for the onslaught of wind and snow drift. Liz gave me brief instructions to follow her line and meet her once she stopped about 200mtr below me. I left my skins on to slow me down through this first stretch of deep powder. I made half of one turn before falling flat on my face & eating a lot of snow. Hahahhah It took me quite some time to get myself out of the hole, it`s a lot harder than it looks.
After I extricated myself I then had to extract all the snow from inside my jacket and under my Buff. I went down a few more meters before falling over again. "Oh well this is learning to ski after all.” Liz led down a few more stretches & I followed along in my bumbly hopeless fashion but slowly falling less & feeling like I had some idea of what was going on.
After the first & steepest part of the run, we decided to take my skins off. This made a huge difference as I now turned easier & glided nicely through the snow. I was also managing to somehow link a few turns & stay upright but man my feet & quads were hurting. I stopped a few times to rest before we hit a thin section of single track where I practiced my snow plow.
The familiar sound of ice under ski/snowboard was still as fresh in my mind from when I learnt to snowboard some 14 years ago. I haven't hit the slopes in over 8 years and never on skis but that sound strikes fear into you as soon as you hear it. I managed to stay upright as we went through a nice little rolling section on the way back to the van.
There was a short uphill where I learned to side step to the top, then it was a short ride to the bottom. I got a few more tips on how to use edges before finally getting back to the carpark at 3:30 pm. What a fun first day out. My quads and feet were pretty sore and I had only eaten it a few times & was feeling a little more steady on my feet.
Staring out the stern windows of the Spirit of Tasmania ferry on my Bass Strait crossing I wonder where my previous 5 weeks have gone. What a hectic time it has been. Returning home after almost 2 years away has presented a number of challenges.
Selling a house, changing banks, collecting papers for the ATO and doing taxes, let alone trying to meet up with friends and attend running events in the Victorian high country. I also managed to squeeze in a ride from Melbourne to Sydney over 12 days and 1,300km raising much needed money for Parkinson's research..
The feeling returning home was most definitely a mixed one. For me I was not quite ready to return but had to for those various reasons. That familiar feeling of not fitting in was alive and well.
I have experienced this feeling before upon my return from the middle east after travelling for an extended period, even after travelling around Australia for 2 years brought on the same feeling.
Suffering with Post Adventure Depression is always a struggle and I know it well. It does help to look to the future and plan future adventures but this time I really want to try soak in what I have just achieved.
You always get the "What's Next" question and I don't blame people for that, I guess it's part and parcel of the things I do. People get bored and most people cannot comprehend what it is that you have done so it's a good way to keep conversation moving. :) It`s a good thing I do these things to satisfy myself.
I am looking forward to getting to Tasmania where I can spend some time with my family and time in the true wilds of Australia reflecting on my 23,300km cycle trip.
On a side note, if you want an amazing wilderness experience, get down to Tasmania. I traveled all the way to Patagonia for what I thought would be wild and remote, and it was anything but. I should have saved the money and gone to Tassie hahaha
Call me if you want a tour guide ;)
I digress, I have tried to write this a number of times but always get side tracked. I am also unsure why I feel the need to write this but I figure it gives people an insight into what goes on inside my head after an all consuming Adventure.
Looking to the Future,
I am flying back to the US and making a road trip to Alaska; running, riding bikes and pack-rafting my way there. Blogging and taking pictures along the way to get people involved and hopefully inspire a few people to get outdoors and live life to the fullest.
I feel my goal in all of this has shifted. I just want to send the message to people that ANYONE can do it. "You can too" seems to fit in as a nice motto.
Along the way I will continue to raise money and awareness for Parkinson's research. I believe we CAN find a cure in our lifetime. This is a cause that is close to my heart and one that I believe in 100%.
In Alaska I have a long bike-pack, pack-raft expedition planned. This is probably going to be the most difficult expedition I will have ever undertaken due to the remote nature of Alaska. The trip will involve riding "trails," running a few summits, and rafting some inlets and possibly glaciers.
I am really excited about Alaska. It's so remote and untouched. I am thrilled to be able to go there and share my experiences with everyone else.
Whilst in Tasmania I have at least one short expedition planned. I am really excited to do something in my homeland once again and prove that you don't have to travel halfway around the world to have an amazing wilderness experience ....
Anyway I could ramble on all day but Just remember
YOU CAN TOO.....
