Monday, June 30, 2008
Yanamarey Glacier & Pampas
We reached 4800 meters! Jeff McKenzie, Sara Knox, Jeff Bury, and Adam French and I hiked in two groups up to the hut near the terminus of the Yanamarey Glacier. Jeff M., Sara, and I sampled water in the pampa lowlands on the way up. These mushy grasslands are great sponges. The pampas filter and store much of the highly mineralized water that courses directly in front of the glacier. They likely serve the same role as wetlands do at higher latitudes.
As Jeff M., Sara, and I sampled, Jeff B. and Adam loaded our extra gear onto two hired horses. The local man who lead these horses was one of the worst they had ever hired in their multiple trips up this valley. (Starting with not having rope to tie our gear to the horses).
Just before dusk we reached the tin and stone hut at the base of the Yanamarey. In spite of my past 3 days of less than perfect health, I felt well enough to be on dinner and tea crew and Adam and I made a big pot of potato stew. Soon after eating we all slept in a tight row and I made sure to avoid flailing my arms and legs around to stretch them out.
I am glad that I felt well at night, because the morning was more difficult and required some mental readiness and a few Advil. The altitude was slower paced and breathier than lower elevations. I'm sure that my sample bottles from these heights have wiggly writing born from my new strange body. But the views were worth every bit of this surreal experience.