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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Las Cajas - Remix

There are certain things that I never thought I'd find myself doing (despite what I've said under the influence of alcohol) and buying hiking gear is one of them. The list was long, with crazy things like hiking boots, trekking pants and gaiters. (Those are things that wrap around your legs and hook on to your boots, to protect your lower legs/pants, popular for skiing in the 80's.) Then I had to find a waterproof jacket and a warm hat, never mind the head lamps and neck warmers. It can be an expensive proposition, but well worth it, if you're going to spend several days on the trekking trail.
All decked out
I geared up and felt like a poser. I'm not a took me a little over an hour to hike up the Grouse Grind (for those unfamiliar, here's a reference:, not exactly a record, or even a gold star for my good health. Anyhow, here I am looking like an ad for some outdoor store (Mountain Equipment Co-op comes to mind) with my borrowed backpack and "sport" sunglasses. (Okay, I had those already, I use them for running.) While Ron wore the stuff comfortably, I was a fraud. Six hours later, I was able to claim my right to the togs. I'd crested inclines, reached an altitude of 14,000 ft (almost 4,300 metres) and trudged through rain and drizzle, and faced the gusting wind. Having stared in to the gale we, admittedly, turned around and headed back. Who really wants to hike for 2 hours into driving rain, if you don't have to?

The misty, high part was where we hiked up to.
I was muddy up to the knees, had broken my (already sad) finger nails and had a dirty caboose from slipping in the mud. I was jubilant; having wet wipes does amazing things for my outlook! Sure, I chugged up the hills, bringing to mind the little engine that could, or an asthmatic without their inhalator, but I'd done it.

So we decided to go again - how better to prep for the Salkantay Trail, in Peru? Our trek started out hiking immediately uphill. I couldn't breathe, I wanted to just sit down and let the rest of the group pick me up on the way back, but Ron was having none of it. He cajoled, bullied and cheered my slow progress up the first couple of inclines and then the miracle happened. I still huffed and puffed, but it was manageable. The trail dipped and rose and I was glad that I hadn't given up. Needless to say, the scenery was stunning.

We were in to the trail for about and hour and half, when our old nemesis showed up; not just driving rain, but sleet, heavy and hard, barreling across the lake we'd just stopped at to fuel up. The noise was amazing, but the cold wind and hard pellets were not welcome. It was another line in the sand and we turned back and raced down the same path we'd just walked, trying to outrun the storm. 
The storm chasing us over the ridge.
After the first crest, the rain abated and we successfully avoided the worst of the storm. I was  sad that we had to shut the hike down early, but glad that we weren't soaking wet and bruised from the hail. One day, we'll complete that hike.
Crazy flora...

Yup, that's right, I'm contemplating going out there again, even after our five day odyssey in Peru. I mean, really, why waste all that hiking gear? So for those of you that like the idea, but don't think you can do...well, you'll never know until you try. You might just take to it.
And we met this little guy at the end of the hike...pretty cute, right?

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