Keep living the dream
P.S If you ever have any questions or want to say hi you can send me an email @ shanehut10@gmail or on FB messenger ;)
We managed to bluff our way through the Peruvian border when the border guards told us we were not supposed to be exiting there. After making our way through no man's land we came across the Bolivian border guard station. For Matt, being an American meant he had to pay a $160 visa. We decided this was too much for such a short time in Bolivia so we went around the guard station & straight into Bolivia.
Once we were far enough away we stopped to drink some soft drink & eat our snacks., looking over lake Titicaca. We continued to roll around Lake Titicaca. We had gained a great vantage point by climbing high on the road. Once we crossed one of the inlets by wooden ferry with a truck we knew we were safe from border patrol it was time to relax & see what Bolivia had to offer..
We decided to go around La Paz as it was not high on our to do list. Nothing there except a big city & we had just come from Cusco no need to rush back to a city. Bolivia was intriguing. There were houses, big houses but no people. The few shops we found generally had nothing in them. Dust & empty shelves. This is where our living on wafer biscuits & coke started.
The good thing about Bolivia was the ease of finding camping.. We camped in so many beautiful places. on the edge of Lake Titicaca, in the Atacama to the windy plains of Uyuni salt flats. We even managed to camp in a sheep herders shed with the sheep for a night.
We cycled some of the most quiet picturesque roads I have ever encountered. All you need to do is stay off the one paved road in Bolivia. We found a back way onto the Uyuni salt plains to avoid all the vehicles & Uyuni town site itself. No need to get involved with the hundreds of jeeps making the same trip across.
The crunching & cracking sounds the salt made was such an experience. It was really a world of its own. We cycled the 50km out to the island that I never knew existed & camped in the lee side of the wind.... The star filled sky was incredible but it was sooooo cold out of the tent that you couldn`t stand out there for too long.
We crossed over the salt plains the next day & onto what would be the hardest 300km of the entire 23,300km ride. We got onto what is called the Lagunas Route. It folows a bunch of Lagunas ( lakes ) across the Altiplano ( above 4,000mtr ) of Bolivia. It was tough going from the start.
Soft sand, deep ruts & a brutal headwind restricted us to around 45km per day. We would start riding as soon as we could in the morning around 7:30am when the sun had thawed out the tent & our bikes. We would ride for a while before being hit by the headwinds then we would continue on into it until 3pm.
Matt had to push his bike a lot as he had skinny tires on & all of his weight was loaded onto the front of the bike, meaning he would just sink into the ruts & go nowhere. It was a spectacular route, at one point i counted 14 volcanoes surrounding us. There were Flamingos in every lake & we managed most nights to find incredible places to camp. I would recommend this route to anyone who wants a challenge & to experince some of the most spectacular scenery South America has to offer.
After 5 days on the route we were faced with our final obstacle, the Bolivian border & Chilean entry. We decided to push our bikes through deep sand over almost a 4,800mtr pass to skirt the border. It took 4 hours or more of just pushing hahaha what a challenge. At that point we were weighing up if it was worth the money. We finally hit the pavement & final descent into Chile.
We were hoping for a solid ride into Chile down a huge 40-odd km descent but no, of course not. There was a big headwind reducing me to 60km/hr no matter how hard I pedaled, somewhat frustrating.
We finally rolled into the town of San Pedro De Atacama at 8:30pm. The border guard had Bob Marley playing, asked where we had come from and didn`t even look at our passports -- he just stamped them. WOW we got lucky. We somehow managed to roll into town on the Chilean independence day, meaning it was a 4 day weekend with a lot of partying going on.
it's the endless fatigue
The sleepless nights
The unkept hair
The miles upon miles of asphalt
The new friends
The star filled nights
The parting of friends
The ever changing landscapes
The constant exploring
But man I wouldn't change it.
Now I have finally entered my dream destination Patagonia. 20,000+km cycling & 15months. I really want people to know that ANYTHING is possible.
As some of you know & some of you don't I have a great friend with Parkinson's & I believe WE can find a cure in his lifetime because ANYTHING is possible. So if you have enjoyed following my trip I want you to donate. Please follow the link to donate to Shake It Up. All donations are tax deductible & 100% goes into finding a cure.
I am sitting here finally having made PATAGONIA. My dream destination for the last 5 years. To use the word surreal would not do it justice.
I have however realised I have not blogged since the middle of Peru. Here are the excuses- no internet, very poor internet, I have done an insane amount of crazy things which I need time to digest, I am being lazy :) I have also lost all my pictures from Uyuni, The Lagunas Route, & Ojos.
