The biggest and most important journal entry for me today is to say that I am feeling sooo much better than I did yesterday. A couple of things conspired to make day six of our trek a bit of a challenging one. First of all, the "allergy" I thought I had turned out to be a full blown cold complete with energy sucking properties. The other factor was the lack of energy from simply not eating what my body needed in order to hike up Pico Austria at 5,350m. It was difficult and took all of the mental might I had. Heading up to 5,350m is not what you want to be doing when you bonk.
The good news to the story is that I did make it to the summit, moving very, very slowly, one step at a time (with each one feeling as if it was the last one I could take). I so wanted to close my eyes and rest. We ate lunch at the summit; all I could manage was the cheese followed by chocolate for a quick hit of energy. I closed my eyes and dozed for a bit and was happy that I actually was able to recover enough to complete the trek to our next camp.
As with all the other camps, the location was awesome; it was by a laguna, with a river and had a view of a gorgeous glacier. It was only around 1:30 when we arrived and the sun was still warming. I layed outside to rest for a bit before heading into the tent for a full-on rest. Supper was at 6:30 and I had to drag myself of the tent to head to the cook tent for some sustenance. I managed to make it through supper but could not stay for mate. Off I went with my water bottle filled with hot camomile tea. I did not end up taking even one sip because I simply passed out. I did not wake up to go to the bathroom which, given my record, is saying a lot. When I did finally wake up in the morning I was super hot because the sun was beating down on the tent.
Another blue sky day!
The pattern so far has been for full blue sky in the morning, followed by clouds moving in, followed (or not) by hail or rain. You certainly have to be ready for every type of weather while trekking here. I find myself one minute hauling clothes off and the next, putting it all back on. Certainly when we reach the passes, which range from 4,800m to 5,100m, there is usually more wind and it's definitely cooler.
Each day has really been a different experience, depending in part on the character of each valley. We have hiked through deserts; rocky terrain; bogey areas and have hiked down steep pitches of scree. (I am not exaggerating when I say that the pitch has been as much as 40 degrees). There have been many lagunas, all offering up various greens, blues and opals. There have also been unending herds of llamas (lovely creatures) and some herds of alpaca (the pure white ones apparently fetch more money than the ones of other colours; not sure how many colours they "come in" but I have seen gorgeous brown ones as well). They have quite a unique look with their heads seeming large because only their bodies are sheared.