June 16, 2006

Day 7: Ankascocha/Keska

Students climbed the highest pass called Ankascocha (15,650 ft / 4,770 m). With snow-capped peaks all around, the trail continued past small farmsteads and patchwork fields to the Keska Valley and Paucarcancha, a recently restored Inca site that was once a checkpoint at the confluence of the Keska and Pampacahua valleys. Camp was pitched near the village of Keska (11,810 ft / 3,600 m).

Live field report

Day 7 // June 16, 2006 // Max Lowe

The soft request for hot water or coca tea rose me from my deep sleep this morning as the rays of morning sun poured through the opening in my tent flap. Our group was treated with a gourmet breakfast of French toast topped with strawberry jam and butter. Once again, the Super Inca group was split into two groups, one for the slower hiker’s and one for the quicker traveling group.

We headed out of camp at around 7:30 and began the hardest hike of the trip. We began the decent up a steep cliff face with a cascading waterfall on our right and an 800 foot slide down a slope of scree on our right. Today was the 8th day of our journey and so far the group has been working well as a team. All the Super Incas had been acclimatizing well and had been feeling well in the morning. The accent of Wayana pass was to be our challenge today. From our camp at 14300 feet, we were to climb over 1000 feet in less than 2 miles to the top of the pass.

We made the ascent in less then 4 hours and stood on the top of the pass at around 11:30 AM. We had a group celebration and rejoiced at the toughest and highest point of our trip behind us. With the climb behind us, the group started the trip down the opposite side of the pass which was less steep but slightly more hazardous, with more rocks and more frequent cricks. The golden brown hill side was dotted with a multitude of cows, sheep and goats. As we hiked down into the deep valley behind the pass, the sun peeked out from behind huge cumulous clouds every five minutes and warmed our backs before delving back into the cloud cover to leave us shivering in shadow.

We ate lunch in the company of a herd of cows and with the beautiful scenery of a 200 foot waterfall, several yards away. As the group continued on down the valley, the steep rock strewn fields of golden grass turned into green fields cris crossed by creeks and walled in by two huge rock walls rising up into the clouds. We hiked throughout the afternoon and arrived in camp roughly 7 hours after we had left the morning camp. From here on, all the terrain will be down hill to Machu Pichu.

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Letters of Support

Good luck with your trip. I know you will enjoy all the new and great experiences. I will be interested in hearing about your travels and the people you meet along the way. Have a great trip! Love to Alysha

Alysha's Grandmother Kay

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