05.04.2013 - 05.04.2013 55 °F
Today I got up at 5:30 to go on a day hike to Laguna 69. The bus left about 6:15 and started down a deep valley on a paved road.
Then, it started ascending on a poorly maintained dirt road. As we ascended the snowcapped Cordillera Blanca came into view.
The Glacier covered Huarascán
At 8 we stopped at a restaurant but we couldn't leave right away because the bus had a flat.
Clouds were starting to form but views were still good. Often in the mountains this is not a good sign.
We left at 9 and got to Huarascán National Park soonafter. We entered into a steep gorge and went up many switchbacks.
Eventually Huarascán itself at 6768 meters (22,300 feet) came into view covered in white above the steep cliffs. It is the fourth highest mountain in South America and the highest in the tropical zone in the world.
Then a laguna came into view, Llanganuco Chinancocha. This might be the most impressive mountain I've seen as it towers over everything!
The laguna itself was located at 3800 meters (12,500 feet) and seemed to hang in the sky with the clouds.
Behind the first lake was a second, Llanganuco Orcancocha with reflections of Huarascán in it!
Not too long after the second lake was our hike trailhead also at 3800 meters (12,500 feet). The hike began with a stream.
Then it opened up to a field of cows with increadible mountains in the background.
Clouds thickened, however, but the scenery was still amazing. Huarascán went into the clouds but not before I got this photo looking back from the trail.
Ascending a bit, we reached an amazing waterfall.
And also a small pond/lake.
Above this clouds obscured mountains in 3 directions and I was unsure what would be visible at the laguna. The weather cooperated though revealing one of the most spectacular sites I've seen! The brilliant blue lagoon had a waterfall flowing into it and mountains of 19,000 to 20,000 feet closely surrounding the 15,200 ft lagoon.
I spent an hour and a half up there and then headed back. The bus left at about 4:30. It began to rain almost immediately.
The rain turned into a downpour and hail. Heading down the steep wet dirt road in the dark at about 6 PM a car tried to get by going the other direction and scraped the bus. There was no major damage but we had to wait 30 minutes as both sides negotiated.
Once we got going again it was uneventful but we got back after 8, a 14 hour day.
I had no time and was to tired to attempt, find, or prep for a hike the following day but today was great in itself as it gave me a taste of the best in the area.