Conquering the Cordillera, almost

Trip Start Dec 08, 2006
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Trip End ??? 05, 2007


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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

From the previous entry you may know that a group of us had planned to go hiking in the andes to see the highest peak in the southern and western hemishperes, almost 7000 mts.  This is the story of this misguided andventure and begins the morning of our 'expedition'. 

The morning began in the usual way with the eager hikers arranging supplies for the hard (yeah right!) day ahead, water and cracker, and headed for the mountains.  After a picturesque walk to the park we paid the entrance fee and checked in for the walk.  We were then waved off by the smiling park rangers, we know now they must have been laughing not smilling.
The walk should have taken about 3 hours but we were all walking at different paces so we found that after halk an hour we had split into three groups.  Surprisingly enough I was the fastest walker so I was ahead on my own (I know what you are thinking and so was I...slow group).  We were following a trail by a river that runs along one of the valley.  We walked alongside it for about an hour and a half before the trail veered right away from the river and up the side of  a mountain.  At this point I extended my lead on the others and found myself completely alone  in the middle of the Andes...it was a really cool experience it felt like I was a million miles from civilisation and any other people. After about an hour walking up the mountain some snowflakes started to fall.  Ahh how pretty, but it wasn`t bad so I pressed on.  About 10 minustes later the trail was becoming harder to follow and now the snow picked up.  I looked behind me and there was no sign others even though now I had a clear view for a quite a distance. 

I started to wonder if it was wonder if it was worth continuing.  I also took the camera out to get a few shots, as I was looking aound the snow picked up even more and in the five minutes I stopped to do this the trail almost completely covered over with snow.  Crap definately time to get out of here.  So I put on all the layers I had and tried to follow the trail back.  Unfortunalely for me I didn`t have waterproof trousers or shoes and within 5 minutes of  turning into the direction of the snowfall the front of my jacket was completely covered in snow and I was getting wet.  After 30 mins full speed descent, trying to follow and unrecognisable trail and trying not to sparin anything I finally reached the riverbank.  At this point I was pretty much soaked through, very muddy and getting colder.  I ran and walked the rest of the trail and made it back to the rangers station in an hour.  Very wet and very cold.

However the journey was not to end here. I met up with the rest of the group who had only just made it back before me and almost as wet and cold although I seem to have been in the worst state owing to the mountainside descent that they didn`t have....grrrr! I should have known that the one tme I was the fastest in a group it would not work to my advantage.  Anyway we still had to get back to Punta del Inca to catch the bus.  After checking out of the park we suited up again and braved the elements.  The snow was falling as hard as ever so we practically ran back.  It was during this part of the trip that I was nearly crying from the pain in my frozen hands, a point I may have left out I didn`t have any gloves.

On arrival in Punta del Inca the story takes a better turn.  Taking pity on the sorry looking hikers a truck driver picked us up and brought us back to the hostel.  The only thing I could do was get in the shower with most of my clothes on so that I could wash all the dirt off them and try to warm up. 

Once we all out of the shower and had our cloths and boots drying on the heaters we all got together for dinner.  We made a huge pasta dinner accompanied by th obligatory vino.  It was at this point we started to reflect on the day and realise that the park rangers knew it was going to snow and still let us attempt that trail!!!! 
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