Being the only anticipated hike prior to leaving Australia, the 7-12 day Huayhuash circuit had a lot to live up too. We nervously got ready to go unguided for up to 12 days through and around 6000m giants, expecting snowstorms, running out of food and getting lost. Somewhat fortunately, the journey was smooth, and filled with unparralled moments of beauty.
Joined by the Ben, some random Norwegian that accidentally thought we we’re mentally stable enough to hang out with, we stepped foot into the back of a truck to take us to the trail head. Shaking around like a stick in a hand of a three year old we all knew there was no better way to start of a hike than in the back of a truck in the middle of no-where.
The trek started nice and gently, with a 800m steep climb up a relatively crumbley path. At close to 4000m, Ben found this exceptionally fun given he was not at all acclimatised, only arriving in Peru two days earlier ‘She’ll be right’, was the assumed attitude he’d take on. We cruised down the other side of the path and trotted 8+kms to our first campsite, getting out first glimpse at the mountains we’d be skirting around for the next 8 days.
Zipping up the drawstring, the sound of clipping in the hip strap buckle and adjusting the shoulder straps on our 85l packs is a satisfying moment. That moment, the day starts, you take your first step on those heavy legs, ready for your eyes to be treated as you put one foot infront of the other on a barley formed trail. Nothing beats that, except for Pats smile hehe. Day two exemplified this in all it’s truth and beauty. Walking through boggy marshland, listening to glaciers crumble in the distance, smiling as we walk through a small snowstorm and setting up camp, by ourselves, at our own magical laguna, was the epitome of fkn awesome.
Waking up to the sights and sounds of avalanches and crumbling glaciers plummet into to Lagunas below, we were then joined by a bunch of other groups keen to get their share of the scenery. For breakfast we had unsweetened watery oats with cocao with a side of huge fkn mountain. By that, I mean a steep 1km climb over a pass at 8am.
Panting all the way to the top, our new dutch and Israeli mates did their classic dutchie and Israeli thing and shared some of their delicious sugar filled snacks with us. You guys seriously rock.
Up and down with 6000m mountains around us we’d walk another 6h to reach camp with the other groups, continuously sharing food along the way (or taking food… you be the judge). A dip in the icy creek at camp soothed the uncomfortable rashes that we’re forming in uncomfortable places and put truth in the saying ‘you never regret a swim’.
The next days we’re spent in the exact same fashion, forcing ourselves over passes to be rewarded by the utmost insane views. Camping and sharing (or taking…) food and conversation with beautiful humans was the cherry on top of the tiring days. Being the last big hike of our trip, there was a lot of appreciation flowing through the group given the fact that we are even able to be in these situations. Perched between mountains that strike through the thin air, in the valleys, by the rivers and in the clouds that all live and breath around this rugged environment.
To be standing in the middle of all that, no roads, no shops, barely any other humans, no signs, no noise other than that of Pats huge mouth or of nature itself. Standing there, with everything you need to survive hugging closely to your back, chest & hips is so damn cool. I can’t count the amount of moments (partially due to my illiteracy) we’re we’d all look at each other, in absolute awe that we have able bodies, enough time, money and willingness to actively chase these moments, because sometimes it’s hard to step outside of our uniquely developed bubbles of comfort. When you do, beauty awaits.
Most hiking conversations revolve around food given the feeling of hunger felt during most hours of the day. So, as we walked with a lovely Dutch girl (Yena) for the last few days, 82% of every word coming out of our mouths had something to do with Dutch Pancakes. 78% percent of that was about her making us Dutch pancakes upon completion of the hike. Arriving back at the hostel late at night, download the AFL grandfinal, buying enough snacks to feed a tribe and cooking Dutch Pancakes would have made any grown man cry. Including me.
Until next time,