Monday, November 13, 2006

Santa Cruz Trek Day 3

Day 23
Up at 5:45am, and started the trek. Could see a few signs of activity in the group camp. They were not carrying their own packs, so presumed they would be faster than me. I set off, and the climbing started immediately. Today involved something like a 900m climb up to Punta Union pass. It was raining. After a few hours I was beginning to get depressed at my lack of progress, but again the map was being deceptive, implying that the path should be on the other side of the valley at this point - I had in fact gone further than I realised, and was on the approach to the pass already!

At this stage, I could see the group not far behind, though the rate at which my plodding was slowing, I was surprised I had not already been overtaken! Perhaps it was the fresh *dry* pair of trekking socks I had donned for this, theoretically the most difficult day.

Reached pass, which is a small notch in the range with a stone staircase built to take one up the last few metres. [GPS: 08.91225S, 77.58183W] Made it only 10 minutes before group. It was raining. In both directions the view was good, particularly in the direction I was heading, where one could gaze down on the beautiful Lake Taulicocha, and in to the distance, the valley I would be heading down. All downhill from here on!

So, descended. Reached the suggested camp site before mid-day, where the porters were already setting up camp for the group. Decided I'd had enough of this trek, and the rain, so carried on. I did wonder whether I'd be able to finish the trek by the end of the day. Seemed unlikely, given that it was supposed to be three days of trekking, and yet...

So I pegged along, but for some reason still wasn't reaching the lakes I had seen in the distance from the pass. In fact it took hours to get there, and so given that by now it was 4pm, and I was worried about darkness setting in, I pitched my tent between the two, [GPS: 08.93599S, 77.67082W] after the bigger Jatuncocha before the smaller Icchicocha. The site was quite well concealed by boulders. I figured this would protect me from unwanted bovine attention but if there was an earthquake-trigged rock slide, I was in big trouble! Was also good being near one of the "proper" toilets as my bowels were doing bad things all night! It poured with rain through the night again, and worse, did not abate in the morning, so I had to strike camp in the rain, which is always a miserable thing to do!

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