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Monday, July 1, 2019

Trekking the Peruvian Andes: Huayhuash Trek (Part 2)



Huayhuash Trek, Peru
Trapasio Pass, 5041m


DAY 4: TRAPASIO PASS AT 5,041M – CUYOC CAMPSITE AT 4,400M 

“You can go ahead if you want” Jesus told me during the start of our trek for the day. And that’s what I did. I decided to try to walk with the fast group, or at least keep up with them. I just didn’t want to experience the same ordeal the day before by taking too much time.

The trail was a gradual ascent. I was able to keep up with them, or at least with Camille and Hadar. I was still able to take short breaks but not as long as I wanted to, to catch my breath. I was still chewing coca leaves especially that day since it will be our first 5000m pass.

Eventually we reached the steep part to the pass. It was really steep that I had to take breaks along the way. Suddenly, almost a third left to the top I suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous. I stopped for a bit and just took deep long breaths and slowly made my way up.

“Let’s all welcome Angelica to the fast group!” Aran and the guys welcomed me. Sat down right away and drank water and had some snacks. After a while, we saw down from where we came from was Tyler on a horse and dropped off at the bottom. Soon, I saw Mika on a horse too. Only Bar walked the trail. I realized then that it was a good decision that I walked faster.

And then slowly the group started to walk the remaining trail up to Trapasio Pass. I told them I’ll take my time since I was starting to feel weak and dizzy. Gilad was nice enough to wait for me and told me he’ll pace me.

That walk up was really hard for me. It was so hard to breathe, to walk, I remember just looking at the path we were walking since it was starting to snow lightly. Gilad would tell me to just walk slowly but maintain the pace. Camille eventually joined us. Gilad would encourage me and push me and tell me when to take a short break. He would ask me if I was okay and I would lie. I just thought then that I just want to get up to the pass and get this over and done with.

Eventually we could see it. Gilad walked up faster so he can put down his bag, go back down and help Tyler with his bag too. For some reason, the sight of the big snow-capped peak and the top of the pass pushed me and replaced the weakness I was feeling to elation. I mean fuck, I made it to the top!

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

It was snowing, we weren’t able to go to the glacier because of the weather. So we just enjoyed that we all made it to the pass. My first 5000m pass!

Huayhuash Trek, Peru
six lakes!

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

The way down was hard though. Just on loose flat volcanic rocks and mud. But the view was stunning despite it being gray and cloudy. We saw six lakes with different colors.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Arthur and Aran were of course the fastest ones again. Gilad and I ended up walking down together. He probably adjusted to my pace but eventually asked me when it started to rain hard if I prefer maintaining the pace and getting wet from the rain, or walk faster. I immediately answered the latter. I walked so fast then until we got to campsite. The hardest part wasn’t over though because the campsite was on the other side of the river. It took us a while to find a spot with big boulders so we can cross. Because of the rain, the river was deeper so it proved to be quite a challenge.

We were all wet when we got to the big tent. The mood was a bit quiet during the start. I think everyone started to feel the toll of 4 days of walking with the worst weather conditions. It got worse when we learned the choices we had to make the next day.

We were supposed to go to another 5000m pass after settling in the camp. But because of the weather, we couldn’t do it anymore. The boys still wanted to do it, which meant doing two passes the next morning. To manage everyone, our guide decided that if anyone would want to do both, they would have to walk really fast so they can catch up to the group that will only do one pass.

So people had to decide that night. Everyone was tired so we weren’t really that enthusiastic anymore. But for me, I knew that I couldn’t do any of the passes. So I decided I’ll go with Tyler who continued to have altitude sickness and Eden who did parts of the trail on horse because of an injury prior to the start of the trek.

Everyone was surprised when they found out I wasn’t doing any of the passes. And I explained why. I was tired and I couldn’t keep up with them anymore without suffering from the altitude. And I was scared to find myself walking alone because of it. Here is when I found myself tearing up a bit again.

The boys and Camille were nice enough to convince me to do one pass. Arthur told me I can do it, and that I should do it. I found out Aran even thought of just pacing me because he didn’t think he could do the two passes. But we all convinced him that of course he could do both. Gilad sat me down and told me I could do it, that the last few days was just me adjusting to the altitude. He even asked Hadar if he could wait for me on every turning point. Which I said is the one thing I didn’t want to be, a burden. But I promised all of them that I would think about it that night.

