Saturday, June 28, 2008
The next day was a very long one and we were on the trail at 7:30. We had two passes to cross, both close to 16,000 feet and a long distance to walk. We passed two beautiful lakes on the way up to Osoruri Pass, 4860 meters. We were all feeling the altitude and huffing and puffing up the slope for two and a half hours.
There were patches of snow all around us as we crossed and started down the steep slope, another two hours to lunch.
That lunch was as usual excellent but we still had another four to five hours to go, Eli took me aside and suggested I ride the horse for a half hour up the last section of the next uphill to "save my strength".
I was by far the slowest member of the group. I knew he was worried about getting into camp before dark that day and was relieved to not be holding everyone back. Did I mention the horse? Our sweep "Roger" leads him by a rope last in our parade in case of an emergency. It was wonderful to be sitting as we climbed the trail but very scary too. Roger led the horse and Marcello followed.
At the top of Vientunan, 4770 meters, Roger returned back in case anyone else needed a ride and Marcello and I started down the 3,000 feet to the valley. Once there we had another hour only gradually uphill to our campsite. What a relief to see the tents ahead!
After a brief cup of tea, as we would many days to come, we all stumbled into our tents, crawled into our sleeping bags and rested/warmed up until dinner. Two of the five chicken that started the trip with us bit the dust this day and featured in our dinner menu. The others huddled around our feet - for safety or warmth?
A special treat before dinner - hot mulled wine! We request a change in schedule from Eli and he acquiesced quickly. Instead of hiking in the morning and having the afternoon off, we would have a morning off and hike after lunch! And it's only a 3 hour hike. What a relief to sleep in! AND the following day was a rest day! Luxurious! Geoff and I played gin in the mess tent after breakfast (bottom right).
The weather the next day was rather miserable, cold and raining. We had hail on the way down the day before too. Unfortunately it continued the whole rest day but we do get lots of rest and we could have been hiking in it!
The morning of day six we wake up to brilliant sunshine and an incredible view of the Alpamayo peak (that's it's distinctive pyramid shape on the left). It's another long day ahead, but we all feel great. To read more, go on to my next entry.