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.
After 2 hours on the pass I finally started my descent down the goat track with many tight switchbacks. I caught the Belgians pretty quick. They were sitting having a snack. I decided to join them.
They gave me a bag of dehydrated fruit & nuts & a pack of sultana biscuits. We discussed the map before I headed on.
I took the alpine circuit again & was really enjoying my afternoon. I had managed to walk the entire day solo. It had been one of the most spectacular days on ANY trail I have ever hiked.
I crossed a small glacier fed stream as I entered the Huayhuash camp. I sat in the sun for a while before deciding on a place to put my tent. I set it up far away from the group.
A few from the group came to visit & chat. Everyone intrigued at how I could get 5 days worth of stuff in my 30 litre pack.
The Belgians arrived & set up near by & then Ross & Jeff. I cooked a killer pasta dinner with onion & salami in the shadow of the Huayhuash range. Soooooooo good.
Wow I have no words to describe today.
I am really struggling to summarise today. I want to paint a clear picture. It was unreal. I set off at 9 with the boys as they didn't have a proper map & we thought it would be easier to route find together.
We were taking the alpine route again. All the directions were about how hard it was too find blah blah blah.
It was a climb straight out of the gates. Again nothing too serious. We passed a small family on horseback shifting cattle. We crested the first climb & continued in the general direction of the pass.
The valley was beginning to open up behind us as we climbed higher. Again there was no trail it was a wide open area with all sorts of grasses growing.
We got to the top of the first ridge & in the distance we could see the pass. It was a nice flat approach with Mount Trapecio towering high above us. It had a huge glacier on it.
We crossed the flat lands hopping between pockets of water trapped between weird & wonderful sponge formations. The flora was incredibly diverse & colourful.
We spotted the Belgians half way up the pass but decided they had taken an indirect route. We opted for the weakness in the mountain & were rewarded with an actual trail.
I powered my way up the climb as we all know by now I like climbing & I kinda wanted to beat the Belgians :) I got to the top of the false pass & waited for the boys.
I had beaten the Belgians & when they spotted me waving to them they came over. We had a brief chat before they continued up. It was by now a real lunar landscape.
Red & grey scree everywhere with very little vegetation. The boys arrived we had a chat before heading on. We continued climbing & hit out first token patch of snow.
I caught the Belgians again just before the top & continued on to the moraine lakes sitting at a lazy 4900 metres. I put my pack down & began to wander in between them
There must if been a dozen. All fed from the glacier about 200 metres away at this stage. The colour of the water was amazing. Crystal clear but somehow this luminescent blue.
You could see the sponge growing under the water in all these weird and wonderful shapes. I wanted to go swimming. Hahahah however I did not bring a towel a change of clothes or anything swimming related.
The boys got to me & declared they were going swimming. I laughed. I was designated camera operator. So they stripped down & jumped in, go pro running & me taking photos.
Once they got out we watched the Belgians high up on another ridge line pushing for the summit. It looked like a tough way to go. Very steep & a lot of scree with loose large rocks.
We decided there was a weaker point in the pass & headed for that. Again I pushed on ahead of the boys. As I crested 5,000 mtr I met the path.
Yep looks like we are on the right track. I met the Belgians as they came around the corner. In their out of breath state they declared I had definitely taken the correct route.
They knew they had gone wrong at some point but pushed on rather than descending. We were standing at the junction of a sweet steep snow covered chute heading up to 5,100 or you could go down to some beautiful green Lagunas & the easier route.
I left the others & went over the pass. This is where the day became absolutely incredible. As I hiked over the pass Mount Trapecio came into full view as well as the glacier & the surrounding mountains.
Instead of words here's the pictures. My words just won't do it justice.
I was blown away. This is by far one of the most amazing tranquil places I have ever been. I was rewarded with 45minutes all to myself. I don't think I said anything other than WOW for about 2 hours.
