ELEVATE: FROM 0 TO 17,000
HUMAN EMPOWERED ADVENTURE
Buy the ticket, take the ride. Forever my motto. When a group of friends came together with a common love and appreciation for the unknown, this three week backpacking trip to Peru happened. After a 4 hour car ride, 5 hour flight, and 10 hour bus ride that barely shouldered a mountain side overlooking the Pacific, five of us made it to our first destination: Huaraz, Peru. After immediately getting off the bus, we set the clockwork into motion. Instantly, we found a hostel, prepared for our 4-day Santa Cruz trek in the Cordillera Blanca, and signed up for a trek to Glacier Pastoruri that day.
But First, Breakfast at the Mercado
Huaraz has an amazing market, with fresh foods, music, and loads of goodies to stock up on before your trek. Take time to explore the city, and learn from us - acclimate first!
The Journey Begins
Along the drive to the trail head, we were gifted with mountainous views at every twist and turn. Pit stops were made to see the reflecting pool of Pumashimi and her seven shades of azul, Pre-Colombian carvings, and local businesses along the mountainous terrain.
As we neared the trail, only a brief hike to the top, we drank in the cool mountain air, soon realizing, this was not the most intuitive acclimation hike.
* Photo taken by member of our group, Kylie of Wiildatheart Photography.
In less than 24 hours, we went from 0 feet above sea level in Tampa, Florida to 17,000 feet at Glacier Pastoruri. Or in another snapshot, 20% oxygen levels decreased to 10%! The altitude sickness crept in at around 15,000 feet, with dizzyness, throbbing skulls, and backwards slang becoming prominent. Our legs kept propelling us forward, knowing we were so close to seeing Pachamama at her finest. We worked together as a team to reach the glacier, with pauses to combat the altitude. Reflecting back, I would highly recommend to a fellow mochilero to take time to adjust to the altitude if interested in visiting Huaraz and taking a more extensive trek in Parque Nacional Huascarán.
We live and we learn...Once at the top, natural hues opened our eyes to a world of wonders and all struggles were but a mere passing thought.
As we neared the top of the brief hike, we could see why Glacier Pastoruri is considered a tragic beauty. As we gazed along the horizon, the blank slate-white of her glacier was cradled by mineral rich soil of various pigments. This soil is said to be laden with the remains of dinosaurs and prehistoric fossils once preserved by the hardened ice. Glacier Pastoruri is a tragic beauty, as this glacier has decreased in size by half in the last 20 years - according to Peru's National Water Authority - having major repercussions for the local habitat which houses her beauty.
In the Darkness, Blooms Resiliency
What had drastically become a wrench in the gears for the local tourist industry, evolved as tour sites began to offer the same tours to visit Pastoruri, but with a new twist. Visitors now were taught about the repercussions of a changing climate, and what it means for the local flora, fauna, and indigenous residents protecting the area. Shops and vendors are still able to make a simple living from the tourist industry, but for how long? And at what costs?
The resiliency and ability of the Peruvian people to adapt is inspiring beyond belief, and attests to the fact that true change begins at the community level. Local residents serving to protect the habitat should be supported in preserving one of the few remaining glaciers in South America.
More Photo Blogs to Come!
*All photos were taken by me and my partner, unless otherwise noted.. Please ask for permission prior to use for all photos.