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Huayhuash : Day 3 Matacancha to Carhuacocha June 29, 2007

Posted by Cheryl in climbing, culture, mountaineering, Peru, South America, Travel, trekking, wilderness.
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With a long day ahead of us (we want to do in 1 day what most people do in 2), we hit the trail early at 8.30am. 

The trail climbs steeply to the first pass, and the cold early morning air is sharp in our lungs.  We can see the campsite far below as the path winds around rocks and outcrops.  Two condors are gliding overhead.  The pass drops away on the other side into a brilliant green valley, a brackish red brown lagoon and sparkling stream. 

We turn off the main trail to head up a side valley to reach a turquoise lagoon with brown reeds waving in the shallow waters against a backdrop of black and grey rocks, snowy white glaciers and lofty mountain tops.  The view is spectacular. We lunch at the lake before heading back down the other side of the valley to pick up the main trail in a slow and steady climb to the second pass of the day.  Again the scenery changes at every turn, wide open grassy valleys giving way to rolling green hills and multi-coloured rocks, scree slopes with snowy tops of the Huayhuash skirting around. 

The top of the pass is a bright yellowy sand, and completely barren. We get a first view of Siula Grande rising imposingly down the valley and the peaks of Yerupaja and Jirishinca rise dramatically straight out of the floor of the valley. 

Siula Grande, and Yerupaja rise behind our camp site beside lake Carhuacocha

An hour more walking brings us to a viewpoint above Laguna Carhuacocha and the campsite.  The sun has already left us as we descend towards camp.  A young boy greets us and asks “Que pais?”. This is the first question anybody ever asks and means “which country (are you from)?”.  Jason says England and I say South Africa.  He looks impressed.  His name is Xavier.  We ask him if his family sell anything (we are on the lookout to buy some fresh trout).  “Trucha” (trout) he says, “queso” (cheese) and after some more thought “papas” (potatoes).  We ask him how much for a trout.  He yells for his mother.  “Who is it?” she asks.  “The gringoes” he replies.  His mother appears.  “Que pais?” she asks.  We tell her.  She doesn´t look quite so impressed.  She tells us she doesn´t have trout.  Xavier is insistent, but she only has little trout.  We settle for 2 cervezas (beers) instead.  Xavier has produced an English school book and proudly pronounces “two” in English.

10 minutes later we are in camp and Alfonso has erected our tent already and we soon begin cooking the evening meal as the evening draws in and the temperature drops.  The backdrop of the camp site is wonderful, a beautiful lake and 6,000m snow capped peaks. A wonderful day.

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