DAY 5: SAN ANTONIO PASS 5,100M – HUAYLLAPA VILLAGE 3,487M 

Huayhuash Trek, Peru
another Andean morning

Woke up and decided I will give it a try. Like fuck it, I’m only here once. Gilad, Aran, Arthur, Lotar, and Camille (because she’s a badass like that) went with Jesus and left early to do the two passes.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru
typical morning

I joined Soledad (our super young cheery and nice guide), Hadar, Lior, Bar, and Mika to do San Antonio Pass. It was a challenge again crossing the river, Bar actually fell. Poor guy. Just on the other end of the valley is a narrow steep path on loose gravel, up to a flat part where we could finally see the pass. And it was a really steep climb!

Huayhuash Trek, Peru
going up to San Antonio Pass

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

But it was sunny then. A welcome respite from days of bad weather. I let all of them walk ahead of me. I put on my earphones and played Beyonce’s Lemonade album on loop. It helped. I made my way up. It wasn’t easy though. There was a part with loose rock and stream coming down from melted ice up the mountains. Eventually we reached the last part on just loose muddy soil. It was so steep you could really feel it on your calves right away. We would have to stop from time to time too to remove the mud from our boots because they were making it heavier. Some parts you have no choice but to walk really fast because you will slide back down if you don’t.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Eventually I made it up. And what a sight! Just mountain ranges of snow capped mountains, torquoise lakes. That’s what I loved about passes. How it’s all a surprise. There’s no slow preview as you go up. You just suffer and work to get to the top. But as soon as you reach it, on the other side is a stunning view waiting for you. We took our time there. In less than half an hour, the boys and Camille were already making their way up and crossed from the other side of the trail.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru
San Antonio Pass

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

I hugged all of them as soon as they got up. They’re all amazing especially Camille. I’m so glad they encouraged me to do it. The boys did admit though that it was hard, and they were already tired. They were grateful that they had to stop for a few minutes to wait for Camille. They saw it as an opportunity to take a short break as Jesus was walking fast. haha

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Making our way down was fun. We zigzagged at first, and eventually just ran straight because it was faster. The day remained sunny until lunch. It was a long long walk to the village at 3,487m from a 5000m pass.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

The night we had a feast of lamb cooked traditionally, and a semblance of ‘hot shower’. What a treat! 

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

DAY 6: TAPUSH PASS 4,800M – 4,400M CAMPSITE 

The boys decided to take it ‘slow’ that day. I decided to still maintain a good pace. Because I knew that eventually they will go fast and I couln’t be left behind again. I walked the trail to the pass with Camille. We would have our earphones on and take breaks together.

Eventually we reached a point around lunch time and decided to wait for the rest of the group because we were already hungry. We waited for quite a while. The rest of the crew with the donkeys eventually passed us, one was looking for Arthur because he’s always fast. haha And one said to just stay put because we were about to have lunch there.

When the rest of the group reached us, it started to lightly rain again. And the guides decided to just have lunch somewhere else and continue walking. I didn’t like that decision, because for the first time I was doing a good pace. Camille and I were, and we felt we just wasted a good 30minutes waiting for them.

But Camille didn’t take it lightly. She was understandably complaining to me already. We were both tired and really hungry. The boys were starting to get pissed too with how everything was being handled. So they started walking fast. Of course.

Camille was telling me he’d talk to Jesus and insist on eating lunch. I told her she can do that but I just really wanted to just walk and get to wherever we will have lunch at. I was close to crying then but I just pushed on.

The boys were way ahead of us, as I expected. My effort to maintain a good pace wasted as I was being left behind again. The people in horses started to pass us. I looked back at Camille and saw her starting to cry. That’s when I cried too. And we just laughed at each other. We’re women, we curse and we cry. She gave me chocolate because we were starting to get weak.

Eventually we could see the pass. But I saw that no one was setting up anything. They all had their bags on. So I told Camille I don’t think lunch would be served there. We were desperate then, out of exhaustion. We tried to shout at them to wait for us. Because we wanted to insist to have lunch there because the rain already stopped. We walked fast. But nothing.

