Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Choquequirao to Maizal

Today we got an early start since we were combining 2 days of hiking. We started with a 40 minute hike uphill to the main plaza at Choquequirao.

We spent about 50 minutes exploring the ruins.

Arturo suggested that these buildings may have housed mummies.
So naturally, I did my best mummy impersonation.

After exploring the site, we climbed up the terraces using steep steps.

Then we followed the trail along the aquaduct and up the hill, away from the site.

Before heading over the hill, I got one last glimpse of Choquequirao. After hiking through cloud forest for about an hour, we reached the top of the ridge.

Then we got a view of  the Rio Blanco. This is where we were supposed to have spent the previous night; instead, the river would be our lunch spot today.

After reaching the ridge, we began our descent towards the river. This side of the mountain was much drier than the cloud forest side. The trail was dry, dusty, and slippery. The others flew down as though they were skiing. Each time I tried to speed up, I slipped and fell, so it was back to slowly picking my way down.

After about an hour of hiking downhill, I caught up with the group at another sector of Choquequirao (I think this is the Pinchinuyoc sector). They had arrived 10 minutes before me and had nearly finished their snack. I skipped the snack and poked around for a few minutes before we continued down the mountain. From the ruins, the trail got narrower, steeper, and more slippery. Great! 
From this view, the river still doesn't look much closer.

I spent the next hour and a half hiking alone, since I was slower than the group. I had no idea how far ahead they were, since the combination of the steep slopes and the switchbacks prevented me from seeing them.
I didn't worry too much about my slowness, since I knew they wanted to play in the river (it was too cold for me!). I figured the slower I was, the more time they had. They had about 20 minutes before I arrived, which was about 10 minutes before lunch was ready.

The area by the river was full of biting midges and mosquitoes, and would have been a miserable place to spend the night. At this point, the group again thanked me for getting sick and having us camp the second night at the ruins instead of by the vampire river!

View of the trail we came down.
Despite having a delicious lunch and having my appetite back in full force, I was careful not to overeat at lunch, knowing the next 3 hours would be spent climbing up this trail.

After about the first hour of dry dusty trail, the landscape got more lush. I saw quite a few butterflies, orchids, and even a shiny black snake.

Despite the long day, we still reached the camping spot at Maizal about an hour before sunset.

Trail Stats: Choquequirao to Rio Blanco
Length: 10 km / 6.2 mi
Duration: 5 hours
Elevation gain: 450 m / 1476 '
Elevation loss: 1450 m / 4756'

Trail Stats: Rio Blanco to Maizal
Length: 8 km / 5 mi
Duration: 3 hours
Elevation gain: 3040 m / 6691 '
Elevation loss: 20 m / 66'

WOW!! That's a lot of ups and downs!!!

Camping at 3000 m / 9843'

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