The alarm went off at 4.30am and I had to think for a minute as to why this would be. I still lingered, reluctant to get up. However, there was no avoiding it, so up I got, dressed and went downstairs where breakfast was waiting. (This was the fastest breakfast I had during the whole time I stayed there!)
No sooner was that finished, than it was off to collect my bag, put on my boots and out the door to meet the bus at the end of the street. When it arrived, I discovered it was the same guide as yesterday and the bus was already full of young people, including Koreans, Germans, Canadians and Australians.
We travelled as far as Yungay before turning off onto a gravel road and driving up and up and up. After about 2 1/2 hours, we stopped for breakfast. Having had mine earlier, I decided just to have a much needed coffee, which, as usual, was instant with evaporated milk. Yum……! Half an hour later, we continued on into the Huascaran Park, where the weather slowly deteriorated.
On arrival at our start point for the walk, it was looking a little ominous. However, whilst the rain threatened all day, we actually had very little. It was just a shame that the mountain tops were obliterated by cloud most of the time.
The walk was spectacular and took us first along a flat plain and then ascended up a zig zag path, passed waterfalls, cows, flora and fauna and various small lakes. The pattern then repeated itself – flat plain, zig zag path, onwards and upwards. At one point, I couldn’t see anybody else at all and it was wonderful to be completely alone with mountains surrounding me. It was also very hard going at times, principally because of the altitude. We started walking at 3,900 metres and finished at 4,500 metres. Needless to say, I acquired a headache without too much trouble, which I kept at bay using ibuprofen. Even so, by the time I returned to the bus 7 hours later, it was throbbing.
However, the pain was worth it as, when I arrived at Laguna 69, I was impressed and, coming from NZ, I am not easily impressed, as we have so much spectacular scenery there. The lake, fed by a glacier, was a magnificent turquoise with sheer black and grey scree surrounds. It was topped by very high, snow capped mountains, which appeared, as if by magic, when the sun miraculously shone whilst I was having lunch. It was the only sun we saw all day so couldn’t have been more timely. It was impossible to capture the splendour in any photographs.
I sat for as long as I could, admiring the view. As we had all walked at our own pace, many of the young ones were starting their return to the bus when I arrived as they had got cold. I’m pleased to say, though, that I was not the slowest as some of the Korean ladies were a considerable way behind me. One or two of that nationality were also decidedly not appropriately attired, with one chap, who must have had wet feet the entire way, wearing canvas slip on shoes and another lady carrying a handbag. It was most definitely a hiking boot type of walk!
By the time I arrived back at the bus, it was after 3.30pm. We waited for the last of the Koreans and then set off for our return trip to Huaraz. This took a little less time than our ride out this morning but still seemed a long way and I was very relieved to arrive. Whilst being tired, it felt wonderful to have done such a long walk and actually be out in the ‘real’ mountains.