Sunday 10th November 1985
Breathless and restless all night. Trudge very slowly due to the altitude up to the first pass at 13,776 feet. Cold and windy. The clouds descend around us. Steep descent the other side. So far the trial is just a simple rocky path. Hint of a few cut stone steps at the top of the pass. Top of the pass was 6+ miles from Wallybamba. Descend into a mossy wooded valley. Lots of flowers along the way, wild lupins, begonias, violets and numerous epiphytes and bromeliads. Surprised to see lots of humming birds, even saw one up at the pass. There are more than 60 species of hummingbird in the Andes. No condors up here, they are more numerous on the coast, where there is more food.
half way up the other side of the valley is a small ovoid Inca lodge commanding stunning views. Brew some coca tea. Have been chewing foul coca leaves on the way to help with the altitude. A mouth full of dry leaves and ash is quite emetic, but soon the saliva runs and the mouth goes numb. The path is paved with rough stones.
Climb the second pass at 13,120 feet.
The clouds clear for a dramatic view down the valley ahead. Bright green lake half way down. Follow the trail along the side of a steep grassy mountain to dramatic sight of the Sayajmarca ruins on a precipitous bluff at the junction of two valleys. From here you can see 3 Inca roads, one up each valley. Aqueducts, houses and small terraces are perched on a narrow site. We all camp on the little triangle of land at the tip of the site as the views are magisterial. Soup and noodles. The trial is clearly visible ahead, a white line curving along the side of the mountains. They seemed to prefer to keep high up and avoid the valley bottoms. Jessica is most inspired by it all. She is an inspired and romantic traveller, on her way home for Christmas after 5 years of fascinating adventures.