Megan “Hashbrown” Maxwell did Huayhuashalone and independently. She’s one tough hiker.
Still … she felt Huayhuash was the toughest hike of her life.
The Huayhuash Circuit is a beast of a trek. I would only recommend it if you have done a trek before and have an idea of what you’re getting into. I would only recommend going guide-less if you are at a confident level of backpacking experience, have taken the time to acclimatize, and are physically fit and able to carry a pack loaded with a week of food.
This circuit goes over a pass everyday, ranging from 15,400 to 16,500 feet (4,690 to 5,050 meters). This means you will be hiking slower than usual, due to the altitude, and the walking itself is physically taxing. This also means that you will have spectacular views of the Andes every single day. …
Mount Roraima is the highest of the many Table Mountains (tepuis) scattered over the grasslands of The Grand Sabana. The strange rock formations, quarts fields that look like a diamond encrusted fairy land, insect eating plants and many high waterfalls gives the whole area unreal feel and have been an inspiration to writers and movie makers. It is thought to have inspired Arthur Cone Doyle’s book ‘The Lost World’, published in 1912 …
Tours are normally 6 to 8 days, taking three days to reach the top, then one to three days exploring the top and it takes two more days to come down the same trail. You cannot hike this route independent since a guide is compulsory. There are many companies in Santa Elena that offers all-inclusive tours; you can also try to find an independent guide to lead your trek. …
The Ausangate circuit is a trek that is relative untouched by the massive tourism industry in Cusco. Because of that, this is one a hike where there is plenty of solitude. On the flip side, it is much tougher as it is about 1 km higher than Cusco with passes that go over 5 km in elevation (16k ft). …
… the trail is not marked and there are no signs to discriminate trails the locals use trail around the mountain. So, map skills, GPS, or a guide is imperative for a trek like this. All of this is pretty manageable for experienced backpackers.
However, we decided to add an additional layer to this already challenging task. There is information out there that the Rainbow Mountains are nearby and provides a side trip possibility. …
… The snow-capped peaks here are really high (many well over 6.000 mts – 19,500 ft) and the feeling of remoteness is fantastic. …
The whole circuit takes anywhere from 8 to 14 days to complete as there are different routes available. There is only one small town where you can re-stock on supplies which means you will need to carry all your food for 7-8 days if walking independently.
For that reason, most of the hikers decide to go with an organized tour. But hey, we are the Adventure Junkies. We can’t let a donkey carry our stuff up the mountain!
Pumalín Park (Spanish: Parque Pumalín) is a … private nature reserve in the Palena Province of Chile, created by the United States environmental foundation The Conservation Land Trust, which was endowed and led by the American business magnate Douglas Tompkins. …
We dropped into to the head office of this private park in Puerto Varas to get an update on progress.
Facilities have expanded since I visited Pubalin 11 years ago. The official map now has 17 campsites, 12 official short trails, 4 hotsprings. We were told there are no official overnight hikes. Yet.
On December 8, 2015, Tompkins was kayaking with five others on General Carrera Lake in southern Chile when strong waves caused their kayaks to capsize. Tompkins spent a “considerable amount of time” in waters 40 °F (4 °C) below. He was flown via helicopter to a hospital in nearby Coyhaique, where he died hours later from severe hypothermia. He was 72 years old …
My last day in Chile I was lucky enough to meet up with Jan Dudeck and his partner at the Santiago bus station.
We carbo-loaded on ice cream while I got a personal update on what happened on this their 3rd season on the long distance hike. Carrying an Alpacka packraft on sections.
Once back in Europe, Jan will be updating the wikiexplora page with new data. New alternative routes.
The Greater Patagonian is not an official trail but rather 1500km or more of connected best routes in Chile and Argentina. You’ll be lost for sure unless you have KMZ and GPX files downloaded from wikiexplora.
As they research possible new options Jan actually starts with cached Google Earth images. Then looks for the faint trails he sees there to mark waypoints on their GPS. They don’t bother carrying heavy topo maps.
Sunburn was my biggest worry at this point. I had plenty of No-Ad Sport Sunscreen slathered on, but this sun is unrelenting. I was wearing socks on my hands as they were most burnt, so far.
I made one last climb up to the “corner” of the valley to see if it looped back over a pass in the direction I wanted to go …
The cows thought I was crazy.
I was crazy. Odds were slim that it would work. I turned back here.
It was a relief, actually, to finally know where I was going.
River crossings are a big issue here. There are no bridges. Happily this was the most difficult I crossed. Not bad.
Descending to the hot springs, the group had already vacated. I had the place to myself. 🙂
One last look back up my side valley.
Mid-day I took the shade and studied Spanish for 90 minutes or so. Then resumed my high traverse of the massif.
Today the two condors came to check me out.
I was clinging to life yet. 🙂
People curse slogging through ash. Personally, I like it. Very soft on the feet. The best screeing surface possible.
I was surprised to come across 4 Chilean hikers in the afternoon. They had put up the tents and got directions from me to the hot springs. Two had just been married. This was part of the honeymoon. Both were just about to move to Montreal for work. Small world.
One of the guys asked me if I knew the way back to the Pass. Of course I did. I’d just come from that direction.
How could I get lost? 🙂
I got lost. 😦
Things truly do look completely different when walking the opposite direction.
My good camera had broken, the telescoping lens mechanism wrecked. 😦 I wasn’t in much of a mood to take photos in any case. 😦
My audio book – Red Rising by Pierce Brown – kept me going.
I was first diverted for about 2 hours. Then about 30 minutes. (Several times I considered backtracking to the honeymoon party tents. I could have walked out with them next morning.)
But – finally – I found the way back to Ánimas. I set up my tent above the lake at this junction of alpine meadow and desert. My best campsite.
It would be an excellent idea to enjoy the massive and impressive Mt. Decapitated vista from here. And turn back.
I dropped down to the other side crossing this field of snow and ash.
Laguna Mondaca looked too great a descent for me. I’d really rather not drop down that far and have to climb back up.
A high traverse trail on the right looked much more tempting. Quickly I decided to stay as high as I could. Returning by the same route if that trail didn’t loop around back to Valle de Indio.
I LOVE this kind of brutal & extreme landscape.
Surprisingly, it’s quite easy to find water here.
Wildflowers were still thriving in January.
The unofficial trail was excellent. I stayed as high as I could.
Though I could see for miles in every direction, I’d seen no wild mammals at yet. Goats were grazing very high up, circled by two very interested condors.
I tried to find some shade to take a siesta mid-day. This was one of the best.
I set up the tent to keep flies and wasps away.
This was a long but comparatively easy day, mostly gradually downhill. I decided to enter a side valley hoping it would loop back to where I started. (My GPS did not work and I had no map, so this was wild speculation.)
Entering the valley I smelled sulphur. I’d stumbled on to one of the many natural hot springs in the area. But a horse group was already camped there. I decided to wait until next day to have my bath.
I set up high and out-of-sight since there were cattle and people in this valley.
I was en route to hike the Cape Alava to Rialto Beach “Shipwreck Coast” on the Olympic peninsulaend of June.
But when I dropped by the the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles on the way to the trailhead, Rangers informed me that famed High Divide Loop (7 Lakes Basin) was open early this year. Winter had dropped very little snow on the high peaks.
I instantly changed my plan. You can hike the Shipwreck Coast almost any time. But the High Divide Loop window is time limited. Late July to mid-October most years.
The High Divide Loop is very weather dependent. I arrived during a heat wave. Blue skies. Quite rare in the high mountains of the rainy coast.