Thursday, October 13, 2011

Maizal/Mina Victoria to Yanama

I had a miserable night last night. The tent was on a slope and I kept sliding down until my feet smashed against the side of the tent. To add to the fun, there was a donkey just outside of my tent (I actually bumped into it through the tent) chomping away on grass right by my head. It triggered dreams of the donkey chewing out the tent stakes and the tent sliding/flying/tumbling down the side of the mountain. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well!

We were now back on our regular schedule. We spent the first 1.5 hours climbing uphill through mud, with only a few spots of "dry" ground. Luckily there were enough rocks on the trail to hop between, so we didn't sink ankle deep (or deeper) into the mud. It was physically and mentally draining making that climb (or maybe I was just tired from the flying tent donkey dreams!)

On the bright side, the water contributed to a beautiful lush landscape filled with gold and purple flowers.

After about 1.5 hours, the mud finally gave way to drier ground. We passed several "caves" that were really mining tunnels. Arturo claimed that several passed all the way through the mountain (then why were we hiking OVER the mountain?)
At the time, I didn't realize that this pose made me look like I was squatting to take a crap. That dark "stain" on my right leg is MUD! Really.... it is.

For the next 2.5 hours, we continued to climb towards the Yanama Pass (also called Abra Victoria). Part of the trail closest to the pass was an old paved Inca road. Walking on this section made me glad that I didn't take the Inca trail, since the pavement was harder underfoot than the trails (although a welcome change to the mud earlier in the day).

After a total of about 4 hours of hiking, we finally reached the pass at an elevation of 4130 m / 13,546'.

Because of the elevation, Vilmar and the emergency horse (with very little cargo) stayed with us. Luckily, nobody needed to use it. Although, there was a group of hikers behind us with a very sick Australian who really could have used the horse.

Then we did what we did best .... napped! It was a bit cold and windy at the pass, but the rocks were nice and warm. So we napped on them while waiting for lunch.
We then enjoyed a delicious lunch at the top of the pass.
During lunch, a condor flew over us.

After lunch, we took another nap as our mule caravan headed toward the campsite.

The trail hugged the side of the mountain with steep dropoffs. In some places it was very narrow (and a bit scary) but the views were amazing.

On the way down, we explored a few more mines and then finally caught a glimpse of the village of Yanama, where we would be spending the night.
After about 2.5 hours of hiking from the pass, we finally arrived in Yanama. One of our horsemen lived in the village, so Herbert, our cook, used the horseman's house to prepare our dinner.

We arrived at the campsite a couple of hours before sunset to find our tents set up for us.

While some of the others took a nap, I washed some clothes, took an icy cold shower, then enjoyed hooping in a big grassy field before other groups of hikers arrived to share the campsite.

For dinner, Herbert made us deep fried cuy (Guinea pig), along with deep fried yucca root, pasta, and a plate of beets, carrots and green beans.
I took a piece of the Guinea pig, thinking I would just take one polite bite. I chomped every bit of meat off the bones! It was delicious (or I was really hungry!!)

It was really cold at this elevation and I was thankful for my warm sleeping bag, layers of fleece, and the chemical hand warmers my friend Pamela gave me for my birthday. I put one in the little pouch at the foot of my sleeping bag, and the other in my fleece pocket, and stayed warm and toasty all night.

Trail Stats:
Distance: 12 km / 7.5 mi
Duration: 6.5 hrs
Elevation Gain: 600 m / 1948'
Elevation Loss: 550 m / 1804'

Camping at 4100 m / 13451'

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