Across The Andes By Prog (Monday 31 October)

I woke at 0600 and listened to my iPod Shuffle as I got myself organised.

Crippled Black Phoenix – We Forgotten Who We Are
Eddie Vedder – Hard Sun
Katie Buckhaven – Running Blind

Today was supposed to be an easier day after the tough climb yesterday and it certainly had a more relaxed feel to it.  Little did I know at this time what an effect it would have on me.  Silvia arrived with the coca tea at 0700.  I then helped fix her poncho with some of my gaffer tape.  Here we all are with our gear from Berghaus, Mountain Equipment and The North Face, all Goretex and Primaloft, and Silvia has a plastic poncho which can be fixed with a bit of gaffer tape when it tears.  Breakfast was at 0740 and alongside the sweet bread with strawberry jam this morning was cheese and tomato omelette.  I notice it has turned colder since I woke up.  I also notice my flannel and towel have not dried, so I attach them to the back of my daypack and hope that the sun will come out.  We leave camp at 0845.  We do not have much choice because a flock of sheep want their ground back.

A bridge not too far

A bridge not too far

We are walking through very green hills towards a valley.  We can see lots of potato growing taking place on the sides of the hills at the farms we pass.  We cross a river by way of a wooden bridge which has practically collapsed, and at the same time see a modern building with square wooden windows which turns out to be the local primary school.  It is obligatory for all children to attend primary school, and in the remote highlands the teachers will often be the ones who travel in and then stay during the week.  When it comes to secondary school the students will be the ones who have to travel, maybe up to three hours each way, or will themselves stay over during the week.  We are passed by a man on a horse coming the other way, who is wearing a traditional Inca Manchester United jacket.  Maybe he has relatives in Cornwall.  We are also passed by an old woman wearing sandals.  That might not be so bad if I did not recognise her from earlier in the morning when she was taking her cow and dogs for a walk around our camp.  She moved with a strange rocking gait, somewhere between a march and a run, and quickly left us behind.  We took a toilet and clothing stop at 1100, but I stayed in red top number 1 and my Fitzroy jacket.  I do take a bite of the Snickers bar we have as part of our snack.

Wayllabamba down in the valley below

Wayllabamba down in the valley below

At 1130 we arrive at the Wayllabamba ruins, and eat the Snickers and the green apples we have as our snack today.  We keep the apple skins and cores for the pigs we will find at our camp today.  The locals call this ‘Happy Place’ and it sits at a junction of three Inca Trails, which made it an obvious location for a control point.  It was more than just that, though, being a multifunctional area which included some religious places and storehouses.

Wayllabamba

Wayllabamba

We had seen it from above as we approached but now that we were down at its level it was not so easy to picture where everything was.  The way it was laid out was deceptive and hid its real size.  Even within the layout some aspects appeared to be hidden.  All in all, it was yet another fascinating site, and as we left at 1240 we all agreed that once again we could have spent much longer looking around.

Inside the ruins

Inside the ruins

We walked down the hill to the current control point.  We had to register here to be able to walk along the Inca Trail.  They also had a block which contained the nearest thing we had encountered to real toilets for some time, so they got some use.  We left there at 1305 and arrived at the hamlet of Wayllabamba, our camp for this night, at 1340.  We had walked 5km and dropped down further to 2900m.  The camp was overlooked by another ruin and looked off itself into the valley below while being overlooked by the mountains – stunning scenery.  So it was a shame that our spot was so littered with rubbish that I felt compelled to collect it all up before I did anything else.  Some of it had obviously been deliberately pushed into gaps in the stone walls.  It absolutely beggars belief that someone would be walking in this countryside and feel it was acceptable to do that.  I then decided to wash my red top number 1, the zip-off bottoms of my trekking trousers, and the socks I had been wearing to walk in.  Of course, once they were all very wet the sun disappeared behind a cloud.  Once that had been done I drank some fruit juice and watched the humming birds as we waited for lunch.  Lunch was served at 1455 and was a light one because a big meal was being planned for the evening.  In fact, we could already see that being prepared in the field next to our camp, and could see the oven they were digging to cook it.  So for now we had garlic bread with piqueo soup – vegetable and beef.  Russ got to choose our phrase of the day :

Se peude acampar aqui ?
Can I camp here ?

The horsemen were leaving us today, so Andy, Russ and I were tasked with giving them their tip.  I am sure Andy was glad to be rid of the horses.  After lunch we all tried to work out what we needed to send back to bring our duffle bags down to the 7kg weight.  We would be on the Inca Trail tomorrow and that meant no horses, which is why the horsemen were leaving us.  It also meant we would be using porters to carry our kit, so it had to come down from 10kg to 7kg.  I sent back a waterproof jacket I was never going to use (the Fitzroy had more than proved its worth), a couple of pairs of socks and the battery razor which had been pretty useless even in the comfort of the hotels.  I took one last shave, and it left my face feeling a mess – there was no mirror to look in, and frankly I did not want to.  Having sorted that out I took some time with my iPod Shuffle :

DeeExpus – Greed
Porcupine Tree – Deadwing

And then I took a shower.  There was a small Coca-Cola bottle with holes in it over the end of the waterpipe to provide the shower facility, and though the water was cold it was still warmer than the last shower I had had on this trip.  It felt good to be clean again.  And as my towel had dried during the walking part of the day I was able to get it wet again by drying myself properly.

Last camp before the Inca Trail

Last camp before the Inca Trail

Jump – Three Times Down
Riverside – Hybrid Times

So with the bottoms of my trekking trousers still drying, I appeared for dinner sporting the new look of boots, thermals and shorts.  Dinner was at 1815 and was a huge affair – cheese, tomato, cucumber, lamb, potato, chicken, sweet potato and papaya.  Silvia told us this was a special meal, and the cooked parts had been cooked in the oven the guys dug into the ground in the field next to us.  Everything tasted delicious, and it was my first time eating lamb in months, but special mention must go to the papaya which was so juicy, and quite sweet but not too sweet.  There was also red wine, but I did not have any of that.  And then as it was Halloween we told stories about ghosts and spiritual things.  It was a brilliant evening.  At 2000 it was time to head for the tents because we had a big day ahead of us.  I did not realise just how big it would be for me just yet.  We took everything into our tents, including the still wet clothing, because we were now on shared campsites.

Crippled Black Phoenix – Troublemaker
Magenta – Demons

I was awake between 0100 and 0230 because I was too hot.  It was not hot outside or in the tent, but I was burning up.  I went to the toilet and the evening meal just went straight through me.  I did see a fox in the next field while I was out of the tent, and despite how I was feeling that made me smile.  I listened to some more music.

AC/DC – You Shook Me All Night Long
Frost* – Milliontown

And I hoped that I would be feeling a lot better than this in the morning.

You can see more photographs from the day here.

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3 Responses to Across The Andes By Prog (Monday 31 October)

  1. Tiina says:

    A little typo I think.
    Se puede acampar aqui?
    Not peude. Or am I wrong?

  2. Pingback: Steven Wilson | JamesA's Notebook

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