by Erin Elaine
Day 2 – Ayapata to Warmiwañusca (5km/3mi, 900m/2950ft elevation gain) then downhill 6km to camp at Pacaymayu at 3400m.
I was feeling pretty good the first morning of waking up in a tent. I got a decent amount of sleep and woke up feeling refreshed and luckily not sore at all! After a filling hot sunrise breakfast, we hit the trail.
Here’s a shot of some of the porters heading up the steps. Porters from every company were passing us all day. No matter how fast of a hiker you are, the porters WILL pass you. They all do great at their work and seeing this beautiful trail would not be possible without them. (I didn’t hire an “extra” porter, as 75% of hikers do, and yet there were still 4 porters needed just for the supplies for myself and my guide. They carry the tents and all the cooking equipment on their backs.) Most of the companies seemed to not overload the porters (although pack weight can’t really be deduced based on pack size). However, anytime I saw porters for LIMATOURS the packs were much larger than the packs for any other company, and some of them even had extra items strapped to the outside of the packs. I personally wouldn’t hire them.
Some of the (literally) breathtaking scenery on the way up to Warmiwañusca. Warmiwañusca is at 4200m which is 13,779 feet!!! The only point higher in Washington state is Mt. Rainier. And this is a PASS, not even a summit. I was gasping with each breath. When hiking at low altitude, I often pause to catch my breath, but that did absolutely no good here. The second you take a single step you’re gasping just as hard, so you might as well embrace it and just keep plugging along.
Made it to the top! This was such an exhilarating achievement! It’s hard to choose a “favorite” moment in the hike, because I immediately think of four others that could be favorites, but this was definitely a contender.
Heading back down the other side.
We descended to Pacaymayu to camp for the night. The descent was actually harder on me than the ascent, which was strange. The uneven steps were much more difficult going down than up, plus my energy was definitely waning.