Friday, 5 November 2010

Santa Cruz Trek, Huaraz, Peru

I had 3 more treks on my ''to do'' list, and Santa Cruz was the easiest. Only 4 days and accessible without any guidance, we decided to find some partners to share the costs.
We walked around rumors & hostels in Huaraz, searching for the right people willing to join the ''adventurous'' us.
''Without a guide? Too crazy for me.''
''How are we to find donkeys to carry our stuff?"
And so, luckily we met Eido. Eido just came back from the Huayhuash trek, and was eager to keep on trekking. 3 was a good number, but still turned out expensive. So we kept on searching.
Jutta & Tal also returned in the same group with Eido, but Jutta wanted to wait until her blistered legs felt better. Because the three of us were really slow going and took our time in search & in arranging the trek, Jutta's legs manages to get better and - HOP - we were a good group of five. Paz, Eido, Jutta, Tal & I.
Happy we have a group, we now concentrated on the trek itself. We bought food and rented tents. Even set up with a company to call one "harriero" (donkey operator), so that we would meet with him in the starting point village.
All set and ready we took the 6 o'clock bus to Vaqueria. Peru like Peru, the bus left late and arrived later than our wildest bad dream. And to add up to all of that - no harriero.
A local woman washing cloths on the road offered us an operator - "just wait half an hour and he'll be here!" Two hours is how long it took us to give up, grab our belongings and start walking as happy as possible in search for a harriero in the closest village.
Eido ran ahead and completed the mission. 2 donkeys and a lovely harriero named Sesimo.
Time was against us, but we did manage walking for some 2 hours before sun-set and we "felt like knocking on heavens door". Setting camp, we built our 2 tents, and made a good rise and soup dinner.
The second day was the hardest. From camp (3800masl) we had to ascend to the Punto-Union pass (4750masl). Waking up early enough, making quick breakfast and planning on a sandwich lunch - we knew we had enough time. Five hours of climbing separated our group, putting Eido & Tal at the pass an hour before us. It took the rest of the group the exact 5 hours planed for the climb (amazing!).
Punto Union is said to be one of the prettiest viewpoint in South America. The clouds covering the picks made me disagree. What a shame climbing all that way and not seeing the complete view.
We did witness a photo-shoot made by the Japanese group arriving with us to the top. Those guys just amaze me every time I see them. They were busy taking photos of every possible combination between the 12 Japanese tourists & guide - with the sign of the pass. While every group was in position near the sign - all the cameras of the group were being used! Chaos and order all in the same time and all with the biggest smiles on their faces.
Descending to camp, we thought Tal & Eido were already waiting for us there - dinner already made and ready to eat. We were proven wrong. Apparently, they liked how the lagoon near the pass looked like and decided to approach it. Later, they were stuck underneath a big rock, using it as shelter from the pouring, sudden, September rain. We were really surprised to arrive to an empty campsite.
All we had to do on the 3rd day was a 2 hour detour and a 3 hour descent to the next camp. Morning time - it was raining, and so the other 4 were wusses and decided to wait until the rain stops and only then continue to camp (skipping the detour). I found myself walking in the company of Josh. Josh is just another AWESOME Kiwi (from NZ). We had a good walk, finding almost every topic to talk about - in our common interest. The climb up to the base camp was easy for us, but not for the animals. 10 minutes up from the Alpamayo base camp lies a lagoon as beautiful as Lake 69, only this time, instead of seeing the summits all around us (Alpamayo included), clouds were still unfriendly. So I did the only thing I could think of - gave my camera to Josh and jumped into the water, making sure there's coffee when I exit the water (of course!).
On the way down (switching the topic to un-religion), we met Eido, Tal & Jutta. The rain had stopped and they regretted their decision. Paz helped Sesimo with the donkeys. Josh & I arrived to camp early, met Paz and listened to good music. If you want to know what happened later - you'll have to check with my good friend Mr.Rum.
The last day of the Santa Cruz was short & easy. The path gets wider, and the way to Cashapampa is all down.
Where the river opens up, there were Eucalyptus trees, some frames really looked like the Golan-Heights back in Israel.
At the end of the trail awaited us a cab (colectivo), all six of us (now with Josh) rode it till the nearest city,where we awkwardly mounted a touristic van already following us all the way from Cashapampa.
Time was running out (for Paz anyways), so we took a single day of rest and joined a large group of Israelis for the famous Huayhuash trek, all ready to leave the day after that.
Having so much fun with Eido, Tal & Jutta - I felt sorry they'd already been to the Huayhuash.

Tips For The Santa Cruz:
- DIY! Do it yourself. There is public transportation to the starting/ending points, donkeys are easy and cheap to hire and anyone could cook for himself! To clear the fear of getting lost - ask the harriero to walk with you and not run to camp.
- The Alpamayo detour - Go for it. Anyone could finish this trek in 3 days, but taking the extra day for this detour is really worth it.
- Rum in Peru is cheap - I've discovered this fact far too late.

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