Day 7 – Huatiaq to Incahuain
Unzipping the tent, we were surprised to see clear, blue skies! We shook the frost off the rain fly and started climbing our first pass of the day. We hiked out of the morning shadows and into the sun. The heat warmed us quickly.
The 15,715ft pass approaching was rounded and didn’t show a clear path of direction. It seemed endless! Some clouds started to roll in as we made our first decent. I felt good on the downhill and was confident I would be able to recover before the next pass.
Again, a second wave of clouds rolled in and we felt as though we were racing the clock to summit the pass safely. After 8 days of hiking above 15,000ft, I think my body had enough. Usually when we embark on long hikes, we feel stronger and faster each day. But because of the high altitude, my pace remained slow. I felt like a zombie going over the second pass. Utterly exhausted, I had to just sit. My legs wouldn’t go. It was the strangest feeling to be that exhausted. After regaining my breath, I pressed on. Jake and I were sure the mountains would be socked in with weather. Boy were we wrong…
We finally made it to the top of the pass in awe of giant glaciers and skyscraper peaks! We were also surprised to see two hikers at the top – who speak English! We haven’t seen another hiker this entire trip. Jake and I have been all alone for 8 days! I was overwhelmed in the moment.
Jake and I stayed on top of the pass for a good hour – soaking it all in. We didn’t want to come down. With the weather moving in, we finally started our decent to camp 3,000ft below. It started to thunder above the massive peaks and soon the hail came pelting down on us. The trail was steep and muddy. Jake enjoyed skiing down the trail, but I preferred hopping from grass patch to grass patch with trekking poles braced. Every slip of my feet, I squealed.
Looking down upon camp, we were shocked to see multiple tents pitched! Two guided camps were set up as well as the hikers we saw at the summit. It was a beautiful campsite. Two large lakes below a giant glacier. Dogs roamed the campsite along with cattle and donkeys. It was a hoppin’ place! Not what we were used to.
We arrived just before dinner and just before another big storm rolled in. The trekking guides camped next to us were fishing for the night’s meal with 10ft fishing poles!