The mountains & being being this close to a huge glacier that could swallow you up & nobody would know is just incredible. I was in love :)
To Be Continued............
The Huayhuash is a 100ish km loop around the Cordillera Huayhuash located in Peru.
Here's my account on trekking it.
After a restless night it was finally time to get up. All night thinking- will I be warm enough, do I have enough food, will my back be ok. The usual questions for a hike like this.
I left the hotel at 7:20 & managed to buy a bus ticket after trying all day yesterday. I met up with Oliver & Sarah a French couple I had met the previous day.
The bus left at 8 & I began to relax a little feeling a little more happy to finally be underway. We stopped to pick up some passengers then it was on into the canyon.
Another spectacular canyon. The bus hugged the road taking up its entirety. As we made tight switch back after tight switch back. Every time we rounded a switch back ( which was often ) I could see the bottom of the 700mtr drop.
After bumping & jostling our way down we finally crossed the river this of course marking the bottom of the descent. A slight wave of relief washed over me, halfway there.
We bounced our way along for a few km before starting the switch backs heading up the other side. Again the bus took up the entire road.
Thankfully we only encountered 1 car. We got to Llamac dropped off the locals paid our 20 soles tourist tax & rolled on to Pocpa. Of course we were the only gringos on the bus.
We arrived at Pocpa at 10:30, paid our second toll, this time only 10soles & began trekking. The sun was beaming, perfect blue skies. It was a glorious day again.
We started at around 3,500mtr. We quietly meandered our way along the road that was put in by the mine. It was a gradual slope so nothing too strenuous.
We stopped for a snack after about an hour. We met a bunch of other gringos that had mules carrying all of their stuff. We sat down after another hour or so.
It was so beautiful to sit with our backs against the cool rock that doubled as our back rest & a farmers fence. Just as we got settled in a car came along. He pulled over & we jumped in.
We were stoked a lift for the last 5km. We arrived at possibly one of the most beautiful camp sites I have ever camped at. Perched lazily at 4,100metres above sea level.
It was set in a giant valley that conjured up images of what Mongolia must be like. The mountains are huge with glaciated peaks & feel just a stones throw away.
We were on a slightly sloping grass plain with cows & mules wandering aimlessly around. There is a small creek running right through the place. It is beautiful.
The sun was still high as it had just turned 1pm. We found a nice patch away from all of the other tents. Of which there are more than I had expected.
There we're probably 40 tents here. Cooking tents & guided groups of up to 15. We sat on the grass enjoying the view & the sun. It was a magnificent way to spend the afternoon.
At 3 I decided to make a coffee. My stove decided it wanted none of it. I spent an hour or so trying to get it working. To start with it wouldn't stay a light. Then it was blowing a huge yellow flame.
I stripped it tried to clean it & took out the plunger. I did this 5 times still no luck. All I managed to do was use a huge amount of fuel. :/
I eventually just put the pot on this yellow flame & got it to boil. At 5 it was dinner time. Again I tried cleaning the stove etc but nothing same deal.
After fighting with it for close to an hour I ate my pasta cold & my onion uncooked I can assure you that cold soaked pasta that is literally a as cold as if you just pulled it from the fridge is NOT NICE. In this time the temp had dropped from 20c at 4 pm to 5c by 5:30.
I was not happy. I have a long way to go & my stove is not working. I have probably used 200ml of my 600 so now I am on rations. Urgh.
After washing my soot covered well everything I went over to a group tent & found a guide who knew how to strip the stove. He didn't manage to get the jet out but showed me how to take the top of to access the jet.
After trying to get the jet out & failing he decided we should light it so he could see what was happening. Of course we lit it & it worked perfectly. I think he may of dislodged something when trying to get the jet out.
