In the sleepy farming town of Canutillo, Durango, Mexico.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Canutillo, Durango, Mexico.

Where are they going next? Durango City, Durango, Mexico.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

How did we manage to do that?!

Up early yesterday to get ready for a big hike up to a lake in the Peruvian Andes near where we are staying here in Huaraz. We had read about this hike, and so we knew that it was going to be a tough one that needed an early start if we were going to complete it.

Our friends Lara and Luca came and met us at our apartment and we took the collectivo van to the village of Wilcahuain about 5 kms (3 miles) away where the trail begins to Laguna Ahuac.

"Challenging day trek for the adventurous" was one of the comments I had read about this hike.

Boy were they right!

The view out our dining room window.
We woke up to a beautiful day!

The starting point in the village of Wilcahuain is located at 3400 meters (11,200') altitude.

The laguna is located at 4550 meters (15,000') altitude... a gain of 1150 meters (3,800') in 6.1 kms (3.8 miles) one way.

That is some steep hiking, at high altitude!

I think the toughest hike we have done previous to this was the Santa Maria Volcano hike in Guatemala back in 2013. That hike began at 2,537 meters (8,323') and ended at 3748 meters (12,300'). But, we were six years younger then, and at a lower altitude!

(Remember, you can click on the photo to make it full screen).

Scenery along the way.

Look at that beautiful blue sky!

And the uphill climb begins.

Looks like we've got some company!

Following up behind us.

The road ahead.

Sheep!

Just about due for a trim?

Ruth, looking at the vegetation. There were some interesting trees.

At around 10:00am.

Luca and Lara are starting to get ahead of me.

Of course Luca and Lara are only 31 years old! I was doing a pretty good job of trying to keep up, but they eventually headed to the top on their own. We could still see them on the trails up ahead, but better that they make it to the top even if we don't!

Ruth was starting to lag behind though. I was starting to think that she was going to have a difficult time making it to the top in time. 

10:45am, Ruth is lagging behind.
We still have a long way to go!

One foot in front of the other.

Can you see the two people coming up behind us?

For some reason, this is not a well used trail. The entire duration of the hike we only saw two other couples heading up, and one single guy heading down.

12:25pm, Ruth is still plugging along.

I would go an ahead at my own pace, and then rest for a bit making sure I could still see that Ruth was okay. There was a shelter up ahead, and I made it to the shelter while I waited for Ruth. I figured that Ruth would probably wait at the shelter while I carried on up to the top.

I can see the shelter now.

Looking back at our trail.

I made it to the shelter at 12:45pm.

I could still see Ruth coming up, so I waited for her until she made it there. But there was still 1 km (.62 miles) of hard climbing ahead and we were now over 14,000 feet in altitude. It was hard going.


I took a couple of self timer shots while I waited for her.

Ruth made it to the shelter, but said she didn't think she could make it to the top. I also had my doubts, so we decided that I would carry on to the top and at least take some photos.

It was very difficult. It took me 45 minutes to do that last kilometer! It didn't seem like the uphill would ever stop. Along the way, I looked back down and saw Ruth also on the trail! She just doesn't give up!

Made it!
4550 meters (15,000 ft).

Laguna Ahuac.

The view out the window at the stone shelter at the lake.

The stone shelter at Laguna Ahuac.

Scenery at the top.

I found Lara and Luca at the top, and told them I didn't think Ruth would make it in time. The problem was that it was now almost 2:00pm and of course we still had to make it down. We weren't sure what time the last collectivo would leave to bring us back to Huaraz, and of course it gets dark around 6:00pm anyhow. 

We decided to head back down and meet Ruth along the way to tell her there wasn't time. But, it wasn't long before we found her... she was almost there! So Lara and Luca continued down and I made my way with Ruth to the top. She was so close, there was no way to simply turn around and not make it!

Yay, she made it!

But, there was not much time to rest at the top. We had a quick snack, and then turned around and headed back down.

Looking at our trail back down.

Back at the shelter.

Can you see Ruth at the bottom left?

As we made our way down, we would look back up and say "how did we manage to do that?!"

