Not ones to stay down, the next morning we regrouped and relocated the trucks to another trailhead.
We found a nice little hacienda where we could camp and the host would cook us dinner, all for ~$5 each. Not bad!
We spent most of the day relaxing and drying out our camping/hiking gear, preparing to hit the trail the next morning.
It got pretty chilly that first night. The four of us huddled into the hacienda kitchen while the owner cooked up dinner. Soon enough our bellies were warmed with delicious sopa de avena (oatmeal soup).
While we devoured our food the old man regaled us with stories from his mountain. He had lived up there his entire life. We all poured over his logbook that went back years and years, crammed to the gills listing travelers from around the world.
A quick cup of coffee and some bread in the morning and we hit the trail. The old man told of us a cave up on the mountain that was a popular spot for people to camp. Once Brad and I learned the caves name is actually “Cueva del hombres” literally translated as “THE MAN CAVE”. Our destination was set in stone.
We set off through a valley of rolling green pastures.
We were sandwiched between beautiful set of mountainsides that jutted straight up out of the lush pasture into stark jagged rock.
Our hike took us down into another “Valley of Frailejones” and we stared in awe again at the Dr. Seuss-esque (yes thats a word) plant life.
After an easy stroll through the valley, the climbing finally began.
Looking back down into the valley.
We eventually reached a false-summit and turned further into the mountain. Some fellow trekkers built this giant cairn here to indicate the pass. I took a moment to add another rock to the pile. My mark on El Cocuy.
We were climbing through a surreal mountain landscape. The terrain was interspersed with frailejones, slick granite flats, scree, and crystal clear alpine lakes.
I am lollygagging along as usual when I hear a happy yelp off in the distance, as I crest the top of the hill I see the cave. It was massive! You can see some scale in this shot, look for Brad and Lauren hanging out up in the cave.
Lauren and I got to setting up our tent in the cave. We had an epic view of the glaciers from our temporary home. The peak is around 17,000Ft here. We are camped at ~14,000ft.
Nice spot for a pitch
Later that night, we busted out our 2nd most important piece of overlanding gear, after the Endless Breeze of course. The travel-sized version of the children’s game “Trouble”! This little piece of gear has kept us entertained for hours being stuck in the back of the truck/tent/airplane/wherever. ITS FUN GETTIN’ INTO TROUBLE!
“Trouble” deathmatch completed. We huddled up for a sleep. Not sure what the temp dropped to that night. I do know my 20F down-sleeping bag was hitting its limits. No oxygen and a freezing cold butt made for a rough night of sleep.
When we unzipped the tent flap in the morning we saw just how cold it had gotten…
Hmmm… This changes our plans. We had planned to spend the day fishing and hanging around the lakes. Nature had other plans for us. None of us were properly equipped for a full-day of hanging out in the snow. We decided to pack it up and head back down the mountain.
The snow was quickly turning to ice. We were all slipping and sliding while taking down our tents.
Brad contemplating the dangers of scaling back down the side of an ice-covered mountain in our glorified tennis-shoes.
With not much choice, We ghetto-rigged up some water proof boots by wrapping our socks in old grocery bags and walked off into the snow.
A hilariously freezing cold series of falling ensued. Time and time again we busted our arses on the slippery ice. It was pretty demoralizing but Hey! we were making progress.
This is what adventure is all about!
The mountain took on an entirely new personality as well. It was dangerously beautiful.
We slipped and slided our way back down the mountain. After 3 or 4 hours we made it back to our trucks and hightailed it back to town in search of hot meals and hotter showers.
We came, We saw, We got conquered.
Until we meet again El Cocuy….