Salkantay trek. Day 2
The day started with a wake up at 5am after little to no sleep for me and a few others. Fortunately we were woken up by the guides at our door with a steaming hot cup of coca tea (helps with the altitude, and the freezing cold).
A short breakfast later and we were hiking again. Beautiful scenery all around with clouds rolling up the valley, one minute you can see across mountains, the next everything disappears behind a rolling wall of white. We walked like this on muddy ground, struggling to catch our breath for several hours as we climbed to the highest point, the base of Salkantay mountain at 4630 meters. Unfortunately it was mostly behind cloud, but it would sometimes become clear exposing its glacier and the cause of the constant small avalanches we could hear in the distance. Here I built a little tribute, like one I built at Everest Base camp for my grandmother and grandfather's memory, one in the Himalayas and one in the Andes mum.
We left this the highest point and traversed the rocky landscape to a small glacier lake beneath the mountain, equally elusive but showing itself for a few minutes at a time.
Then began the walk down, several hours of it! And incredibly the view continued to stun around every corner and over every hill. At one point we rounded a corner and could see a huge snow covered mountain chain in the distance, with rolling green hills slowly dropping down into a valley which seemed never to end. We would stop occasionally to catch our breath and try unsuccessfully to fully take in this enormous landscape.
After stopping for lunch and another breather we continued to descend, the landscape was all rocks, ice, grass and the occasional shrub, and then suddenly, as we walked in our bright orange ponchos in a futile attempt to keep the rain out, everything changed and we were surrounded by jungle! Trees clung to cliff sides, the peaks of which were still covered in cloud, and the sun began to feel warm, and then hot. A couple hours later the rain stopped, the sun fully came out, and we were sweating, surrounded by birds and bugs and all the accoutrements you would expect in a tropical rainforest or jungle!
Such a change in so short a time was tough to come to grips with, especially with rain coming and going, and snowy peaks still visible in the distance. But we continued to walk down, and after a day which consisted of about 10 hours of walking, first up to 4630 meters and then down to 2850 meters, we arrived at our camp, tired and ready to eat and sleep!
Despite having to cleanse our tent of several spiders first, this night I actually slept well, mainly because we were at a much lower altitude, but also because we were knackered, and day 3 would also be a 5am start!