Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Paramount Pictures Presents...

I am here in Huaraz, Peru. The mountain town tucked away in the Andes. This area includes two mountain ranges Cordillera Negra (The Black Range) and Cordillera Blanca(The White Range) that are filled with ruins, lagoons, waterfalls, marshes, thermal spas and some of Peru´s highest peaks.
So I decided....must ENJOY!!!!! I decided to do the 4 day Santa Cruz loop Trek. I signed up witha company for a guide, and a group was created. Dan and Justin from NY. Magda and Majik from Poland, Anne from France, and Chong from S. Korea, along with our guide Abel and our donkeys.

We started out with a ride to the small town of Colcabamba. We passed by the lakes of Llanganuco that you see in the photos. It is comprised of two lakes, the male lake, and the female lake. The female lake is the crystal blue one in the pictures. It was the bluest lake I´ve ever seen, turquoise and beautiful. We then made our way up the mountains, passed snow line, got a flat tire for an hour, and made our way down to the village of Colcabamba where we started our Santa Cruz trek.

We headed out into the valley and hiked through two valleys before it started pouring rain. We had to break out our ponchos for the slight chance that we would keep our stuff dry, but it was definitely pouring rain. We reached our third valley which was gorgeous even during the rain. Filled with rivers, red-barked trees, bogs, lakes, marshes, and horses. It felt like ¨the passing thru the marshes¨of Lord of the Rings. I went to take a picture and stepped on a mound of grass about 3 ft. wide and it started sinking! it was a floating mound of land, and i was too heavy. thought it was gonna suck me up!!!We made our way thru this valley for the first night and set up camp between two rivers. Everybody was soakin´wet, but still having fun. We stocked up on some good food, chewed coca leaves for altitude, and made our ways to bed at 7¨30pm.

We were woken up the next morning by our guide abel and coca tea. The morning view was gorgeous!!! The mountains of Cordillera Blanca amazing looking- see the photos!!! We packed up and headed more up the valley for the second day. This day was the hardest, constant incline. The valley was amazing, gigantic rock walls, high snow-covered peaks, tons of lagoons, and SUN!!!! We made our way to the base of the mountains and made our way up the intense incline to reach Punta Union (elv. 4750 m, 15000ft)
It was an intense incline but awesome. We reached the snow and could see an INCREDIBLE view of the Andean range from the top, peaks as far as you could see. Amazing!!!! And right next to us was Mt. Taulliraju. We could also see the Paramount Pictures mountain, the mountain the company uses as their logo (without the circle of stars of course- who would of guessed? i didn´t even think it was a real mountain, but here it is in teh Andean range!) As we were sitting at the Union eating lunch and admiring the beautiful valley and lake view below we heard this really loud sound, like a plane. We looked up the mountain and there was an avalanche that fell right in our plain sight. We got to see in action a fairly sized avalanche, awesome!!!! thats a first! We then started our decent into the valley, got below snow line and made camp before the thunder and lighting hit and it rained all night. The third day begun with a bit of rain, but mostly cleared up. More coca tea to start the day and plenty of liquids (the best tasting water, fresh snow melt water is delicious!!!!) The third day we made our way to Laguna Arhuaycocho (i´ll get pictures up very soon) and got to see more avalanches that fell above the lake. The snow was also falling right into the lake. We also had killer views of Mt. Alpamaya (named a most beautiful mountain, in some year that i forget). We made our decent into the valley again and passed more marshes and beautiful scenery. It was all just too beautiful. (My camera also didn´t work pass Punta Union, so i´m getting pictures sent to me...be patient) The last part of the third day and the fourth day we spent declining the valley and admiring the beauty of the Andes. We all had a blast. And I´m so glad I did it! lifetime experience. It turned out ot be a 64 km (40miles) 4-day trek through the Andes.

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