Mieke, Joey and I had big plans to hike Ausangate this past week. We had stayed up late planning and baking and had all the warmest of our warm weather clothes nestled and packed tightly away in our bags. Then, the night before we were supposed to leave, I decided it might be a good idea to check the weather. Good idea, bad news. Rain, snow, thunderstorms and highs of 35 degrees awaited us for 5 days straight at Ausangate. We bailed and decided to push the trip back a week.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the large quantities of food we had made that wouldn’t be able to make that next trip. Our dear Joey is leaving Ollanta to explore other parts of South America which, while lovely, means she will not be able to partake in the Ausangate adventure. So, in light of these new developments, we decided to do a fun, one day camping trip at a beautiful spot called Huchuy Qosqo. Mieke and I had actually already hiked this trail my first weekend after arriving in Ollanta but it’s truly stunning and we were going to do it in a leisurely 2 days this time around. Plus, we needed an excuse to eat all the delicious trail mix we had cooked up.
We had beautiful clear skies and sunny weather for our entire 2 days. We meandered through fields of flowers, over rolling hills, up to a mountain pass dotted with lakes reflecting the sky, and then dropped down the other side into a canyon where we pitched camp on an old Andean terrace about 30 minutes above the ruins (we didn’t want to pay to camp). Everything was going smoothly until we realized we had forgotten to bring any fire. Whoops. We booked it down the rest of the canyon to the ruins where we found a nice guided group that agreed to give us fire. Then, it was a long but rewarding trudge back up to camp where we munched on delicious peanut sauce noodles (gado gado, a NOLS specialty introduced to me from the one and only Andy Davis) while sitting on an Incan terrace beneath a sky chock full of stars. Good old Orion, the only constellation I can find easily, was there just as he is in Seattle to say goodnight.
The next day we had a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and then made our way to the ruins which are still some of the most impressive I have ever seen. They sit high above the valley (11,800 ft) commanding an entire plateau and making it easy to lean against the carved stones and daydream about what it must have been like when it was a working, living city. After a short respite we descended down, down, down through another canyon and into the city of Lamay. We shared the last of the trail mix on the bus ride back, all a little bit sun-kissed and glad to be sitting. Not even losing our boxed wine on the taxi ride there, forgetting fire, losing a head lamp, Joey being allergic to the flowers we camped amongst, or a bum knee could tarnish the beauty of spending a few wonderful days out in the nature with people you love.