We came back to our tents & it's bed time. It's freeeeezing. We have a beautiful nights sky with a half moon & no clouds. Making it even colder. It's 7:30 :)
16-7-16. HAPPY ONE YEAR TO ME
Today marks one year since I left Melbourne. I couldn't think of a better place to spend it. It is picture perfect here surrounded by mountains :)
The long open plain with towering glaciated mountains all around. Perfect blue sky. What a morning. I got my stove running finally, after doing a longer pre heat.
It was freezing cold but nice to be out of the tent. I packed up & was ready at the same time as Olivier & Sarah. We started the gentle climb together.
There were a few switch backs but nothing too steep. We started at 8am. Olivier & I chatted as we made our way up to the pass. These 2 are such great people. I am really lucky I keep meeting awesome people.
After an hour or so I decided it was time to head off. I was much faster than they were & felt I needed to push myself a little. I enjoy working hard up a climb.
Just before the pass I caught a group of 5. I stuck with them until the pass. We all stopped at the top. We had finally hit the sun & it was instantly too hot.
Everyone stopped to remove layers. They were all very impressed I was solo as they were part of a guided group. They gave me a few snacks as they said they had too much food. Not the same problem as I had.
The view from the pass was incredible. Too the right you could see a huge 6,000mtr glaciated peak with a number of smaller peaks surrounding it.
The valley opened up into a huge plain with a small creek snaking it's way through. The colour of the grass varied from dark Browns to a very lush green.
Stunning land. I left the group at 10 & moved quickly down the switchbacks. I reached a point where I knew I could either take the easy route or do some route finding & follow the alpine circuit.
Of course I decided on the alpine route. I got out my map & headed in the general direction. There was no real trail but it was just keep the big peaks to the right & don't drop too low.
I stopped a number of times, second guessing myself & wondering if I was on the right path ( not that there was a path )I persisted for 2 hours & finally made the lake.
I was stoked. Route finding in a wilderness like this solo can be very testing as you have nobody to ask for a second opinion. The thought of backtracking is always in your mind.
I took some pics & kept on moving. I had a second pass to cross today :) I decided not too try the alpine route through this section as it was not marked on my map. Instead I took a shortcut that was steeper but linked up with the main trail.
I steadily trekked up the pass,again soaking in the solitude & the incredible mountain views. It was a fairly open pass probably 300metres across with low tussock grass making the walking nice and soft.
These views certainly rival Nepal. The constant proximity to 6,000+ metre mountains is jaw dropping. After 4 hours without seeing another person I caught up to Ross & Jeff. I had met these 2 the other day at the climbing spot.
I slowed down to walk with these guys as I knew it was not far to camp. We walked & talked & enjoyed the surrounds. We took a minor detour to find a better view point.
It turned into another mini choose your own adventure. It was so worth it. The views are just mind blowing. We could see the Laguna that was the camp for the night from about 4km away.
We got into camp just as a group of 15 did. We managed to find a nice flat spot waaaaaay away from the group thankfully. The sun disappeared quick & it got cold. Then it started to hail & rain so it was into the tents for an hour or so.
Thankfully the rain stopped pretty quickly so I jumped out & cooked pasta with tomato sauce. There was a huge Avalanche as we sat around chatting.
I got in my tent at 7 & ate the sublime Wolfgang had left as a present for me. I'm really happy today. I am in such an amazing place. Did I mention the view ?????
After a fresh night I got up to find my tent covered in ice inside & out. It was definitely a cold morning. I took the fly off my tent & made my oats
There were some very loud avalanches through the night & the last one was at 5:30am. You could feel the ground rumbling. We were probably 6km from where they were rolling down.
I left camp at 9 about a half hour before Jeff & Ross. I hiked alone around the lake. It was a magic morning. The reflection on the lake was amazing. I stopped a few times to take pictures.
I continued around the awe inspiring views nice & slowly. It was spectacular. The mountain peaks were right there. A stones throw away.
I went past the next Laguna & met a Belgian couple also out solo. I had a brief stop off with them before continuing along solo. I got to the second of the three lakes. It was so amazing.
