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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'