Welcome to Day Two of the Lares Trek, the journey to Machu Picchu. Day Two of the Lares Trek is notoriously difficult. You reach an altitude of 4,800 metres, hiking up steep, steep hills, to the peak of a mountain, which can be covered in layers of snow and ice depending on the weather! We had knee-deep snow to battle at some points. It’s a true journey.
Catch up on Day One and a bit of Lares background here.
More than anything, this poa is a long, long gallery of pictures taken very high up in the Andes.
And prepare yourself for more cute dogs.
Day Two is tough. It’s about 10 hours of walking, you’re likely aching from Day One, haven’t had a great sleep as you’re in a tent in the mountains, and have a heavy bag full of water, snacks, and clothing for all situations.
And it’s immediately difficult, the slopes are tough, but the views make it all worth it.
That mountain in the back is so cool. No educational value here, it’s just very cool. Full of snow too, as the Lares Trek had been advised against in the weeks leading to this due to high, high levels of snow.
A rabbit and a vicuña! Vicuña are rarer than alpaca and llama, and they’re very adorable.
Focus on the dogs. When you stop for a break, you’ll probably attract a lot of cute dogs. Use them to get through the day.
The higher you get, the more clouds you walk through and the more the terrain evolves. Rocks become more pronounced, lakes start to appear and everything gets very, very cold extremely quickly. To me, that was the most shocking thing, we’d gone from sweating climbing to very suddenly shivering and needing every layer on that we had in our bags.
This is where things get really, really tough. Shortness of breath hits hard, each step feels like taking 100 and the terrain is slippy, unyielding and a right bastard, frankly. If you can make out that hut shrouded in cloud, that’s where we’re heading to get over this ridge of the mountain.
It’s around here that we began running out of water, as you’re advised not to carry too much and to fill up on your breaks from the guides which go ahead. Water is one of the easiest ways to combat altitude sickness, and I had a pounding headache here that pills, coca leaves, and sweets weren’t touching. It sounds horrible, and it is, but it’s a total challenge for your body to climb such a high mountain for days on end. And nothing feels as good as hitting the peak of that mountain.
4,820 metres carved into a rock! This is just a little less than Everest base camp height, which feels impressive but also absolutely terrifying, how is this only the BASE for another mountain?!
Bask in your victory for a little bit, as getting down the mountain brings its own challenges.
The snow had been heavy in the days leading to our hike in July 2018. Only a few groups had been through the trek prior to use, meaning we were helping to carve a muddy trail through the snow and ice. I slipped a few times, but in a horrifying moment, I saw someone slip and almost fall into a rocky crevice. Not a great moment. A rough hike down, for sure.
And the views on the other side of the mountain are just as beautiful.
Looking back it feels almost unbelievable that we scaled that cloudy block of rock and ice, but we did! And we settled down for lunch immediately after, though getting back up to hike further was a struggle after finally sitting. Though it’s all downhill from here, heading to a flat place to camp for the night.
The valley down is very shady, making it a WAY nicer hike than earlier. It’s easier on the legs, though not the knees, and is a comfortable temperature.
And then you finally make it to your campsite. Part of the reason you must do an organised hike is the inability to carry more than 7% of your body weight. Thus, others used to hiking and the trail will go ahead and set up the campsite with horses and llamas to carry the tents.
But this big fella peed on my tent immediately after I got in it.
And that’s it for Day Two. One more, much easier and shorter, day before heading to Machu Picchu.
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