We eventually caught up to Luca and Lara and made it back down to the trailhead at just before 5:00pm. Took the collectivo back to the city, and the apartment.

What a day that was... we were literally exhausted!

Today will be another rest day. I think we deserve it!

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24 comments:

  1. Got tired just reading!
    Well Done!

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    1. Lol, try hiking it and then you will be exhausted! Glad that you enjoyed our post and pictures. :-)

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  2. Your both Rock Stars. Great going and fabulous pictures!

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    1. Thank you so much for thinking of us that way! We just do what we love doing, but we have to admit that we almost bit off more than we could chew on this hike.

      So glad that you enjoyed our pictures.

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  3. Awesome hike...reminds me of rim-to-rim at Grand Canyon. The Bristle Cone trees were up in tundra zone and they were the only trees living up there. Some areas we hiked had no trees and little vegetation. We did see sheep and a herder a ways down. The trail looks challenging indeed...wow you made it!!

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    1. Thank you Rita. It was definitely a hike and a half. The scenery was beautiful from up there. It was definitely a very challenging hike, more so because of the altitude though rather than the hike itself.

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  4. That was amazing! From Priscilla, Sue Watt's sister!

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    1. Thank you Priscilla! It was an amazing hike. We will try to get both Sue and Roy on some good hikes this winter but not ones that are this challenging. :-)

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  5. Replies
    1. Awe jeez thanks! We are just full of determination, that's all! :-)

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  6. Replies
    1. Yes, part of the hike was fun and enjoyable but towards the end it was just plain hard work, but the satisfaction that you get when you reach the top makes it all worth it. If you aren't a hiker than it is very hard to understand this concept.

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  7. Any reason you're not using poles when you hike on such a steep grade with big rocks?

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    1. Yep, several reasons. First off I only started using hiking poles a couple of years ago and really I mostly like them for the stability that they give me going downhill. At the moment though they are in our motorhome in Texas. When we are on planes with only carry on luggage, I don't believe they will let you on with hiking poles and we weren't about to buy new ones for only a few hikes. I did however find a makeshift pole at the little stone hut at the top so I used it going back down the mountain.

      Kevin on the other hand doesn't care for hiking poles for a number of reasons. He finds they are cumbersome and they can get in the way of regular activities such as just taking pictures. Also while they can benefit some they also hinder some. Such as they don't help with your core muscles and your balance because you are relying on the poles.

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  8. How are the new boots holding up?

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    1. It took a few hikes to work them in but now they are holding up very well and we have had very comfortable feet during our hikes, especially this one. They have great ankle support and no blisters. So far we are very happy with them. Time will tell as to how well they will last though.

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    2. I am glad to hear that the boots are now working for you both. Congratulations (especially to Ruth) for summitting this one. I know how hard that must have been, but some of it is mental too, of course, and you've got that part licked! :)

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    3. The boots didn't take to much to work in thankfully and yes, we are very happy with them so far but time will tell as to how long they will last.

      Thanks Emily, I surprised even myself on this hike. Definitely a lot of mental work was done, I think that is the only thing that got me through it. And, it is even harder when you are hiking by yourself. Boy, did it ever feel good to reach the top and see that lake. :-)

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  9. Good thing you're doing it now. Mother Nature takes its toll on all of us. Unfortunately, we are not "forever young". Glad you guys made it.

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    1. Yes, but again it is one of those things that if you just keep doing it you should be fine, it's when you stop that you start to have problems and find that you can't do what you used to be able to do. With any luck we can still do this when we are 70. I guess we will see. :-)

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  10. Felicidades, you guys exceeded the elevation of all the peaks in the contiguous US, and without having to go through an arduous wait list process to boot! You just got up and went, and did it all in a single day!

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    1. Thanks Doug! We didn't know that you can't do a hike that high in the US without a permit and being on a wait list. This was actually a wonderful hike because there was hardly anyone on it. :-)

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    2. The hike to the top of Mt Whitney (14,505ft) starts at 8360ft for a gain of over 6000ft. Plus the round trip is 22 miles! Considerably more challenging, but also much more crowded. Way better to take the trail less traveled by :)

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    3. Yep, we agree, the trail less traveled is way better! :-)

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