The early sun’s rays just began to lick the tops of the mountains across the valley. It was chilly but not cold. It was a perfect morning for trekking and my mind floated with pleasant thoughts as we walked through the plaza and fields behind, past the abandoned fútbol pitch and out to the canyon rim. From here we descended down and down and down even more, almost a thousand meters to a bridge over the Colca River. In the back of my mind I new the rule of canyon hiking: what goes down must come up.
But any thoughts of the return trip up were quickly whisked away with breathtaking vistas and the simple pleasures of being on the trail. As morning turned to day, clouds began to collect along the rim on the canyon offering some relief from the piercing sun, but also harbingers of the afternoon thunderstorms yet to come....
We passed through Llahuar en route, stopping only briefly to eat avocado and hardboiled egg sandwiches. From there the trail went up at a steep incline, but our fresh legs were up for the task. The day progressed and we adopted a “perro del camino,” named him Bert and let him lead the way – our final destination the small enclave of Fure. On our approach to the end of the valley, tributary rivers cascaded down from impossibly tall heights and towering waterfalls boomed. Awestruck on our final bridge, just minutes from camp we stood still, we watched and listened to the shear power of the torrents as they dusted us with fine particulates of water.
By the time we arrived at Fure, nine hours later, our fresh legs were put through it all. We were tired, exhausted, but our spirits we soaring with the accomplishment. Continuing to will away the rain for just a little while longer we hurried to set up camp, before it was back down to the river to collect and filter water. We cooked and went strait to sleep, Bert included. The rains came only in the middle of the night – gracing us with a rare full day of rain-free trekking. Loudly announcing their presence, they woke me just once out of my exhaustion only briefly enough to notice.
Early the next morning after a breakfast of avena we were off again…. The clouds swirled ‘round as the sun tried to pierce through them. Story continues with more photos in Part Two.