The Cordillera Blanca, in Brilliant Technicolor!

Rachel and I just got back from Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca. With the help of our guide (don't sneer at me, Michael Hanley: they won't let you into the park without one), a local guy and his two donkeys (okay, maybe that was a bit of an indulgence), a conservative Quebecois gentleman, and a new buddy from Boston, we did the Santa Cruz trek in three days. It was magnificent and perhaps a little bit more challenging than we had anticipated. Here's the story in pictures:

Day 1. Huaripampa: full of cows, cuy farms, and the occasional Italian resort.

End of Day 1. Smooth sailing so far.

Day 2. We catch glimpses of the mountain Taulliraju. Bring it on.

We're not gonna let a little rain get us down.

I vaguely remember thinking at this point that we were close to the top. I was wrong.
One day we'll look back on this moment and laugh...

Several hours of climbing later, with nothing but our strong wills and two packs of strawberry-flavored knock-off Oreos to sustain us, we finally reach the pass.

It was worth it.

The classic Hanley Vacation Shot, except that I'm in front of a glacier. Hi, Mom!

(It's worth noting here that this mountain was completely covered in glacial ice eight years ago, and now it's rapidly melting.)

At this point we realize that Rachel is suffering from altitude sickness. Time to head to lower ground.

Day 3. Oh, gosh.

Then Rachel's hands inexplicably swell to twice their normal size. Hmmm. That's funny.
Ah well, onwards!

Burro brawl just outside of Llama Corral.

In Cashapampa, at the end of the trail:
sunburned, bug-bitten, in caffeine withdrawal, but happy.

I'm off to California for my sister's graduation, and then my buddies Emily and Lauren are coming to visit at the end of May, so GA may be a bit ocupada for a while. Expect to hear more from me in June.

In the meantime, if your curiosity is not yet sated, more pictures from the trek are available on my facebook page. And, if you're going to be in Claremont in the next week, shoot me an e-mail! I won't have a cell phone, so we'll have to make plans and stick to them. Just like in ancient times.

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