Laguna Chilatta, Bolivia
The weather made it to the lake not long after we did. A torrential hail storm destroyed the shelter that we had built to cook dinner under. My tent was no match for the puddle that formed under my thin plastic tarp. We hiked all day, continuing our ascent to the lake at the bottom of the Illampu Glacier which sits 5400 meters above sea level (Donner Pass: 2444 Meters, Everest Base Camp: 5365 Meters). The white cap of the mountain poked out from the thick clouds like a crystal from Pachamama. Our guide led us up steep paths, scrambling over slippery boulder gardens. We crossed rivers and waterfalls of glacier runoff and traversed rock cliffs
. Dad would have described it as a šno room for errorš situation. The fog stayed with us all morning masking the trail and painting the granite with a glaze that made the mountainside shimmer. The trail was nonexistent; we were completely at the mercy of our trusted guide who had been climbing the mountains his whole life. The elevation made trekking with our packs incredibly difficult. With big breaths and baby steps I slowly trudged my way towards the base of the glacier which hugged the side of the mountain like frozen lava, closely following the climber in front of me as to not get lost in the mist. When we arrived at the lake, the fog cleared and we saw a large murky white pool of water framed on one side by a huge wall of ice that was the glacier edge. šOh my God.š I exclaimed, in awe of the huge ice block in front of me. Just then God responded with a thundering boom that shook the mountain. In front of my eyes a huge avalanche sent a chunk of the glacier plunging into the lake. After that, the fog thickened and huge pellets of hail began to strike the lake causing it to crackle like popcorn on the stove. I stood for a moment, hail bouncing off of my rain jacket, and thought to myself with complete confidence that I am in the right place, that following my gut to the outskirts of humanity is exactly what i was supposed to do, and that these hours of daily self reflection are giving me an invaluable incite into my life and the world that i live in.