Santa Cruz Trek – Day 1

Saturday 12th September 2015

The guy from Huascaran agency picked me up by walk at 5.40am and we walked together to the agency. There were already the 3 Canadians from Toronto, Matt, his fiance Rebecca and her sister Rachel. We got into the minivan and Paulino, the agency owner, made sure everything was loaded into the van for the trek. Then the minivan shoot off, going to pick up Mary and Adrian, an Australian couple from Melbourne, and Matt, an American guy living in New York. It was going to be an anglo-speaking community and I was super happy to speak fluent English but also to have lived one year in Michigan previously, visited Canada and to be living in Australia. That helped me feel at ease with that group! I love anglo-speaking groups, it is hard to explain, but somehow I find the anglo-speaking culture always more relaxed and cheerful than any and I really love that vibe!

On the way to the trekking start point, there was this garbage collector trek which had 3 soft toys on top of it, sounds like a dog, a bear and a lion. I could imagine some people had thrown them away in the garbage truck one day and the guys had decided to put them at the top of their truck cabin instead as mascottes. Quirky! 🙂

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The sun was just waking up and half of the valley was still asleep in shade.

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It was exciting to see snow peaks around.

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We started going higher up, the view of the valley was gorgeous.

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We got to the Llanganuco Post of Control.

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There we registered and bought our pass to the Cordillera Blanca area.

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Shortly after, we got a flat tyre. It was very funny to observe the Peruvian way of fixing a tyre. Put a stone under it. Put the thingy key in the bolt, put your feet on it, grab the top of the truck and jump on it to turn it to loosen the bolts.

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They were pretty efficient and quick at changing the wheel and very quickly we were back on the road.

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We passed this beautiful lake, two of them like this actually.

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Kept going up.

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We passed this man walking behind his cows.

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We got to the trek starting point. Toilet stop in the nature for some. Shared the coca leaves around. We got a super cool snack bag from Huascaran.

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And off we started walking towards Laguna 69.

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This way

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Beautiful path already.

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Snow peak hiding in clouds.

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Off we continued through a valley.

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Pretty flowers.

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Waterfall on the left of our path.

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Mary reminded me, don`t forget to look behind, it is gorgeous! You can see a bit of the path just walked.

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And we are heading there. I loved those snow peaks but also the cloud movements.

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We made a stop at that lake to eat some of the snacks.

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Walked through this plain. See the natural curve going kind of up on the left, that`s where we were heading.

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There was a sign to a path to our right going to “Nev. Yanapaccha, Laguna Brogui”, but we went left to Laguna 69.

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What a pretty landscape

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I started having a headache, damn it, always get that in the first days at 4,000m. We kept going up. Getting finally closer to the lake, on the left you can see a bit of the waterfall which turned to be falling into it.

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Looking behind the way we have come.

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Hey, hey, first glimpse of the lake, and what a colour!! I was getting excited!!

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What an amazing blue!

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Juanitette the Spitufa, posing. Happy to be back into hiking. Forgot to show her the Galapagos actually, oooops.

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Ok, the lake is pretty, but that walk to Laguna 69 is quite touristy. That day we kept running into so many people, I realised I really loved El Cocuy National Park for the fact that you would run into maximum 7 people each day! Regardless, the lake was really stunning and worth going to check it out!

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Some people dared jump into the freezing water like this girl.

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I really loved the snow peaks in the background. The shape reminds me a bit of the Cappadocia peaks in Turkey.

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I loved the variation of blue in this lake, the dark blue, turquoise, clearer blue. We lingered around there for a good half-hour at least, eating the rest of our snacks, taking photos, having a break. The altitude was around 4,400 metres I think. Need to check out the GPS when I get a hand on it.

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Juanitette posing.

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Started to walk back the way we had come. I was not very talkative that day I remember, didn`t have yet any deep meaningful conversation, just had this bloody headache hammering the head. For me that first day was actually the hardest of all. Saying that, my bad, I had not taken the time to go for an acclimatisation walk in altitude the day before as most of them had and I was paying the price for my laziness with an abrupt speeded acclimatisation that day.

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Kept walking and enjoying this mindblowing setup. I love how the mountains diagonals work, creating beautiful patterns, not only that but also all the variations of colours we can find in the brown, grey, white, the shades, the lit-up areas, the clouds in the sky. We had just started walking and I was already impressed by the diversity of what we saw in the landscape.

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We passed this family cow having a drink.

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Continuing to walk.

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We passed again those stone huts. I asked Arti, our guide what they were for. He gave me a vague answer though. They were not inhabited anymore but used from times to times by passing people. Ok.

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Saw a few donkeys like this one.

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What a stunning landscape hein? Imagine yourself in there. You are just walking. There is just you and that incredible landscape, nothing else, no need to think of work, of house, of goods, of anything, you are just present in the immediate moment and the only thing you have to do is to put one foot in front of the other, in the perfect silence of the mountains, broken only by the sound of birds sometimes or waterfalls. Isn’t that part of a paradise we should all get to more often? There is such a magical thing in the way walking in mountains calms you down, you are just at peace there, it is minimalist and pure, no clutter, no bother. In one way, it is AWESOOMMMMEE!! 😀 Still reading this? Just bloody quit your job for a while and get out there, the travel and the mountains in particular are waiting for you…

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Rachel pointed to me that the cows here were more colourful than anywhere else, I had not really paid attention but that`s true, they have quite vibrant colours and patterns!

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Getting closer to this lake, we would camp with a view similar to this.

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Almost there, the river nearby had such an icy grey colour.

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I arrived tired like a zombie, pitched my tent, and we had later dinner, a nice type of risotto.

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In the evening, the sky was so pretty. I love mountain skies, they are the best ones, the milky way was so visible and gorgeous. Took a few night shots with my gorillapod, 12mm wide angle lens and timer.

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Got that one too. Funny enough, when taking the shot, I could not see any of that orange light, but somehow the camera picked it up from who knows where.

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Another shot of the mountains shape and stars.

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The night was not too cold. The day had not been either actually. Even if we were between 4,000 and 4,500 meters the whole time, it was way “warmer” than what I had experienced at the same altitude in the El Cocuy National Park.

We were parked next to a road, there was a van nearby and I remember being woken up by another car coming later in the night. It was around 3am, and when I checked outside, Orion constellation was up in the stars. I have 2 favourite constellations, Scorpion and Orion. They are both so pretty! So here is Orion, a rectangle with 3 stars aligned, called the Orion harness.

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What is interesting with those two constellations actually is that you can never see them at the same time in the sky. And here comes the reason why.

Orion and Scorpion

Good night!