My good friend Michael has just joined me flying all the way from AUS, Of course he has waited until the absolute highlight to come across & cycle with me some 2,500km.
I don't even know where to begin so let's start where I left off. I was in Cusco for one month hanging out waiting for my friend Matt to finish working. Whilst there i did the obligatory trip to Machu Picchu which i must say was a totally amazing experience. I was toying with the idea of not actually visiting the site due to the huge numbers of tourists that go & the fact i am not that big into ruins but i am glad i did.
I took a bus there as it was more economical than riding my bike for 4 days. I made some great friends on the bus who i went out with the night before the trek up to Machu. We may or may not have been up until 2am drinking far too many Pisco sours & everything else but man it was fun, not so fun getting up at 3.30am. The walk up the stairs in the morning was not as difficult as everyone makes out of course i decided to make it a race.
I was up there like everyone else for the sunrise but managed to find a quiet place away from the standard view point & get some nice pictures. The place was shrouded in cloud but that made it all the more special. I wandered around the site itself for 3 hours staying one step ahead of the hordes of people.
The scale of the place itself was quite unbelievable. It`s huge really huge i was very surprised by this. Feeling well & truly done after 3 hours Jason & i headed on down. On the 10km trek back to the bus terminal we found a nice spot in the river to go for a swim. It was the first time it had been warm enough to go for a swim in about 4 months so that was nice.
I also did 10 hours of Spanish lessons in Cusco at a small Spanish school so that was fun. I did feel it helped me understand a bit more but as per usual when you change country the Spanish changes a bit so i feel like i am almost starting over every time hahah. After a month of hanging out it was time to hit the road. Matt & i decided a little while back that we would cycle Bolivia together as we were planning on going pretty remote.
We cycled for 3 days before reaching the final thing to visit in Peru,
Up at 6:30 managed to find a ride the 35km up to the junction where rainbow trek starts. We arrived at 8:30. There were a tonne of buses already there.
We started our 8km hike. Beautiful blue skies again and not too warm. We hiked the first 4km before coming over a ridge line and spotting the 200+ tourists
The valley was incredible. Super wide with mount Ausangate off to our right. The huge glaciated summit glistened in the morning light. So beautiful.
We caught the first group of tourists pretty quick & began making our way through the hoards of people. There were plenty of people on horses & walking extremely slow.
The trek took us up to around 5200mtr above sea level. We got to the main saddle with the first 50 people.
We hiked up the last 200mtr climb to get the obligatory picture of the coloured mountain. It was incredibly colourful but I think Ausangate & the surrounding mountain range was much more impressive.
We decided to hike down the valley running parallel to the major route just too avoid the people. We managed to hitch a ride back to town straight away, so that was handy.
After another very average sleep on my wooden boards - aka bed & some guy revving the life out of his tuk tuk at 4am we were packed & out by 8am.
We cycled through the valley continuing to climb ever so steadily. The valley was wide open grasslands some cattle & a lot of eucalyptus.
Apart from being above 3500mtr it was similar to some of the mountains areas of home. We rode 18km to a small pueblo before stopping for breakfast.
We got some pan & queso. Then ordered a coffee from the restaurant next door. We sat on the curb eating & drinking & just enjoying the sun.
After breakfast we continued with the steady climb until a pretty big town called Sicuani. It was a Saturday morning so we rolled through the organised chaos of the markets.
Something about the chaos that a market brings is something I enjoy a lot. The sights & smells are always different. We got on the other side of the town before stopping to get some snacks.
We caught up to a Russian cyclist who I met back in Cusco. After a brief chat we left him. We cycled past some incredible colonial buildings. All of which happened to be built along the now long defunct railway line. Very random to see.
We finished climbing at 4065mtr right at Aguas Calientes. We paid the 5 soles & soaked in a private hot pool for an hour and a half.
When we came out the Russian guy was here & another cycle tourist. A solo female from Japan. We asked about camping in the hot springs and in typical Peruvian fashion they didn't really care.
Matt & I went into a building with a hot pool. Cooked a good pasta dinner & rolled our mats out. Security came over & he didn't care either.
The others are sleeping outside in tents in the rain, wind & freezing cold.
28-8-16. 115km 570mtr. Aguas - Pucara.
Not a bad nights sleep. We were up at 6. Packed up & waited for the sun to hit the road.