The green water with the pure white snow above. Glaciers in all directions. Sun shining. Just wow. I got to the last lake & stopped to take a lot of photos.
The climb started straight after that. It was pretty steep to start but nothing to serious. I lost count of the number of times I stopped to take pictures
The climb was steady but you knew you were climbing. As it climbed away from the mountain range Suila Grande came into view. Wow amazing mountain. It makes you want to learn to mountaineer.
I reached the top of the pass right on 12. The group of 15 who had left a little over 2 hours before me were having lunch at the top. The pass was at 4,800 metres.
On the one side you had huge glaciated jagged peaks & on the other was this wide open valley of rolling green & brown tussock grass.
The contrast was incredible.
I sat on the pass for almost 2 hours before I decided I had had enough of the incredible views. The glaciers were just so close & small avalanches continued to fall.
To be continued................
I'm currently sitting on a bus from Lima to Cuzco. It's a 21 hour ride & I'm not thrilled to be on the bus, but I feel it was the right decision.
It started on the 3rd day of the Huayhuash trek. I stopped for a regular toilet break & got the shock of my life.
Arghhhh it was dark RED. I'm not talking a touch of brown or a drop of blood, I'm talking like you cut your arm blood & it hurt like hell.
Uh oh never had this before. I feel fine hmmmm. In my mind "Ok don't panic you only have a few more days on the Huayhuash I'm sure it will clear up".
Hiking the HH you have no option once you are out there. It's a loop so u either turn back or keep going. Makes life pretty simple really.
I tried not to think about it too much but the need to pee every 15minutes made me think about it. The good thing is the trail just seems to get better everyday.
I set up camp had a chat with the others before one final toilet break & tucking myself as deep as I could in my sleeping bag.
I had a pretty bad nights sleep. It was cold as usual with the inside & out of the tent covered in ice when I got up. My mind had started to wander & think about all the things that could be wrong with me. Lucky I didn't have google it would of said I was dying for sure.
I was relieved when my first pee was clear the next morning. It still hurt like crazy but it was clear. Things are looking up. Nope second pee ended that theory. Oh well keep going not much else to do.
So on the 3rd day I finished the trail & jumped on a small bus back to my bike in Chiquian. I was thinking perhaps I would stay there the night & head to Huaraz in the morning.
Once I got to the hotel where my bike was I went to the toilet. Nope it's as bad as ever I'm getting on the bus to Huaraz. I think I need to see a dr.
A 3hr bus ride to Huaraz was a lot nicer than 2 days cycling hahaha all for the grand total of $3.50. I got off the bus & went straight to the hospital.
Holy shit this has to be one of the worst hospitals i have ever seen. It was horrific. There was a guy getting surgery & people kept opening the door to look in.
Half the windows were smashed. They had security at the front door. The tiles were broken & it seemed pretty dirty. Oh well
The queue for the dr was huge. Of course I waited almost an hour to be told I need to pay first. So off to the cashier, at least that was only a 10-15 min wait.
I paid my $5 then back to the back of the queue. After another 15min the dr spotted me waiting & waved me through. Onto the scales, blood pressure test then to explain my situation in Spanish.
Nobody spoke English. I was explaining in my best Spanish when a girl who was in with her boyfriend asked if I needed help. She was Argentinian & spoke great English thank god.
She said the dr understood & was going to give me an injection & antibiotics. But first to the pharmacy. Again I queued in the wrong side to be told I needed to go back inside to pay first.
$2 landed me Tramadol, 2 injections & 21 antibiotic tablets wooo that's cheap. I got my injection & was referred for blood tests & an X-ray.
I checked into the hostel again but this time I got myself a dorm room. I needed a bed. I went out for pizza with another cycle tourist & continued to need to pee every 5 minutes.
The next morning I went & did the blood tests. I then made an appointment for the X-Ray. I went to do that in the afternoon & after an hours wait was told by the dr I needed to see a urologist first.
