Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Last Days in Huaraz

Thursday, our third day, was by far the coolest day for Adam and me. On this day we hiked up to Glacier Pastoruri, and then a little more. First, this area is in a National Park that is temporarily closed. Our guide promised we would get to touch snow, a goal for most of the Peruvians there that live at sea level (Including Hugo and Sarita). As we made it to the park entrance, our guide, along with the people on the tour, pleaded with the gate keeper to give us just a couple of hours. After much bartering and pleading she gave us three hours to get up this mountain and back. As we drove up to the trail head we passed many neat sights. The first of those being hieroglyphics. After that we were shown a crazy looking cactus-like plant that only grows in the Andies in Peru. It is related to the pineapple and is one of the most ancient plants in the world. It lives up to 100 years old, flowers once in its life, then dies after it flowers (although facts differ depending on who you ask). Unfortunately (for us, not the plant) we did not see any with flowers.
Here are the hieroglyphics seen on a steep, smooth, tall rock in the park on our way to Pastoruri. There is a man running, squiggly lines, a serpent-like creature, sun, and other things that are more faded.
Once at the trail head, Adam and I ditched the group and hauled up the mountain. Knowing we only had a limited amount of time, our goal was not to touch snow (we've done that once or twice!), but to climb to Pastoruri, a peak just shy of 18,000ft. Soon into our hike we had pulled quite a ways away from our group. We past the starting point for the snow and kept trekking. I stopped hiking to the sound of our guide hollering and waving his arms, motioning us to come back down. Bummer! When we reached the group at the base of the snow our guide informed us that Pastoruri had many crevasses that can be very dangerous. Thankful, but disappointed we stayed with the group and toured the glacier ice cave just below the peak. Adam reached about 5400m (17,712ft) and I about 5300m before we had to turn back. It is the highest we have ever been on foot, and surprisingly did not feel much different from our 14ers back home. What a neat view!
I cant complain about the natural ice cave either. It was very cool to be able to walk inside the glacier, although the caution sign said not to enter. In the picture below, I am in the entrance of the ice cave. My alpaca sweater was the perfect thing to keep me warm the entire time. I was surprised it was not colder so high up in altitude and in an ice cave. It was a very neat experience. I wish the pictures could do it justice.
Unfortunately, the altitude did bother some people and Hugo and Sarita never made it to play in the snow. However, the snow made its way to Hugo and Sarita. Adam and I packed our alpaca hats full of snow and ran it back down to where they were waiting on the group.
This was thier first time to ever touch or see snow! They were very thankful and had just enough to make a little snowman. They also had a snowball fight and tasted the snow. I told them what we all need to learn with snow... don't eat the yellow stuff. They named thier snowman Jose David, after the little one year old they look after at the albergue.
On Friday, we got a tour of the city, did some last minute shopping, then headed back to the Albergue. This is the view of Huaraz. It is a very beautiful city.
There is always a photo op. in Huaraz. Here there was a woman walking her llama. It was so cool to see, and have, such an authentic experience in Peru! The people don't mind doing the photo op. for an occasional sole or two(the Nuevo Sol is the money used in Peru). Overall, we had some of the best food, and best tours on this trip. We would love to come back in the future and tackle one of the mountains here.

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