Before setting out to complete the Cordillera Huayhush Circuit, Jake and I spent 5 days acclimating in the town of Huaraz. From Huaraz (10,000ft), we completed 3 day hikes around the area. all varying in elevation. Our highest elevation reached before starting the Huayhuash Circuit was 15,100ft. Originally, we had planned four day hikes (which we both highly recommend) but I didn’t feel well after the first day hike as you will read…
Laguna Wilacococha – Acclimating Hike Numero Uno – 12,200ft
Journal Entry | 10-7-18
Today’s hike was a cultural treat. We walked to the market from our hostel to catch a Collectivo (commuter bus) to the Laguna Wilacococha trail head. The hike is very popular among the locals and is not a far commute from the heart of town. We waited for our ride at the market where bustling Peruvians were lined up selling their goods to commuters on the streets.
A lesson learned about Collectivos – once it stops, hop on quick! Some people board while it’s still moving! In each Collectivo, you have the driver and a helper in the back to open and close the door when the bus stops. Usually the helper would be hanging out of the door hollering at passerby’s and quickly ushering people on and off. It was a cool experience. A little claustrophobic with our backpacks though.
From the trail head, the hike was an instant steep climb. At one point, a Peruvian woman in a beautiful dress, stockings, nice shoes and tall, embroidered hat, hiked passed us. She was climbing up the steep grade like it was nothing! Here I am with my hiking gear and trekking poles, sweating and sucking in air.
The trail passed through a little mountain village with sheep, donkeys, pigs, chickens and cows. It was such an amazing experience walking with the Peruvian people. People were so kind and welcoming.
Finally at the top, there was a small pond with grazing llamas and behind them was an amazing view of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range and Huaraz resting below. It was our first glimpse of the high peaks and what we would eventually be hiking in. I’ve never seen mountains so big!
We headed back down to catch the Collectivo back into Huaraz. Litterally jumping on the bus, the 8-seater van was packed with about 12 people! It was a little uncomfortable. We arrived back at the market and spent the rest of the day shopping and eating delicious food!
Journal Entry | 10-8-18
Last night was rough. I felt fine after our first day hike yesterday – maybe a little dehydrated? But right before bed, a headache suddenly came on strong. I woke up at 1:00am, pounding in my ears, and didn’t sleep for another 2 hours. I chugged water all through the night. Jake told me I was gasping for breaths. I would take a couple shallow breaths and then one big deep breath. By morning, my headache was still lingering even after the liters of water I drank in the night.
It was clear I wasn’t acclimating. We made the decision to stay in town for the day instead of embarking on another hike. Health is most important and acclimating takes time.
Another day to explore the town! Today is a holiday in Perú celebrating the Battle of Angamos (a naval encounter fought between the navies of Chile and Perú) most locals have work off to celebrate!