I went to the hospital but the urologist was not there. I was then sent down the road to his practice. I will spare the details but I had a Full examination not something I expected at 34.
He then referred me onto another hospital for an MRI. Shit was getting expensive urghhhh. I went to another medical centre that had all of its windows intact so that was nice.
They did a blood test first & told me to go back the next day. I was still peeing a lot of blood & nobody had any answers yet. I was definitely starting to get worried.
I went back the next day was told that blood test was fine & I needed to do the MRI $190 :/ I did the test & was told to come back Monday afternoon.
At this stage it had been 6 days. Still no closer to an answer & still feeling fine apart from the blood.
I tried to relax as much as I could on Sunday even had a couple of beers. I went back Monday at 1:30 was told to go back at 4 I went back at 4 & was told to go back at 6:30, I was getting so frustrated.
I went back at 6:30 they handed them over said nothing except I need to see a dr. Urghhhh So I went to the bus station & booked a night bus to Lima. Hoping at least the dr might speak English.
I overnighted to Lima & went to my wonderful friends Olivier & Sarah's place. I then went to the dr paid another $30 to see a specialist.
He gave me the all clear & suspects a kidney infection. Oh thank god. This was also the first day I peed clear & the pain was almost gone.
I then spent the next day with Olivier & Sarah eating some very nice Ceviche & just hanging out. I booked a bus ticket to Cusco so I could be here when my friend Deb arrives.
I also felt it was a wise decision since I had taken 10 days worth of antibiotics. So that brings me here on a 21hr bus to Cusco which was going really well until the driver missed the hairpin turn & crashed over the railing.
We came to a nice stop about 3mtr from the edge of a 1000mtr drop. Lucky he was not going 10-15k faster or I would be typing this from a hospital bed or possibly worse.
After waiting on the road for 5 hours we finally got picked up by a collectivo then dropped at a small town to catch another collectivo to a bigger town.
We then waited 3.5 hours for another bus. We finally arrived in Cusco at 9:15pm instead of 11am. Lucky for me they reimbursed 3/4 of the fare which only took another hour to sort out.
I rode my bike the 3k into the city & went to 8 hostels all full. So I rode back out to the bus station & tried 3 more before finally finding one just before 11:30pm haha
What a mission. I finally started having a kidney infection symptom the morning before the bus. My lower back has been killing me. So that's a positive sign it was a correct diagnosis / guess
It's all part of the trip really Or as "reality " tv would say " journey "
So keep on living people :))
I have spent the last 2 weeks off the bike. Working in a small Ecolodge just out of a place called Caraz. It has one of the most amazing views I have ever seen.
I stopped off here 70km north of Huaraz to take a little break & contribute to society for a change.
In exchange for work I was given a room to sleep in & food on the days I worked. The work ended up being 8 hours a day 5 days a week.
I was hoping to get some running & exploring in whilst here but unfortunately that has not happened. The work was longer than I had expected as the add said 5 hours a day.
I ended up getting sick last Friday & consequently have had diareeha since. I didn't eat anything for 4 days but continued to work.
In the last 3 days I have slowly worked myself back into eating food :). My room is a small wooden hut way out the back. It's super peaceful but it's a bit of a mission to the toilet & shower
The work has been landscaping a beautiful block of land. They have 6 bungalows that guests stay in & a couple of acres of raspberries & blueberries
It's been nice to get off the bike & try improve my Spanish but I will be glad to get moving again. This sitting still thing is tough hahaha.
I have a few treks in mind & possibly some Spanish classes at long last. I still suck terribly at the language & It drives me nuts.
Anyway I'm off. Time to head south again wooooo
Keep it rubber side down :)
Highs & lows of touring.
It's the highest of highs being almost 6,000mtr up on a glaciated volcano all the way to being low, following a river through the Amazonas region for 300+km.
