White-capped Mountains in View

Alfred and Michelle emerging from a tunnel

Alfred and Michelle emerging from a tunnel

cactus near gravel pit camp

cactus near gravel pit camp

cross along one lane gorge roadway

cross along one lane gorge roadway

white capped mountains getting nearer

white capped mountains getting nearer

Since leaving Huanchaco and the sea we have been steadily climbing again towards the mountains along the spine of the Andes.  We have had two bush camps and now have arrived in Caraz and a hostel.  For this group the term bush camp merely means camping without facilities.  Some of the camps we’ll have down the road will be in campgrounds with showers,etc.  Last nights camp was actually in a gravel pit and an active one at that.  Dust, dirt and swirling winds greeted us as our little caravan settled in to the type of environment  which totally coats everything you present to it.  The grit even coats your teeth and your tongue and finds its way into your pores.  We left the Pan Am roadway two days ago and have been following an amazing river gorge surrounded by high desert eroded mountain sides.  Originally designed as a railway, this single track dirt road weaves its way through tunnels, switchbacks and twists and turns as it follows the sides of the gorge below.  One peers over the exposed sides of this undulating path and you quickly realize that sure death swallows anyone unlucky enough to catch the edge and plummet.  The switchbacks themselves have hairpin turns that defy the turning radius of the trucks and buses gutsy enough t0 take this route.  We have put on wider tires for this rough surface.  It more resembles pitted rock than the washboard bounce of many of our gravel roads.  Difficult to stay on any type of smooth surface for more than a short distance your core gets jolted and bounced as you attempt to navigate your way through the stony maze.  I enjoy the climbs on this surface but the descents will shake you thoroughly.  We haven’t had too many descents as we have gained 2300 meters of actual altitude since the sea breezes we had been relaxing in.  As we climb along in the river gorge the flowing waters rushing below and the undulating canyons play a trick on your senses.  It often  feels like you are descending even though you are actually climbing on much of the pedaling.  You have to look at the river to realize that yes it is flowing down and you are climbing up.  Of course on the steeper switchbacks there is no question which direction you are heading.  I do better on this surface than some of my fellow bikers because it is more of what I am used to cycling.  The gravel roads of Cook County don’t have the big climbs and deep descents but they do have the rough surface.  The morning biking is very pleasant but after the sun gets higher it gets very warm.  I don’t do well with the heat and try to get a good start to avoid biking very late in the afternoon  Today I arrived at our hostel by 1:30 and was very glad to be here as it started to warm up by 11 – I went through all of my water in getting here.  We had several views of the snow-capped mountains that we are approaching.  By Wednesday we will have more than doubled our actual elevation as we reach 4800 meters,  Prior to that we have a days rest in Huaraz.  My friend Terry has an interview to do in Huaraz the particulars of which I’m not certain but he wants to cycle in early tomorrow to get ready.  I will be interested in getting my gritty dusty clothes cleaned on our day off and a little time in the local square.  I’m hopeful that a good glass of wine may await me as well.  I’ll try to post a few photos.  I should mention that our cook Ellen, with help from Annelot our doctor, serves us wonderful meals during all of our camping evenings.  We all look forward to the healthy filling dishes and great desserts which help keep spirits high and memories of sore muscles short.

3 thoughts on “White-capped Mountains in View

  1. Buck Boy,
    Debbie & I look forward to your post . Still hard to imagine you still have over 3 months ago!!
    Thoroughly enjoyed your post about
    WHY????
    Thinking about you often & wish you well. Giving us seniors something to think about!!! Rondo

  2. Ah, Buck, you are now in my favorite part of Peru, the Callejon de Huaylas. This is also the route that Pizarro traveled on his way south to Cuzco. Caras, Carhuaz, Yungay, Huaraz, Recuay–it only gets better as you approach Laguna Conacocha. This is where I did my thesis work. Ask your leader to point out the Cueva del Guitarrero after you pass through Mancos. It is across the valley of the Rio Santa, “tan calderoso,” like it says in the the song (a haino, with the hankie waving in the dancer’s hand). I suppose it has all changed since I was there in the 1960’s. In Huaraz, if there is time, you should look up my old buddy, Hernan Amat Olazaval. Arqueologo Hernan Amat is now a distinguished Dean (Decano) at the regional University, but if he is still around, he will tell you good tales of meals shared and untold bottles of Ron Pomalca downed at Vicos and up in the Quebrada Honda. I wish I were there with you to give Hernan a gran abrazo! Vayan con Dios…

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