Huaraz, Peru, South America
I had an awesome day hiking to Laguna 69! It was a really early start, and about a three hour drive up to the Huascaran National Park. My minibus had 15 people and we were from all over the place, and everyone spoke english, so it was a nice group to travel with. Most people slept on the bus on the way up there, and we made a quick stop at another lake on the way into the park where we first saw the incredible blue color of the lake. We continued on another five minutes and then started our walk with our guide, Leonardo.
We were told that the walk was really three separate walks, the first hour was easy, the second hour was moderate, and the third hour was difficult. They were absolutely correct. The first hour was mostly flat ground, just a moderate incline, then it got a little steeper, and the last hour was brutal. The top altitude we got to was 4,600m, and it made a pretty huge difference. It was tough to breath, especially going up such steep inclines. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it at one point because it was so tough. Luckily I had a couple of other people who were feeling the same way and we all pushed each other to get to the top. Mark (the french guy from yesterday) was on the same walk today, and I saw that he was constantly ahead of me and I didn’t want to hear from him later on how awesome the lake was.
I pushed on and made it there, and it was so worth it. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in South America. The water is this amazing blue color, and it’s surrounded by these snow covered mountains. It was absolutely stunning. By the way, it’s called Laguna 69 because this park has so many lakes that they didn’t want to come up with names for each one, so they just numbered them. Nothing more to it, apparently.
We all arrived at the lake at different times, because of course the altitude affects everyone differently, so some people took about an hour longer to get up than the first people to arrive. That gave us plenty of time to enjoy the lake and eat our lunches that we brought up with us. It was a really beautiful scene, and we got really lucky with the weather. It was sunny with blue skies almost the whole day, so we couldn’t have asked for better weather.
The hike back down to the van only took an hour and 45 minutes, because it is just that much easier dealing with the altitude when you have gravity on your side. It was a really nice walk, but again, everyone goes at their own pace, so I made it back about an hour before the last people showed up. It was no big deal though because it was such a beautiful place, I didn’t mind being stuck there. We had our three hour drive back to Huaraz and everyone was absolutely exhausted. Most of us got some sleep in the van, and we got back to the city at about 6pm. I was starving and all I could think about was that plate of fajitas that Shimon had last night, so I went back at had it for myself. It was awesome! I don’t know when the next opportunity to have mexican food will be, so I took advantage tonight.
I went out and bought my bus ticket for Lima tomorrow so I’ll be taking off at 11am, which is a great time. It means I can finally sleep in a little bit. It’s 8:45pm now and I’m already feeling like I could fall asleep. That hike really took it out of me, but I’m pretty proud of myself for making it. It also gives me a lot of confidence for my trek to Machu Picchu, because today I hiked to 4,600m, and Machu Picchu is only 2,400m. The altitude shouldn’t be an issue for me at all there.