Somewhere on the trail...

Chaullay Travel Blog

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First camp...

I’m currently surrounded by 3 little kids looking at my trail map -- reading it actually. We are in the middle of the cloud forest in an incredible valley and have stopped for our 2nd night while trekking the Salkantay trail. We (10 of us) are in a small farm, and local country home full of pigs, cats, a dog and a ton of chickens. The porters have set our tents up and are boiling water for coca leaf tea and preparing our dinner. Today I have accomplished one of the hardest trails I have done -- ever. Running a marathon (which I did) was on par for about half the distance -- then it go really hard.

The first day on the trail we were individually picked up by taxis at around 4 am and taken to a bus stop where we boarded a bus.

The mules, equipment and porters go on ahead...
Not a tour bus or nice scenic bus, but a plain backcountry bus. Complete with live chickens and locals going back home from the city (Cuzco). The bus teetered on precipices while navigating high mountain switchbacks on narrow and muddy dirt roads. all the way to Mollepata, Peru... Some two hair-raising hours away. In Mollepata (a very small town) we had a country breakfast packed up the mules and horses with the equipment, who go on ahead with the porters to set up lunch stops and camps. Once our hike began, I realized the hell I was in for. We began to go straight up and up... and up. Yet in nice cool weather. After 4 hours we stopped for lunch. The porters had set up lunch camp in a makeshift mud hut. We had coca tea, soup and spaghetti (always soup, every meal has soup). After hiking for another 3 hours we made our stop in one of the most inspiring places I have ever seen in Soray Pampa. Just amazing with the black, snow covered Andes in the background with low clouds and a carpet of moss and fern in the valley.
Ahhh, the mountains...
Simply incredible. And just the 10 of us (plus staff) in this immense valley at 11,808 feet. We had climbed around 1000 feet in our first day. 10 of us being a couple from Germany, a couple from Switzerland, three from Iowa and two women who had worked together at IBM in North Carolina. All very interesting and fit  people, along with our guide Julio Cesar, 3 porters, a cook and his assistant son.

The temperatures in the valley dropped to well below freezing with some fearful gusts that night -- I could not sleep. I have never and probably never be used to sleeping in tents. every bone and joint hurt that evening, no amount of coca tea helped the vertigo and shortness of breath. We were warned that the next day will be the hardest of the 5 days. I had no idea, or could possibly have imagined, how true those words were.

 

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First camp...
First camp...
The mules, equipment and porters g…
The mules, equipment and porters …
Ahhh, the mountains...
Ahhh, the mountains...
Chaullay
photo by: rob_ert