We could see out the window from the bath house. There was a beautiful dusting of snow on the mountains. The steam rising from the hot pools & the sun slowly making its way down the valley walls was beautiful.
Once the sun hit we left. Stopping to say a quick goodbye to the others. We were on the road by 7:30. Still pretty fresh but we had a nice steady climb of around 250mtr over the pass.
We cycled up the road enjoying the usual Sunday morning no traffic situation. We stopped a few times to take pictures as the valley was just stunning.
There were mountains a few km off to the left that made you feel like you were in the Rockies again. On the right were rolling hills reaching well over 4500mtr.
The open grass valley was just spectacular with its golden brown grasses glistening in the sun. We crossed the pass after 10km of steady climbing 4338mtr.
As we crested the summit the valley stretched out below again in the stunning form that makes you feel like you are in Montana or Wyoming.
A quick descent of 20km saw us into a small pueblo in search of some breakfast. The Sunday market was just setting up with the usual, shoes, trinkets , household goods & woven clothes.
We found a small place that was selling alpaca with rice a potato & coffee. After chilling out for a solid 40min we hit the road.
The valley was just breathtaking. So wide & vast with farmers trying to eeeek out an existence at such a high altitude where nothing really grows.
We came across a small Laguna with a flock of Flamingos in it. So cool first time for me to see Flamingos. After stopping & taking a million pictures we were back on the road.
We had a nice soft tail wind pushing us along the barely noticeable descent. The road was fantastic & in pretty good shape with little traffic.
Of course the bus drivers always like to buzz you even if they have both lanes. We had a few get very close & of course blast their horns all the way past you.
We rolled into a pueblo at 1 for some lunch. This place had a nice chicken shop so it was a pretty tasty chicken & chips. After an hour at lunch it was back on the road with only 35km to go.
We hit the road & the tail wind had picked up. We were cruising between 35-40km an hour. The first 15k flew by. The road was fairly straight & the valley was getting more incredible as the day wore on.
At this stage it had opened up to be at least 20km across. With big hills on either side. We spotted Pucara from 3k away.
As we rolled in we stopped at the Iglesia. It was gorgeous built in 1760. Made from a beautiful red stone. The backdrop was a very large cliff that looked at lot like mount arapiles.
After a short stop we grabbed some supplies for dinner & began heading out of town. The wind had changed direction & picked up considerably it was now a killer head wind.
We found an empty abandoned building with no roof about 3km out of town. The wind was ripping through. This is the beginning of the wind that we will encounter being in the Altiplano.
We were done by 3:30. Set up our tents to try get out of the wind.
We followed lake Titicaca out of town.
It is quite unimaginable how big this lake is. They have their own navy to protect the border. It's a LAKE.
The lake is huge with so many trout farms on it. We could see a snow covered mountain on the other side of the lake all day.
It's really bizarre to be looking at this huge lake & realise we are almost 4,000mtr above sea level. We rolled into a small town after 30km for an ice cream.
The road is flat & straight with the occasional hill. The wind was mostly a cross wind but did tend to change to head and tail throughout the day.
We rolled into a big town called Juli. Found somewhere for lunch. We continued along the lake before turning inland a little.
We came across another bike tourer from Buenos Aires. He was towing a bob trailer & gave us some good info.
We stopped off in another pueblo at 85km for a Coke and ice cream then quietly rolled the last 20k. We stopped in Pomata for some onion & tomato to go with our tuna and mash.
We rolled back down the hill & found a great camp spot on the lake behind a new stadium they are building. Dinner & dishes done by 6:30.
It's already 7.c & dropping fast. Matt & I are sharing a tent to try be warmer. The stars tonight are so amazing.
I sat out of the tent for about 15min just staring at the stars. So nice to see the southern cross and Milky Way.
It's the most stars I have seen in quite some time. It's stunning
1-9-16 100km. Crossed into Bolivia.
KEEP LIVING THE DREAM
After sitting admiring the view of the glaciers for about an hour it was time to get out of there. We still had a long way down & were still unsure if we could get through without crampons & ice axes :)
We dropped down right next to the glacier on some scree & rock. It looked as long as we stayed off to the far side of the glacier we should be able to get to camp. This was also the first time I started to pee blood. For more on that story see my previous blog
We picked our way down the rocky outcrops jumping from one rock to another. Seeking out the path of least resistance. We could see the camp site waaaaay down on the valley floor. The sun was slowly dropping lower & lower easing its way behind the giant mountains.
