Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Santa Cruz: In

Huaraz has 24,000 ft glaciated peaks, and the finest weather of any high mountains in the world. So we decided to go for a hike.

Our bodies lurched through an unpleasant dance in various colectivos from Huaraz to Cashapama, which took more time than we thought. It was already midafternoon when we hit the trail, so we ended up camped only 20 minutes from the trailhead in Cashapampa on a grassy spot next an ebullient Río Santa Cruz.

Lower Río Santa Cruz and so many bromeliads

This proved fortuitous, since the next morning we made the acquaintance of a resident species of biting black fly that thrived in the canyon between 3300 meters and 3700 meters--where we had contemplating making camp (in our open tarp) the day before. With our early start we were able to camp above its awful kingdom. In camp, we spent a pleasant evening scratching our dozens of itchy, red welts and watching cows defecate in the stream we our drinking water was coming from.

Slight navigation error before our camp in Quishuar the second night
From Santa cruz

Full moon lighting camp
From Santa cruz

Giving the cows a taste of their own medicine
From Santa cruz

It rained overnight, but the next day dawned fair. We detoured from the trail and hiked up a side canyon to the south-side basecamp for Alpamayo. The clouds quickly moved in, so that view were pretty hide-and-seek by the time we made it up the lake where its southern icefall had carved out.
From Santa cruz

Poor Bessie, evidence of the constant ranching activity in the valley

Cairn and a peak in the Nevados de Caraz
From Santa cruz

The lakes in the area have a seemingly-strange series of dikes and channels. But the shifty glacial moraines that dam many of them have burst after earthquakes or seracfall. This caused a number of horrific aluviones (mudflows), the most infamous of which buried all 25,000 inhabitants of the city of Yungay alive. Now the lakes that might threaten the valley has been excavated or reinforced.

After admiring the engineering at Lake Ayhueycocha, we descended back to the valley, collected our craftily disguised cache of gear and hiked to the camp below the main difficulty of the hike, the 15,600 foot Punta de Unión.

1 comment:

  1. The biting flies sound nasty. Several weeks ago we saw many unusal brightly colored bromelids at the conservatory at volunteer park in Seattle - but you have been seeing them in situ in their natural environment.