The tuesday morning breakfast explosion:
Jana and I had each packed food for four days, because our original plan involved quebrada ridges and the high altitude lakes in between. With a slight change to our itinerary, we also made a slight change to our eating habits: eat as much food as possible so as to lighten our packs. It seems my one issue with the Secret to Longevity is rule number one: eat half as much.
We sipped mate de coca tea and chowed on chocolatey, quinoa-y, granola. Then we cooked up mashed potatoes and carrots and broccoli to pack in a tupperware for lunch!
In our deep state of food comas, we zipped up the tent and departed on our epic day hike to Laguna Mullaca. Up, up, and away! We meandered across grassy hillsides, boulder strewn gullies, polylepsis forest thickets, and rushing rivers.
See that brown hill in the front right of the photo? The lake is just behind that…right at the base of the glaciers of Vallunaraju!
The wildflowers are in full bloom and full effect! They’re everywhere!! Looking back down at Jana hiking up from the valley.
Even before we crested the ridge and could see the lake, the mountains and the glaciers in the distance zoomed forward into view. Remember Laguna 69, with all of those people at once? Laguna Mullaca is right up there on the same level of incredible beauty, without the crowd!
The dinos enjoyed their lunch in The Land Before Time and the sky began to open into its neverending blue.
We ate avocado sandwiches and spooned veggie mashed potatoes for lunch! We even split a chocolate bar to boot!
Jana decided that the neverending pain of trekking is completely washed away with the stellar views at the end of the trail. I love walking. The journey is the reward.
We hiked up a ridge on the northwest side of the Laguna Mullaca to peer down at its sister lake. Laguna Mullaca proper takes the cake.
After lunching and snapping photos of flowers and rock faces (the guardians of the lake), we began our descent. We took off our shoes and crossed the frigid river and continued the down hike on the south side of the rio. About 30 minutes into the hike we spotted a red, orange, yellow blob bouncing down the north side (the trail-less) of the river.
What is that?
A Quechua woman, running down the mountain, carrying a huge bundle on her back! No way!
We waved and smiled at eachother and kept the same pace (on the trail) as she was keeping (with no trail). When we crossed back to the north side of the river, we met.
Hablas Quechua? (Do you speak Quechua?) -Quechua woman
No, solo Castellano. (No, only Spanish.) -me
Vives aqui? (Do you live here?) -me
No, vivo lejos de aqui. (No, I live far from here.) -Quechua woman
Ah, lejos. En cual valle? (Ah, far away. In which valley?) -me
Ah, vivo mas lejos de aqui. Vivo en Buenos Aires! (Ah, I live far away. I live in Buenos Aires!) -Quechua woman
(I nearly fell over from pure shock at such witty humor…and at such an hilarious statement! I have never encountered such witty sarcasm with a local before.)
Then, Felicitas invited us to follow her down the mountain.
So we did.
And we proceeded to run straight down the side of the mountain (hopping from rock to rock), forgetting that switch backs even existed.
After about 15 minutes, Felicitas asked me a question about the lakes and the view from up top. I understood the question, but completely stuttered and babbled my response. She smiled and then said:
Entiendes Castellano bien, pero no puedes hablar. (You understand well, but you can’t speak for sh$%.) -Felicitas
Again, doubled over with laughter. This lady is a kick! She explained to us that she was up the mountain, just below the lake, collecting herbs to sell at the mercado in Huaraz. She climbs up here a few times a week and sells herbs in the mercado on Thursdays. Talk about Legs of Steel.
We split at the river, for she was to continue down into the valley and we were to hang a left and head south over the ridge. How lovely to share a gorgeous afternoon with a character of a lady. For sure this was the funniest encounter I have had yet.
Stellar view looking north west, right before the epic afternoon downpour. Bummer that Jana forgot her rain pants, poor girl was soaked to the bone! Dinner in the tent and goodnight!