It's also a mental & physical game of highs & lows. Today being a stark contrast to yesterday.
Yesterday I set off in the cool shade that enveloped me in a huge gorge that had stretched for an untold amount of kilometres. Surrounded by huge limestone chossy rock walls, fantastic morning
All of a sudden I rounded a bend & was struck by the beautiful morning sunshine. There were tiny hummingbirds native to the area flying around. Bright orange, yellow & fluorescent blue butterflies almost in swarms.
The tiny village that appeared sat just metres off the waters edge glistening in the morning dew. There was even a smattering of palm trees around. It was pure joy to be in this place. A place that few other gringos had even set eyes upon let alone bike tourers.
I was tempted to stop right there for the day, but conSidering I had only done 7km I thought it best I keep going.
I continued on toward my goal of Chachapoyas a town that was supposed to be quite beautiful & surrounded by some archeological artefacts some 1400 years old.
My legs put up a protest as the day wore on & I promised them a day of relaxation tomorrow. Trust me when you cycle solo you tend to talk to yourself & your legs a lot :)
The final climb was 15km completely out of my way & would bring me around 10,000mtr of vertical climbing in the last 5 days. That's a lot of climbing with a loaded steel touring bike.
I finally arrived in the town. To say it was oversold was an understatement. Also it was the first time I had seen gringos in 5 days. Along with gringos comes " gringo troubles " overpriced accom & food mostly.
As soon as I got to the Central Park I was asked for money & my drink. Of course I said no I had just ridden 100km in 35 degree heat & of course this person cursed me & carried on.
I even noticed the gringo near by staring at me. I'm sure they were in disbelief as I said no to giving away a drink that had literally cost me 60c
I found myself some cheap accom thankfully. All of $5 with a nice hot shower, wifi & a kitchen. There were some other travellers there but I found myself feeling like I didn't belong.
One person put some very loud trance music on the computer whilst others mused about how difficult bus transportation was. One young guy of 23 spoke about how he had come away & was hoping to find himself, & how he felt that travel had been very underwhelming for him. ........
I listened, told him to stop looking for himself he has plenty of time HAHAHA. I then went to bed around 10 which brings me to today.
So far I have ridden 40km away from this town. Not an easy task when you have legs under protest. Today I feel flat, frustrated & just not thrilled. I feel a little annoyed with myself after promising a rest day.
I've had another dog bite a hole in my other pannier, been ripped off at breakfast & struggled along in the heat.
I'm still travelling upstream & am aiming for another 30km before camping somewhere.
Excellent I got a flat tyre. Then whilst cooking dinner in one of the best camp spots ever aside from the bugs early on, I knocked over my pasta losing half of it on the ground.
The button broke off my pants in the dark so now that's gone, but hey the stars are shining & I can see the southern cross.
Solo travel is great but sometimes I wonder, is it putting me out of touch?? At this stage I am just happy to be away from those pesky gringos in an amazing camp spot......
Tomorrow will be a better day. I know it. I'm going up to Revash Mausolsum then a short 30km where I plan on finding a place to stay.
I left the boys behind in Riobamba fairly late in the day. I made 60km before setting up camp in a nice pine forest.
Once again I was solo. It was a lot easier this time :) after a great nights sleep I headed out into a light drizzle. Aiming somewhere around the 130km mark.
It was straight into it CLIMBING. I would climb for 5-10-15km think I was at the top, but nope a short down hill then climbing again. Really glad I have this 1x11 group set
I rolled along with the intention of getting all the way to El Tambo 136km. I flew down a few great descents but was met with just as great climbs.
I finally got to take my rain gear off a few hours after I started. The sun burst out & it was a magnificent day. The climbs seemed to be going on & on. Man I am unfit.
I finally rolled into Chunchi right on time for lunch & a water restock. It had taken me 4.5 hours to do 70km. I had 65 to go.
