Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Junín Trip - Day 2 - Huataypallana

The second day of the Junín trip was spent on the mountain of Huatyapallana.

I am going to try to describe this experience with the best descriptive vocabulary the English language has to offer, because it was a very colorful experience, like a bowl of potpourri-sentiments that together make the aroma that was Huatyapallana.

We arose early, at 5am, to take a bus ride up the mountain to Huatyapallana. The ride up was very jerky because of all the rocks. Dust creeped in on all sides, so much so that I had to use my scarf to cover my mouth. When we reached the site where the buses park and the hike starts, I had to use the bathroom. It was a wooden stall, in public view with merely a hole in the ground. That was alright; I had my kleenex and anti-bacterial hand gel ready to go! ***Note to those who travel: always bring these two items everywhere. Toilet paper is often a luxury in public restrooms, as is soap and sometimes running water.***

We began the trail, which was a beautiful walk with slight rises and falls. Soon, a waterfall from one of the many glacier lakes came into view. The first part of the hike was breath taking, the kind of sights reserved for post cards. I saw at least four glacier lakes on the way up, each one more blue than the one before. I was ready for prancing Bambi’s to show up everywhere. But that was the furthest thing from what came next (if you really want to know I saw one cow the whole time, but back to the story).

The whole hike took about 6 hours for me, here is the beginning of my journal entry of that day:

“Yesterday was hilarious, and this is the story” (at the time is was far from funny, but here is the story of the last 3.5 hours of the hike)

I began to feel the strange sensation of quickening heart beats, short and shallow breaths, and lead filled legs. It only meant one thing in the rugged Andes: altitude sickness. The steep inclines that were after the glacier lakes began just as altitude sickness was taking out people in my group one by one, kind of like an Agatha Christie book. Anyways, I took my sweet time up the mountain, taking pictures and joking with my friends. I was in no hurry, especially when I could see the glacier top in front of me the whole time. It didn’t seem far, nevertheless, I began to use cookies to motivate myself and some other girls up the mountain. “If we make it to the third rock up, yes the giant one that looks like an old man, then we can all have a cookie break...” In this manner we slowly crawled up the mountain.

The issue with the hike was that the guides never really guided us, and we never really knew where we were at, how far we had to go, or how strenuous the hike would become after each phase. I was in one of the last groups, and when I saw the glacier, with little specs on top (other climbers) I thought it only was a little further. The guide then told us it was another hour to even get to the glacier, much less the top. My group was very exhausted with many sick, so we took a nap on the side of the mountain. I was very down about that fact that I wasn’t physically able to make it to the top, but in retrospect, I fully enjoyed my time resting under the face of that majestic glacier peak. I wouldn’t trade my time enjoying the beautiful surroundings with great people.

The descent down was the most rugged part of the trail, something we were not warned about. It was down hill, up hill, and sideways with loose stones and dirt. As I was slowly making my way down, just waiting for SOME sight of the end, I heard a stampede coming from behind. I really thought it was a pack of animals, but nope!, it was just the Andean children on a field trip. They hiked the whole mountain in half the time and ran (I am not joking) down the whole descent like little gazelles. I figured if they could do it, I would try, against my better judgement. It went surprisingly well, you just can’t stop until you reach a landing or else you’ll die.

The happiest point was when I saw the buses (a far way away). Then, to add a cherry on top of being done with the exhausting hike, there was a pack of llamas grazing at the end of the trail. Oh, how we bonded! I just love llamas.

The ride down was silent because everyone was wiped out, sick, or angry. It was such a funny experience after it had happened, because of the lack of communication, the insane trail that we had to climb, and the intense altitude. It was like the mountain and the guides played one giant joke on us. In the end though, I really did enjoy that beautiful mountain, (I have never seen anything like it) and I took away some great pictures as well.

That night, we rode bus a long way to a different city, Tarma, which is now one of my favorite places in all of Peru. But that is for the next entry :D

1 comment: