This is part 1/3 - Read the full story here.
My sister came to visit me in Cusco and asked if we could go on a trek together. “Certainly,” I said with a big smile on my face. Over the subsequent days we loosely planned a route from Lares to Ollantaytambo, town square to town square, walking the whole way – an almost 65km (40 mi) journey through some pretty rough and rugged terrain. This was to be a very special trip, not only was it with my sister, but I it would be her first ever backpacking trek. It would be difficult, but I knew she was tough and up for the challenge.
The first day we headed out Cusco early, hiking up to Cristo Blanco for a quick sunrise glimpse. Then we flagged down a passing bus and made our way to Calca. Once there we crammed in a colectivo and drove the rest of the way to Lares, where our trekking part was to begin. True to style and form we were winging most of the logistics, my unwavering faith in my abilities to figure things out along the way had treated me well thus far, or maybe I’d just been extremely lucky – time will only tell.
We zipped past a tour group and their cargo mules. However we soon got a little off trail, and this happened a time or two more as the “official” path weaved, combined, and diverged countless times through a maze of alpaca and sheep herders’ paths. Asking the few people we met along the way, we got only puzzled looks and responses in Quechua. I seemed to overlook the fact that deep in the provinces most people don’t speak much Spanish.
So instead of following any particular path we fallowed the valley, making our way up river, up stream to where Abra Ipsay should lay. By noon the clouds began to stick, hanging low as we gained elevation to over 6000 meters. We continued on for several more hours until we were completely beat from the early morning, the climb, and now our hunger. We began searching for a place to camp and eventually set ourselves down just below the pass, amongst the glacial melt ponds and sassy alpacas.
The next morning, I walked out into the cold morning air and saw that the clouds had cleared and I was greeted with a view of glacier superiority…. Continued in Part Two