Day 5 Cutatambo to Huatiaq
Today was a totally different day.
The trail took us on a brisk walk all the way down to 11,000ft – oxygen! The trail traveled away from the high peaks and followed a raging river steep down into a narrow valley. The water was crystal clear with multicolored river rocks beneath. There were waterfalls everywhere and tropical trees. At the end, the valley opened up to beautiful man made rock walls and narrow walled walkways.
After about 7 miles, we arrived in a tiny village called Huayllapa. We were excited to experience the village and possibly eat breakfast. Let’s be real, we were hyper-focused on the breakfast possibilities! Walking into the village, we passed a woman hunched over doing laundry in the river with her baby lambs grazing around her. All the homes had tin roofs which shined in the sunlight. The dirt trail eventually widened and became the neighborhood streets. It was very quiet and nothing appeared to be open. We sat on a bench outside the closed general store and watched the locals work and move through the village. We tried to interpret the town gossip as three women sure had a lot to say about “Manuel.”
After about a half hour we decided to head out to start the big climb back into the mountains. We were a little disappointed we missed out on breakfast, but were thankful we got to experience the village and pet baby lambs on the way out.
From Huayllapa, it was a steep 3,000ft walk back into the mountains. It was a tough, but we were in awe of the tropical scenery. Waterfalls cascaded down beside the trail. There were little oasis’ of trees – it felt like a jungle! Halfway up, clouds began to form and rain started to fall. We were so warm from climbing, we decided to keep going and not stop to put on our rain jackets. We were soaked by the rain, but it cooled us as we continued the steep stretch. After about 45 minutes, the rain let up and the sun came out. Our clothes were dry within 20 minutes by the strong sun.
After dinner, a gentlemen herding his sheep stopped by our tent. A little anxious, we made small talk with him as best we could. The conversation turned and he asked us bluntly if we had food, or more specifically, if we had chocolate. It got awkward. We apologized and told him we did not have any chocolate to give. He said goodnight politely and wandered back to herding his sheep.