Hiking the Lares Trek - Day 2

Trip Start Sep 08, 2008
Trip End Nov 02, 2008

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

23 September 2008 - Tuesday

At 5:30 we were awoken with some Coca tea and warm water to wash our faces. This was good service. We didn't even need to leaver our tents. After packing up our duffel bags, and then went out for breakfast. I had been craving oats porridge but was very happily surprised when I tried the Quinua porridge, really good. Followed this up with some scrambled eggs. I tell you, these chefs know how to perform miracles in the middle of nowhere.

At 7:15am we were off for our full day of hiking. The briefing was that the hike would consist of one long uphill hike, peaking at about 4780m and then only downhill from there onwards. This route was said to be more scenic from the other option we were given.

We were rewarded with a magnificent view of a glacier on one of the higher mountains right at the beginning of the hike. Hiking in the valley in the shadow of the mountains it was a very cold beginning, with all of us wearing gloves, beanies and many layers of clothing. The minute we stepped into some sunlight, the layers pealed off.

Romero, one of our guides, led the way. And though he walked much slower than our other guide, David, he took fewer breaks. I couldn't quite work out which of the two hiking styles was more exhausting. Our mule had to work a fair bit to ensure that some of the people managed to make it up the mountain and stay with the group. I found that walking at a pace that was slower than your own, tired one out just as much as walking too fast.

Our longest stop was halfway up the mountain to eat our snack packs. We finally reached Pumawanka Pass at 11:15 (4780m) where we spent about 45 minutes waiting for the rest of the group to join us and to take some scenic photos. The photos don't nearly tell the story of the views that one is rewarded with when you're on top of the world. From this point onwards, it was all to be downhill. Quite a relief.

We arrived for lunch about 2 hours later, where our lunch tent, toilet tent and all was pitched up and waiting for us. After lunch we had about a 40 minute siesta before heading off for our final stretch of hiking. We arrived at our campsite in a beautiful part of the valley, and again our tents already pitched up and ready to go. How do these people do it?

It didn't take long for the sun to disappear behind the mountains and for the cold to set in. While the guys played boy scouts making boats, most of the rest of the group snuggled up in their tents and had a snooze. When I came out for dinner I literally wore every item of clothing I had with me on the hike as it was freezing!!!

The dinner tent did offer some protection, but not too much. We were surprised by some hot chocolate pudding at dinner and bonfire that was lit outside. Needless to say we all huddled up closely to the fire to make full use of it. The sky was incredibly clear and we all had a chance to spot some shooting stars before tucking into our freezing cold tents.

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