After filling up on lunch & 3.5litrrs of water I was off. I got a nice little descent out of town then it was. Climbing.
I caught up to an older guy who was walking said hi & kept on pedalling. A few seconds later he passed me running. This was a reasonable climb & over 2200mtr. He continued to run as I struggled to keep up.
I finally passed him again as he slowed a little. He was running in dress shoes with no socks & undone laces. He was schooling me jahah.
I rode on & again he caught me. This must of been over 1.5km by now. I sat next to him on the bike but was having to put serious effort in. This continued for probably 4km.
Then he stopped at his patch of dirt. I stopped had the usual chat & he gave me his address & wanted to know all about Australia. I left with his details & continued the climb.
The deluge of rain started around 1 & would not let up all afternoon. All I was doing was climbing & climbing. My legs were knackered but the climbing & rain continued.
I knew at this point there was no way I was making it to El Tambo. It was still 24 km away & I think it had taken Me over an hour to do 7.
I stopped & put my sleeves on, buff & gloves, it was getting cold. No real surprise as I was over 3000 mtr. I listened to a podcast & kept on climbing.
I would get a short down then a looooooong up. Just as I was absolutely soaked through & beginning to shiver I arrived in Zhud.
I rolled through the tiny town, passed the police station & a further 800mtr to the service station. I was hoping this may offer a place to camp.
I quickly went into the bathroom to get changed. I was freezing. I warmed up & bought a coffee. As I sat there sipping my coffee trying to stop shivering I surveyed my surroundings.
Absolutely no grass or protected space. No chance to camp here at all. My only option was to ride the 800mtr back up hill in the rain to the police station.
I finished my weak as coffee, paid the exorbitant .65c & left. Making a run for it as the rain has eased. My main concern was getting my dry clothes wet.
I went to the police station & spoke to the officer who barely looked away from his FB on his phone. Telling me that it was only 20min down the road to some accom.
I once again explained I was on my bicycle. I gestured across to a small car park shelter & asked if I can camp in there. He shrugged told me I would be cold but whatever.
I took my bike & ran the 30mtr quickly in the rain to my new found respite area. I quickly set up my tent & a clothes line to hang out all my wet stuff.
My back was killing me but I still needed to make dinner. I had a few chats with inquisitive locals which was great. I cooked pasta & tuna & prepared myself for what would be a long night.
As soon as I got into bed it was so loud. The highway was literally 50mtr away. To make it worse was there was a stop light & construction going on. As well as being the Sunday of a long weekend.
So everyone was travelling home. Wverytime a truck would come grinding to a holt it would hit the road works & it would sound like it lost its entire load.
At 11pm someone decided to crank the music up right next to me. I do believe it was the night shift police.
30-5-16 Zhud- Biblian 60km 1860mtr
Feeling pretty flat & tired after my restless sleep I made my way to Biblian. Of course it was loooong climbs with short descents until 15km out of town.
Them BOOM finally a mammoth descent. 15km of downhill woooop with a top speed of 79km/hr. The loaded bike gets pretty loose after 77 haha but man it was fun, zipping between cars & trucks woooo
i was was stoked to arrive just before the rain as well. A beautiful little town with some tasty salchipapa ( chips with a small Frankfurt sausage ).
It it was early & only 30km to Cuenca but no point in paying for accomodation if I don't have too. I checked out the sites & on dusk went & camped in another police station. This time a nice quiet one.
I was up early & on the move. I cycled the 30 some odd km into the city. A pretty nice place overall. Found myself a hostel & had one of the nicest hottest showers this trip.
I spent 2 days in Cuenca just checking it out & resting my tired legs hahaha. Finally I'm starting to hit the REAL mountains.
Some stats :
5 days riding
10,284 mtr gained
3 dead dogs
All cycling was above 2,200mtr above sea level.
I am an ultra runner, Mountain biker, Packrafter, Climber, Ironman, Endurance Athlete