After many hours of descent & skimming along the glaciers we finally made it to camp Cutatambo. There was a group of about 17 there but again there was enough space we didn't need to be anywhere near them.
19- 7-16. Cutatambo - Huaiq camp 21km the huallabamba day
It was a pretty cold night again & I woke up to find my Nalgene water bottle frozen again. I packed my stuff up & dried my tent out in the sun. I was not in a huge rush as this mornings first 15k or so was all down hill through a gorgeous valley.
The glacier melt started off as a small stream & as you followed it down it turned into a raging river. I stopped many times to admire the river & views.
There were giant cliffs both sides as I continued down with the river twisting & turning through the weakest points to create its own lines.
I passed through the gate into the small pueblo Huallabamaba just as Jeff & Ross caught me. They had run down the valley haha. After some searching through the village we found a tiny hole in the wall to buy some lunch & have a beer. The Belgians arrived & had the same.
After 2 large beers & lunch it was time to start the big climb back out of the village. We followed a river quietly meandering it's way back up to another pass. I dropped the boys about halfway up & pushed on solo content as always with my own company.
I climbed about 1,000mtr vertically before rounding one last bend to find a beautiful flat piece of ground for tonight's camp. There was the Italian group already set up with all their yellow tents with an incredible backdrop of different glaciated peaks & a small stream running through the camp.
I quickly changed & set up as the sun was going down fast. I cooked dinner & the boys showed up then the Belgians.
20-7-16 Huaiq - Jahucoucho
Left camp at 9ish. Another perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky. The mornings are hard though because it's sooooooo cold. I had a pretty cold night as well.
There were icicles in the river it was so cold. The campsite was spectacular though. I caught the Belgians pretty quick then was on my own, ( they had left early )
It was so quiet all I could hear was the ringing in my ears haha. I climbed the first pass before taking a break in the sun. I was also trying not to catch the group of 15 Italians.
I had probably half hour before setting off again. My back is very sore today. ( I learnt this is a symptom of the kidney infection ) I caught the Italians about 20min later. They gave me a chocolate bar & some chocolate biscuits. After a 10min chat I headed off.
I dropped down into a very basic campground & said hello to the workers that were with the Italian group. I climbed a small hill then dropped into a HUGE valley.
It was a total different landscape again. There were Cactus, small shrubs even a few trees. Haven't seen many trees along this route. I guess it is mostly above 4,000mtr
I crossed a small stream & started on the next pass. It was a wide open plain again & when the sun was out it was hot. In total contrast if the wind blew it was freezing haha bloody mountains
The climb was pretty long but I was surrounded by tussock grass that waved gently in the wind. Again another spectacular spot.
There were a few switch backs before crossing a scree field. There were also a couple of condors flying around overhead.
I reached the pass & was rewarded with the final show piece of the trek. It was a full view of the mountains.
The trail snakes it's way along the ridge line ending with a final very steep descent to the Lagunas off in the distance.
The colours were breathtaking. Everything from pinks & purples to amazing shades of grey of course all in the shadows of the glaciated peaks towering above.
Absolutely Incredible. After taking another 100 pics & detouring off the trail to reach the highest point I started the descent to camp.
The camp sat on a grass covered flat area between 2 of the Lagunas. It was the lowest camp of all at a mere 4,090 metres above sea level.
Lucky for me I had rolled in around 2:30. With plenty of sunshine still left in the day I wandered down stream to a smaller lake to do some washing.
Nothing like washing socks and body after 5 days of trekking. The water was a fantastic in your face translucent blue. Of course it was absolutely freezing being glacier melt.
I hung my socks on the guy lines of my tent & prayed they would be dry before the sun disappeared behind the mountains.
Just on dusk after I had cooked, cleaned & climbed into my sleeping bag the Belgians arrived. They had had an epic day. Shortly after the boys arrives in the dark having gone off route in the final 5km.
The next morning I headed out with the boys for the final 15-20 odd km. We were in a bit of a hurry to get to the 1 bus that leaves for Chiquain. I needed to see a Dr & find out what was going on.
We we raced through the beautiful gorge that was now resembling parts of Australia. Dry, hot with spikey plants everywhere. It was another stunning part of the trail.
We we got to the bus with 20minutes to spare :)
Do yourself a favour, if you ever get to Peru DO THIS HIKE. It is an absolute must. It was as good as, possibly better than the treks I have done in Nepal.
I am an ultra runner, Mountain biker, Climber, Ironman, Endurance Athlete