Backpacking the Trans-Zion Traverse Day 1: Lee Pass to La Verkin Creek

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Day 1: Lee Pass Trailside to La Verkin Creek, Campsite #11, 7 miles

The sound of the 5 am alarm waking us up in our tent at Ponderosa Ranch comes way too early. We try to snooze, but the excitement and anticipation for what is ahead won’t allow us to sleep, and our game of possum is over. It’s cold, so we try to pack up all we can while still staying warm and cozy in our sleeping bags. First, we let the air out of our mattresses, then put on a warm top layer. Next, we deflate and pack the pillow, and then there’s nothing left to do. We have to come out of our sweet sleeping bags. Brrr! (more…)

Shaking It Down on the Trans-Zion Traverse

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As many of you may already know, we are on a quest to hike the classic treks of the world. In recent years we have trekked Patagonia’s ‘W’ and Mt. Fitzroy, Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit, Iceland’s Laugavegur Trail, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier, Himalayan treks in India and both Machu Picchu and the Cordilleras of Peru. This amazing hiking adventure has allowed us the opportunity to see and experience some of the most beautiful natural places in the world and has been mind-blowing to say the very least. The more we do, the more we want to see! (more…)

Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash: Days 7-10

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Here we go! We have one final leg of the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit to go, and it is quite possible that this incredible trek was saving the very best for last. On Day 7 we left civilization behind and headed back into the heart of the Huayhuash, traversing a grandiose valley and getting close up views of Diablo Mudo, a colorful landscape and a nighttime sky full of stars. An alpine ridgewalk to a spectacular viewpoint on Day 8 may just be one of the most magnificent miles of hiking we have ever done. Pair that with a treacherous descent down to a lovely lakefront campsite, and you’ve got one memorable day of hiking that we are not likely to forget anytime soon. Days 9 and 10 saw us trekking away from the mountains, into the desert and back to civilization. The Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit will definitely go down as one of the world’s Classic Hikes in our book. So read on to see how this wild ride in the High Andes of Peru ends! (more…)

Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit: Days 4-6

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With three days under our belt, we started hitting our groove on Leg 2 of the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit. By this point, we were growing a little more accustomed to the steep trails, the extreme elevations, and even the frigid nighttime temperatures that are de rigor when trekking in the Cordilleras. And the scenery? Well, if we spent a lifetime in the Cordillera, we would never get used to scenery this incredible. Each day, the stunning Peruvian landscape continued to knock our socks off as we trekked past peaceful reflecting pools, roaring rivers, gargantuan glaciers and grand valleys so vast they appeared to stretch along the horizon forever. Other notable moments on this leg of our journey included soaking in relaxing hot springs, topping the 5000 meter mark on the trail and sleeping right in the middle of a soccer field. No joke. So, lace up those hiking boots and come along for the ride on Days 4, 5 and 6 of the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit. You won’t regret it! (more…)

Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit: Days 1-3

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After completing the Cedros-Alpamayo Circuit in the Cordillera Blanca, we had a full rest day in Huaraz to shower, get our laundry done, repack and enjoy some celebratory beers. Mission completed, we were ready and eager to lace up our hiking boots again and see what the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit was all about. For this trek, we were joined by our friends, Glenn and Erika, whom we met through this very blog when they were researching a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro a few years back, and we were all excited to start this new adventure together. (more…)

Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit

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Ah, Peru! It must be a blessing and a curse to have the majestic Andes running right through your country. So many great hikes to choose from, so little time! And most hikers don’t even realize all that you have to offer, making Machu Picchu their first and sometimes only trekking port of call, as we did back in 2009. But, if they take a little more time to get to know you, intrepid hikers longing for more adventure would make their next stop Huaraz, the popular center for trekking in your majestic Cordillera Range. (more…)

Highs and Lows of Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Blanca: Days 7-11

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The last five days of the Cedros-Alpamayo Circuit were, in many ways, the most remote and the most dramatic portion of our experience of the Cordillera Blanca. Now that the popular Santa Cruz portion of the trek was days behind us, we ran into far fewer hikers and felt like we had this alpine wonderland largely to ourselves, that is, except for the sheep and alpaca. Day 7 brought us to the Cara Cara Pass and revealed the first of many stunning views of the picturesque namesake peak of Alpamayo. Day 8 was a short and relatively easy trek that afforded us time to explore the moraine below Alpamayo before leisurely stolling down Quebrada Alpamayo on a relatively flat path for a change. Day 9 presented a long and challenging 2-pass day with impressive views of Laguna Cullicocha at the end to erase at least some of the weariness. Day 10 began the long, slow departure from the mountains as we headed out of the Cordillera Blanca and down toward the village of Hualcayan. Day 11 finished the trek and brought us back to Huaraz for a few creature comforts: hot showers and cold beer to celebrate our successful return! (more…)

Highs & Lows of Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Blanca: Days 4-6

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Days 4-6 on the Cedros-Alpamayo Circuit saw us saying farewell to the Santa Cruz Valley and crossing the Alto Pucaraju Pass into the Alpamayo side of the Cordillera.  The remoteness of the Cordillera Blanca gradually sinks in as we head deep into the heart of this magnificent range. Although this section of the trail takes us through the occasional small mountain hamlet, civilization is far from our minds as dazzling turquoise lakes, soaring jagged peaks and high mountain passes become our constant companions.  (more…)

Highs and Lows of Trekking Peru’s Cordillera Blanca: Days 1-3

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Most people who travel to the Cordillera Blanca come to enjoy the Santa Cruz Trek, a popular 4-day hike which passes over Punta Union (4750 meters/15,584 feet) at its highest point. We wanted to stay longer in the Cordillera and see it from all sides, so we opted instead for the Cedros-Alpamayo Circuit, which combines the Santa Cruz Trek with the Alpamayo trek in the adjacent valley. Beginning in Cashapampa and proceeding counter-clockwise to the end point in Hualcayan, this route allows you to immerse yourself in the mountain culture of Peru and experience this spectacular range of peaks from nearly every side. Our itinerary had us complete the circuit over the course of 11 days, allowing us to hike and photograph at a leisurely pace. (more…)

Your Guide to Peru’s Cordillera Blanca: The Cedros-Alpamayo Circuit

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Mention hiking in Peru and chances are that most people immediately think of the classic trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Well, here’s a little secret: while the Inca Trail is fantastic, it’s not the only game in town. Many people may not realize that Peru is home to countless other trekking opportunities that can give the world-famous (and extremely popular) Inca Trail a serious run for its money any day of the week. So, if you are looking for a serious romp through a beautiful alpine paradise with only a handful of other people, have we got a place for you!  (more…)