‘Jeeze I feel so freakin fat’ I said across the room as I unimpressively stared at my belly in the mirror of our room in La Paz. ‘Yeah I’m defs starting to get a little belly on me, and I can barely run without having a heart attack’ yawned Lachie. He didn’t really say that but I know he was thinking it. And Pat just looked terrible, nothing unusual.
After sitting on the bikes for so long in Bolivia and eating icecream twice a day (legit no regrets though, holy shit that stuff is good), we decided that we’d spend three months doing as many treks as we can in Peru. We googled the top 10 hikes in Peru and nearly immediately decided we’d do 7 of them, accumulating to 400+ kms in Canyons, the Andes and the jungle. After figuring that we would be screwed if we attempted some of these hikes in the physical state we we’re in, it was collectively, and damn right stupidly decided that the Ausangate trek would be the perfect warm up before tackling another 200km hike we had in mind.
The Ausangate trek is a track around Ausungate, an impressive 6600m mountain. The track doesn’t dip below 4000m and there are four passes, some of them 5000m+ to tackle. With a absurdly large deposit of carbohydrates and fats stored in our muscles, liver and adipose tissues as a result of literally no exercise since Patagonia, we knew we we’re up for it.
The ride to Cusco was insanely epic, and you can read about it here. With heavy packs, a map and eagerness to get back into the mountains by foot, we set off towards Ausangate. We arrived in true Dumbthings style at the trail head at 4:30pm, leaving us with a little less that two hours to get to the first campsite before the cold night set in. A big storm started brewing over the mountain but thankfully didn’t decide to totally screw us over just yet.
Arriving to the campsite fully stoked, we cooked dinner and a bloody adorable dog, who we intuitively named Clive (despite being female) joined us and slept right next to the tent as it lightly snowed overnight.
The old three people in a 2 man tent game was well played during the night, and seeing a playful Clive in the morning was a refuge for my mind after a night spent trying to teach Lachie what he can and can’t do with other peoples private space. He is learning though.
That day was a solid banger. We climbed two passes at 4400m and 4600m and walked 19km, passing some incredible lagunas along the way. With Ausangate to the left of us the whole way, our exhausted legs we’re forgotten as we took in the beauty of the surreal environment we we’re walking through. No matter how exhausted we we’re, everytime we stopped to take a look around we we’re in awe of such striking environments. We arrived at our first camp just before an afternoon snowstorm made it’s way through, covering the campsite by the Laguna with a few cm of snow. There was a small shelter with a toilet that Lachie and I slept in for the night. Gotta do what ya gotta do. The best part of the whole entire day was that Clive decided she was up for the track too, and energetically walked by our side every step of the way.
Waking up in a rather dirty bathroom is a good way to start the day, but nothing beats a 600m climb over a 5200m pass early in the morning. Fuelled by instant oats and love for Clive, who slept in the vestibule of Pat’s tent, we set off to start a huge day. Surprisingly, we smashed the climb in just over an hour, and then had a cruisy 15km of walking down and through a valley to get to our next camp.
Exhausted, we finished a truly epic day, so damn grateful to be feeling the burn and barley seeing any other people out in the Andes of Peru. If Pat is good for one thing, it’s taking speccy photos, and these flicks from camp that night are prime examples. We fed Clive and she snuggled up in the vestibule of the tent again as we crammed inside and fell straight asleep as soon as the sun went down (6pm).
Waking as soon as the sun rose (6am), that energy that comes from getting back in touch with the bodies natural circadian rhythm got us psyched for one last climb and a final 20km stint back to a village. 600m of vertical later and we had a snack at the top of the pass whilst taking in the sublime view of the 6000m giants that surrounded us. Clive was also doing her best to as photogentic as she could be, and I hope you enjoy the collection of photos of her as much as we do.
We made it to the small village with no money to get a bus to Cusco. Thankfully the driver trusted us that we’d pay him later and with that came the most tragic part of the whole journey; saying goodbye to our beloved Clive. The tears will flow if I recollect my memories of that moment so I’ll just say it was so damn sad.
Nevertheless, we’d done it. An incredibly tough hike stoked the excitement of what was to come in the next few weeks: a 250km trek through the Andes along incan trails and through incredible ruins. More to come.