Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10/25 - Humantay Lake

This morning we had a later start as our planned activity was only going to be 1/2 day and then we were spending a second night at Salkantay Lodge. Our activity was hiking to Humantay Lake. Humantay Lake is a glacial lake at 14,000 ft. about 2 miles from the lodge.
Sadly, our fellow trekker who has been suffering from altitude sickness has not gotten any better. After consulting with a doctor Dalmiro sent her back to Cusco for medical attention. Lis is accompanying her so our party is done to 9 trekkers and our Lead Guide. Hopefully our fallen trekker can rejoin us down the trail in 3 or 4 days.
Dalmiro arranged for a local Andean priest, Santo, to come with us to Humantay Lake. There he will perform an extremely shortened traditional Andean ceremony honoring Mother Earth.
The hike today was more challenging than yesterday's but not overly so. Santo played his flute while we hiked which certainly added ambiance.  Along the way we passed by our Mule Driver Phillipe's house. His wife and daughter came out to join us. A few miles later Phillipe left his wife in charge of the mule so he could go help his brother plant a crop of potatoes. Phillipe's family is fairly well off due to his being a Mule Driver and they have numerous cows. When I asked Dalmiro "Are the cows were primarily for meat or milk?" He replied "Neither, they are the farmer's bank to be sold when needed.The locals are lactose intolerant and the meat is very tough due to the conditions the cows live in."
We saw two Andean Condors on this hike, both were adults (you can tell by the coloring of the head). They are massive birds, with a maximum wings span of 10 feet. Dalmiro was surprised to see two in one day, they are rather uncommon.
About 5 minutes after we arrived at the lake the drizzle became rain. Then small hail arrived. We managed to get some photos (and one of the others managed a quick dip) before Dalmiro decided the weather was too inclement to stay and watch the ceremony. Too great a risk of exposure/hypothermia so we headed down the mountain to Santo's melody.
Lunch was served shortly after our return.
Afterwards everyone had free time until our 6:30 briefing.  Planned hot tub time was short circuited as thunderstorms rolled through the valley.
Salkantay Lodge
Becca ready to start hiking.

Phillipe's House

Our group listening to Dalmiro talk about the river below.

First Condor Sighting.

Christian listens while Santo and Dalmiro play during a rest break.

Phillipe's herd. Also in the upper left is Phillipe's brother's field where they were planting potatoes.

Second Condor sighting later in the day.

Humantay Lake before the weather deteriorated.

Our tour group (minus Sue who returned to town for medical attention).

Dalmiro's Owl Mask he found on the trail (it is a dead yucca).
Every night we'd leave our hiking shoes on the stoops of the Lodges. The staff would clean them and then have them waiting for us in the lobby the next morning.

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