Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit – Day 2 – Quartelhuain to Carhuacocha

Day 2 – Quartelhuain to Carhuacocha

We slept 11 hours last night. 11 hours! In the morning, we were greeted by a sheep herder who lived nearby. We made small talk as best we could and he proceeded to ask for 20 soles to pay for the campsite. We knew there was no a fee for the camp, but he persisted. He then called it a “tip” for us using the bathrooms. We probably shouldn’t have, but we paid him. Being the only ones out there we felt pretty vulnerable at times. Especially when you are surrounded by a community of indigenous people living in the area you’re hiking.

Our trek started with a steep climb up to our first pass. It was slow, slow going with our heavy packs. My lungs were heavy and I felt my heart beat out of my chest every step. It was surprisingly quiet and peaceful at 15,000ft, overlooking a green lush valley below.

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There are currently 7 regions of the trail that are managed by a corresponding community. Each community charges a protection fee to camp in the areas located near their villages. They tend to be very earnest and honest, but we learned to keep our tickets as we were asked to show them again at another location. 

 

At the bottom of the valley, we paid our first protection fee of the trek. The cobradores collected our money and handed us a colorful ticket for paying the fee. Immediately after paying our fee, we started our steep accent up to 15,000ft for the second time. There were a couple men on horseback also making the climb. One of the men was herding a cow and her calf up the pass.

Rounding the top of the pass, we were greeted by sky-scraper peaks each with a giant glacier cascading down it’s base. Every now and then you could hear the cracking and echoes of falling ice. It was wild and the views are enormous!

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The Cordillera Huayhuash has seven peaks above 20,000ft! I’ve never seen mountains so big.

We reached camp around 3pm and set up camp at a beautiful lake with a giant glacier at the end of it. Our timing was perfect as we set up just in time before a large storm hit! The mountains all of a sudden were socked in with clouds. Hiding out in our tent, thunder roared with a down pour of rain and hail bouncing off the ground. The water didn’t soak into the ground so we had puddles of water under and around our tent. Jake spent a good amount of time trying to dig trenches with our trowel haha Engineer skills come in handy.

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Camp for the night. Thankfully, we had about 30 minutes of views before the storm blew in!

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The lightning was directly overhead. There would be a bright flash and 1 second later a loud boom. That boom would then travel in an echo bouncing off the mountain walls all the way down the valley like a bowling ball. It was intense! The worst part? Having to pee.

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