Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Pass

October 27, 2011

The Pass

Thursday we headed to the town of Yanque, where we had reservations at an amazing resort in a canyon with hot springs. It was close to the deepest canyon in the world, where we planned on visiting Friday in order to see condors.

I looked on google maps and noticed there was a major road that bypassed Juliaca to the south. I definitely did not want to drive through that town again so I took it. Whenever the gps tries as hard as it can to get me to take the main road, I know I am in for a good day.

The road started off paved and went through a little town called Atuncalla. The land was very rocky and everyone lived in these really cool looking stone houses. Past the town I had to turn right on a dirt road. Whoa. It was rough. It had large, loose gravel everywhere. This is tough on a bike because you have no traction. But, it was beautiful. I passed a pretty lake and headed west. Three times I had to shoot off the road onto a field because men were working digging a ditch through the road. Eventually I looked down to see my gps with angry red directions to turn around. The little black arrow that was me was in the middle of a blank space, not on a road. I asked for directions and turned around. It turns out I missed my road because it was barely there!! It was a tiny two track that was so washed out only motorcycles could pass. Thanks google maps, nice major highway. But actually it was a lot of fun to drive on it, and I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. The houses were sparse and I really felt like an adventurer out in the middle of the vast expanse of southern Peru. Haha, little did I know what was ahead for me.

Cool stone houses

Cool lake

Major highway

I made it to the main road and climbed up to 14,000 feet to see a beautiful lake. It then turned into a series of climbs towards a national reservation. Wow. Off in the distance I could see some monster mountains. The terrain started to turn into a desert and I stopped at a bus station near a major crossroads. It turns out all the tourist buses stop there to use the bathroom and buy souvenirs. A man from Columbia talked to me and invited me to visit when I go through. I plan on it. Then the group found me. It turns out they had been waiting there a while and had to change buses. Cool, now I could just follow their van the rest of the way to Yanque.

Flamingos at 14,000 feet

Pretty lake

Mountains WAY off in the distance, very cool

Entering the national park

I've learned bridges are a great place for photos

The next part was awesome, I climbed higher and higher into the mountains. It was so beautiful, and I watched my gps climb well into 15,000 feet. I was hoping to break my record set back in August, and was not disappointed. I stopped at the pass, 16,050 feet, which is my new highest elevation outside of an airplane. I just stared at the landscape in front of me. Off to one side, I noticed what looked like a straight plume of smoke. It turns out they were a series of tornadoes! Just as I started up the bike to leave, it started snowing. We grabbed some photos and twisted down thousands of feet into the town below.

Beginning to climb up to 16,000 feet

Swamps in a valley

Starting to climb

Still climbing

Wild alpacas during the climb

Tornado at 16,050 feet

It just started snowing

In case you don't believe me

The ride down

This is our resort

A view of our canyon

The resort was amazing. The five of us went immediately into the hot springs and stayed there for hours. I really needed that. We basically tried to solve all the world’s problems while chatting in the relaxing water.

It was a good day.

We each got robes for the springs

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