I needed a day of recovery, both mentally and physically, after our Colca Canyon trek so I could edit my pictures and compose this blog. We're now back in Arequipa and loving it.
This was a beautiful trip, but also very eye opening as to the effects of altitude on my muscles. As most of you know, we trained for this trip by hiking 8-10 miles nearly every day (carrying a daypack) for the last 2-3 weeks before we left. I was calling it "boot camp" and we developed calluses where blisters were, and our boots were very well broken in. The only thing we couldn't replicate or predict was altitude. The hike down into the canyon took 3 hours and we dropped 3000 feet. After 2 hours, my legs were rubbery noodles, and I kept needing to stop to give them a rest, so I wouldn't fall anymore. I took 2 tumbles, but luckily just ended up with some bruises on my left hand and arm. We were supposed to have lunch, then hike 3 more hours to "the oasis", but I was done. Our guide called ahead, and changed our lodging to the small, primitive but clean room at the restaurant where we had lunch. He also arranged for me to get a mule ride back up the trail.
The sky that night was unbelievable - the Milky Way was straight overhead, and the stars were innumerable. Gorgeous! I haven't learned yet to take time lapse or night photos, or there'd be a picture here.
We awoke at 0400 to have tea and pack, before the man with the mule arrived at 0430, and Steve and our guide started hiking back out. It was only really dark for about 45 minutes, then the man let the mule pick its own way up the steps and rocks. I am SO glad I swallowed any pride I had left, and took that ride.
I talked to Steve at the top, and he was nearly done in. He said that I made a very wise choice not to hike back out. I did hike the last 2 km, after conveying my desire to the mule owner in minimal broken Spanish and pantomime, and that was enough to have my legs scream at me for the last 2 days.
The Rio Colca at the bottom of the canyon was quite anticlimactic:
Our trail is barely visible on the left of the picture as the zigzag white line up the hill beneath the apparent broken rock face. On our way back up, we realized the trail actually crossed that rock face, but you can't see it from the vantage point of this picture.
I'll do another post later today to share the awesome wildlife pictures I got.