Hike to La Cumbre – Day 2

Friday 17th July 2015

All photos of this day are photos taken by Bryan with his video camera. Big thanks goes to him as he was a much more careful photographer than me taking very few shots, and made an effort to take a few more shots I begged him to take.

That night, jeez, that was icy. We didn´t have any insulation layer we could use to insulate our body from the floor. This icy floor remained icy no matter what. We barely slept 3 hours. We figured out that sleeping on the side meant less of our body was in contact with the floor. I also grabbed the dogs to get warm, thinking of how Tim Cope had travelled through Siberia for 3 years with his horses and a dog given to him who he had slept with too during his incredible trip from Beijing to Budapest. For Bryan and me, it was the longest night ever. We just kept waking up, and walking a bit to warm up, and waiting for the sunrise to come and warm up the atmosphere. I remember that moment in the night where he said with some hope, hey I can see the line on the horizon, it looks like dawn is coming soon. It was unfortunately a few more hours before that happened. Freeezing. What an experience. Happy to do it once in my life, but not again hopefully!

So as soon as the dawn came, we packed the bags and started walking up. The dogs were very joyful. We had no food left for a brekky and only a bit of water left. We could have refilled our bottles with the water from the house tap, but decided to rather not drink much than refill with a water that would potentially give us the diarrhea!!

The sunrise over the Sierra Nevada was really worth it. We could finally see Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar, which had been completely hidden by the clouds the afternoon before.

All photos – Copyright Bryan Nickerson

First shot at dawn at 5.01am of Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar.


Here is the next shot Bryan took when we had climbed up a bit. We can see La Cumbre houses just below.

la cumbre

A closer shot of Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar

Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar

An even closer shot

Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar

We walked up and up. We could see some tower we wanted to reach at the top at some point, but although it looked close, it was actually quite far.


I started inventing this song and hummering the lyrics.
Shivering all night,
Waiting for the light,
Walking up in the kingdom of spiders,
Towards the big tower
They went with three dogs…
Something…Stopped here. 🙂

Another shot of Pico Colon and Pico Bolivar later on.


And of the beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada around those pics.


At some point we were reaching tree jungles and got frustrated because we could not find where the path was. Not on the left, not straight, not on the right. We walked in circle for about an hour, getting really upset, the lack of sleep, food and water not helping! We thought about turning back the way we had come, but finally we found the path and managed easily from then on to walk up. Although we were supposed to see a small lake on our right which was a holy lake for Kogis people but we saw no lake at all. We finally made it to this gate.


At this stage, it was 7.30am and we had just walked up for 2h30. We were pretty tired and I can´t blame Bryan for deciding not to take any photos anymore during the rest of the day! We kept walking and chatted about the warm coffee we were craving for, the granola or any food really, and drinking a big litre of water. We walked and walked and walked for hours. We finally reached a small shop called Las Rosas around 12.30pm. There we stopped for a good hour and had two awesome coffees, chicken and rice, and bought some bread we gave the dogs as there was no dog food, gave them our chicken bones, and watched the humming birds coming to grab water. We also bought some cheese and mora wine, which is a blackburry wine, and lots of water. It was so awesome to be sitting there. We made it!

After that, we walked for 4 more hours. I had forgotten my trekking poles at the shop of Elcida Ortiz, so we went there and I got them back from her, she had kept them for me and thought about getting them sent to Casa Elemento if I had not turned back that day, how kind of her. From her place back to Casa Elemento was about a 2-hour walk under pouring rain. My goretex jacket turned to be awesome at keeping my t-shirt dry. However after 30 minutes, I started being swimming / floating in my hiking shoes and could tell I would need to put a bit more water repellent on them to make them more water-proof.

While getting closer to Casa Elemento, I bet a beer with Bryan that the dogs would not wait for us and once they got closer would run away to the house. I lost my bet as almost until the end, Luna, Pantera and Bonsy did wait for us! It was nice to be back, to have a warm shower, put some egg craddle in the shoes to dry them, and get a nice Toucan beer and nice dinner and see everyone. I put a new fresh full battery in my camera and took a shot of this beautiful sunset typical of Casa Elemento paradise.


I worked at the night reception so after a quick shower I went there and also helped with the dishes in the evening. I had afterwards the best night sleep ever as I had barely slept 3-4 hours each of the 2 nights before! The ones to who we told about our misadventure said they would have gone nuts about the situation. I was actually glad that neither Bryan nor I did. We just accepted it, that we could not do anything about it, and just went with the flow. Would I or him have moaned about it, complained, made a fuss all night, it would really have created even a worse situation. It was awesome to hike with someone who can just deal with whatever shit happens without thinking about it, and just go through it, forgetting about the crap and focusing instead on the positive aspects of the hike, the incredible landscape, the mist, the clouds dance and the incredible view of Pico Bolivar and the holy Pico Colon, centre of the earth for the Kogis.

Et voila!