Sometimes the plan goes wrong, and so you have a back-up plan. Then the back-up goes wrong as well as the back-up to the back-up and the emergency back-up. The directions were wrong; the robbers take everything; the street food wasn’t cooked; or, in my case, the ATM eats your 2nd card leaving with 25 bucks in your wallet and a $23.00 tab already rung up at your hostel. I could probably get by on $2.00 for a few weeks until new cards arrived- but this meant canceling the trip to Jatun Machay. I had been stoked on these ancient rock towers since I heard about it months ago in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. Letting go wasn’t easy.
“Stand firm in your calamity and be equally amused with those things that succeed as you are with those things that fail”
This sage advice and a loan from the family set me back on track. And that track started at Kilometer 131 of Peruvian Hwy 3N inbetween Catac and Conoconcha. It was possible to pay more for a taxi to the stone refuge my friend and I were staying at, but the hike up gave us perspective. We passed stone huts belonging to local sheep farmers. Crossed through their herds, stopping to pet the bravest lambs I’ve come across. Our back drop was the yawning jaws of the Cordilla Blanca, a mountain range alive with peaks, shadows, and glaciers.
Our home for the next three days was a tent pitched next to the refuge. The owners built the hut themselves after discovering the amazing hiking and rock climbing opportunities nearby. The site has a raw feel, as things are still being discovered. We met Chris and Scott who had come from the US South to develop boulder lines. Every day they would leave with crash pads and tooth brushes to clean out moss and lichen before claiming first accents. Juan and Navey from Argentina invited us to sport climb in the afternoon. It was the first time I had roped up outside since a family trip to Smith Rocks as a kid.
Like a smooth transition or the right ollie through a tree line, it’s hard to explain why my time was so good. Was it the camp lodge vibes? Cooking curry and sharing coca tea with locals? Was it the endless bouldering and sport climbing scattered around a maze of rock towers? Exploring 10,000 year old petrogliph caves? Hiking to mountain vistas at sunset? All of it folded together into something good. Something I can put into my back pocket and save for if- or when- things go wrong again.