At 5am came the “Senor Ruru, Senorita Ruru” wake up call. With it, a cup of cocoa tea each.
Appearing on the eastern horizon, a streak of crimson orange and, the start of a new day.
We had 30 minutes to dress and pack. Another hearty breakfast before water bottles were topped up. It was a little coolish however, care needed to be taken so as not to layer up too much because you had to carry what you wore when the sun shrunk the shadows and you shed apparel. Another lesson taken for the newbies.
The ascent was again straight up. It was tough going, even with more stoppages to suck the air to oxygenate the lungs. Accompanying us this part, was an emergency horse for that just in case moment someone needs the four legged ambulance. One of the US ladies was hoisted up into the saddle. There are no heroes on this type of trek and putting your health first is definitely paramount.
Soon, the horse troupe passed us again.
There was more climbing, stopping to rest, and more climbing.
Then at 10am, we stood on top of the first pass Pucapujaccasa at 4,400 metres. The view of the snow-capped mountain range was breath taking … on top of the being breathless! The mountain that was prominent (5,570metres) is called in Spanish – Veronica. Or it’s traditional name, ‘Waqay Wilki’ and means ‘Sacred Tears’.
One of the ladies from the Bronx, New York burst into tears. These moments are the ones that are the priceless enriching ones. To share the moment with someone who has embarked on an adventure that was way beyond their everyday life paradigm. We hugged as we steered at the Waqay together.
We trekked a little further to our lunch stop where the tent was set up and a cooked meal served. They were just remarkable fellow beings making it as easy and enjoyable for us travelling beings as they could. Especially when they had to de-camp and get down to our next camp site at pace to set up before our arrival, like the day before.
But before we started our decent, we summited a second Pass – Kuychicassa at 4,450 metres and the highest point of our trek. Again, just spectacular 360 degree views with red iron mineral laden peaks; wild horses every now and again raising their heads to stop and gawk; fauna accustomed to the baron cliffs; and Waqay Wilki from a different angle. We could see the yellow line of where the campsite was … but the steepness and rocky terrain meant a further two hours of trekking to reach, stopping at the Intipunko sun gate on the descent down.
This was the longest day walking and certainly stretched the mental states of most. We could see Ollantaytambo below. It lit up as daylight faded. Dinner was served and gobbled. Bed beckoned quickly after.
Cripes, we hadn’t even gotten into our sleeping bags before the person in the next tent to the left was snoring.
Yep, remember Bronte who purchased the chocolate condoms!