Camille started to walk faster. And then suddenly stopped as we were maybe a few hundred meters from the pass. She looked back at me and she started sobbing. I did too. This time no more laughing. We were sobbing and ugly crying then. I was just so tired and hungry. It was almost 2pm then, at least 7 hours of walking and hiking/ascent of 1.3kms in altitude.

The boys saw us and rushed to us. They comforted us. I followed Camille to the pass, put down our bags. And just started laughing and crying, then laughing, and crying again while eating snacks from the boys.

Some started to go down. Gilad insisted on carrying my bag, I said no. But he just grabbed it and started his way down with the others. Arthur stayed with us. Let’s just say I snapped at one of the boys when I didn’t like what he asked me. I was asked why I was walking fast when I could have just taken my time too like them, so I wouldn’t be so tired and hungry. I just told him I wasn’t blaming anyone for anything, and that I just didn’t want to talk to him anymore. And he was asking me why I was mad. I just didn’t want to waste the remaining energy I had arguing with him.

In my head, I was thinking that that was the only time I was able to maintain a good pace because I knew they will eventually walk fast and I will be left behind (which is what happened), and I got blamed for how I was feeling. I wanted to answer back that they have been walking way too fast the last five fucking days. Can I also ask them about that too?! I was so pissed. Camille was too.

Oh Camille and I was just laughing and cursing the whole time on our way down. It was so much fun. I found a new friend who is as strong willed and loves to curse like I do. And we were at the same age range too, she was 30, I was 33.

Eventually we made it to the campsite. Camille and I just hanged out at our individual tents and sometimes together, bitching about what happened that day. Let’s just say the mood in the tent that night got a little tense as they talked about how things have been handled the last few days especially that day. I didn’t say anything and just decided to walk out and just didn’t want to be part of any of it. I think we were all just really tired from six days of walking and being wet and cold, and the rain continued to make it worse for us.

DAY 7: YAUCHA PASS 4800M – 4000M PASS 

I gave in the night before and decided to drink bioflu just to get a proper sleep. And I did. Finally. It continued to rain, it continued to be muddy. But we pushed on. I think almost all of us then were just over it. The boys continued to walk fast; Camille, Hadar and I walked together and just took our time. As we got to the pass, we found the boys hiding underneath a boulder getting shelter from the rain. I brought out my shiny raincoat and was put to good use!


Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

There were two viewpoints that we could go to before going down to our last campsite for the trek. Camille and I immediately passed up and just wanted to take our time going down. It was raining and so cloudy, we knew we will not be able to see much anyways. We just wanted to get to the campsite and chill.

Camille brought out her speakers and we just played songs from the 90s-2000s. Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child era. We took our time, had long breaks waiting for the others who didn’t go to the view points.


Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Down at the valley, and nearing the campsite we reached a swampy area. There were big stones we could step on to cross but were quite far from each other and slippery. Of course I was overconfident and said I can go ahead. And of course I fell and got myself muddy and wet! And bended my trekking pole too. Never be overconfident in the mountains, guys. I was gross. I could feel mud around my ass and lower back. So as soon as we made it to the campsite. I borrowed a pail from the crew, went down to the river, carried it back up to the toilet and washed myself.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

There was another lake we could visit. Camille said she will just go fishing and told me I should join her. I said sure. The boys eventually changed their minds and just joined us. We did walk far though to the river. We first looked and dug soil for worms for bait, I learned that you will find them under the small rocks. Let’s just say fishing isn’t really for me. After like an hour and when it started to rain again, we all decided to walk back to the tent.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

But the rest of our guides/crew of course were able to fish a lot of trout for our last dinner for the night. It was more of a celebratory mood that night at the big tent. Last night and finally back to our beds, clean clothes, and hot shower!


DAY 8: LLAMAC – HUARAZ 

Weather cooperated with us and started to get sunny. We just made our way down to the village of Llamac. The trail was mostly on path carved out of the side of mountains. It was a long walk but we were just all excited to go back to comfort.

And of course, I suddenly felt blisters, maybe 3 or 4 around my feet. Hated it, but glad that they came out on our last day.

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

Huayhuash Trek, Peru

It was a hard, physically and mentally challenging 8-day trek in Huayhuash. But it was beyond stunning and amazing. I just trekked the Peruvian Andes!

Huayhuash Trek, Peru



Here's the first part.