Cachiccata Treck + Peru Amazon, Jun 2011

Greg Litten

We had the Cachittata 4-day trek. What an amazing and humbling adventure - and not for the reasons printed on any brochure. On the second morning of the trek, my wife and I woke up at 12,500 feet to the first winter snow there in five years. Without crampons and proper winter gear we weren't going to continue the rest of the trek, or risk anyones neck to go higher. So, we turned back with our lead guide and started a slipperly climb back below snowline. As we decended past mountian tops and Incan ruins covered in fresh snow, we treked with Perivian mountain villagers. They wore little more than a shirt, pocho,wool shorts and sandles for covering as they herded their sheep in the cold muck. Our journey 5,000ft down to the valley floor ended up being by foot, and then by bouncing in the back of a covered truck with a dozen locals taking their produce of herbs to market.

Little did we know, as we were hiking out if the snow, our pack llamas had escaped the wranglers. Llamas do what llamas do... they ran up the 14,500 foot mountain pass! So, our llamas still had the camping gear and the poors wranglers felt they had no choice but to chase them (in sandals and shorts) in the deepening snow. This was the same mountain pass we had decided to not go over. It was surreal and humbling twelve-hours later to be reunited with the llama wrangers who had just completed in horrible conditions what we were planning on doing over four clear days. The llamas claimed innocence - still chewing grasses and looking like a flock of "Beekers" as they came around the last corner. Even though we never got to see the higher of the Andean peaks on our abbreviated trek, we got to experience humanity, poverty, humour, survival and dedication beyond words.