Day 160 – San Luis, PE to Huaraz, PE

Day 160 – San Luis, PE to Huaraz, PE      01/28/11      Mileage: 94

It rained all night and was still raining in the morning which was not what had hoped for. It meant the road would be even worse than yesterday and the odds on getting to see the high peaks slim. There was no use in delaying the inevitable, so I packed the bike and wallowed down the road in the rain. The road was a mess and one guy I stopped to ask for directions didn’t even think the road over the pass was even open…..oh grand. Well I sure as shit wasn’t going back, so I continued on and hoped for the best. After a while the rain stopped, but the damage to the road had been done.

The nice little mountain town of Santa Catalina…

The reprieve from the rain soon ended and the air was getting colder and thinner with every passing mile. Crossing 15,000 feet high, the rain turned to sleet and then to….snow!

Damn…where the hell are my skis! The road topped out at 16,080 feet and there was a foot of fresh snow on the ground.

 Luckily a few other vehicles had cleared two tire tracks so I at least could see where I was going.

The road continued to snake its way down from the pass to the high alpine valley below where I stopped to rest and to take it all in.

The rest of the ride was nice roll down to the lower valley and the town of Huaraz where I got a room and some dinner. Tomorrow it’s off to tour the ruins of Chavin.

Parting shot: It didn’t occur to me until I downloaded my pictures that the only picture I took of the town of Huaraz was this one…not sure what that means?

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Day 159 – Caraz, PE to San Luis, PE

Day 159 – Caraz, PE to San Luis, PE      01/27/11      Mileage: 91

I wanted to get an early start today, but my laundry that was supposed to be ready by 8 wasn’t ready until 10. Bollix. The weather was also not cooperating, as it was it was overcast in the valley and the clouds were low on the mountains obscuring the high peaks…and it looked like rain up there too.

The easy thing to do would have been to just ride the pavement right down the valley to Huaraz…maybe stop off at the hot springs for a soak. But, that wouldn’t be the adventurous thing to do now would it….sometimes you have to play the hand your dealt. So, with that it was up into the mountains in the hopes that the weather would improve and I would get at least a glimpse of the highest peaks in the Cordillera Blanca…and Peru.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_Blanca

The weather continued to look bleak, but I pressed on higher up the pass.

Looking back across the valley at the Cordillera Negra

Looking up at the Cordillera Blanca

I came into a nice high alpine valley and the cloud cover was only 1 or 2 hundred feet above the valley floor.

As I climbed higher the clouds broke a bit and I got a few fleeting looks at the glaciers, but the highest peaks were still obscured.

Looking down at the countless switchbacks…

The road up the pass topped out at 15,462 feet…higher than any mountains in Colorado!!

 The rain started on the other side of the pass and the mud was slippery but manageable.

I was still hoping for a break in the weather…as my planned route would take me back across the Cordillera on the way to Huaraz…so I had one more shot. The rain and muddy road made for a slow go, and combined with my late start, I soon realized I would have just barely enough daylight to make it to Huaraz…so long as I kept rolling. Soon after making that calculation, I happened on a stranded local biker on the side of the road. He had broken his chain and was SOL…as the nearest town is 20 miles back…and almost all up hill. With my time/distance calculation fresh in my head, the writing was on the wall. If I stop and help…I won’t make it to Huaraz…if I pass by…I will anger the karma gods!

Shit…well, I always have my tent as a last resort I guess…so I pulled over. I dug out my chain breaker and one of my spare master links and set about fixing his chain. My spare 520 O-ring master link wasn’t going to work on the small non-O-ring chain, so I reused the pin that I had pressed out to pin the chain together.

We used a piece of rebar and a rock to peen over the head of the pin as best we could. Not pretty, and I doubt it will last, but it will at least get him rolling again. Good deed for the day done and karma gods appeased, I continued up the pass. Soon the roads turned to thick sloppy mud slicker than anything I’ve ridden before. I almost laid the bike down at least a dozen times, and on the 13th I did. Both tires slid out from under me and I was left straddling the bike on it’s side. Of course it was in front of a group of houses and I became the evening entertainment. I didn’t have the presence of mind for a picture…too bad…it would have been a good shot. The mud was so slick I could barely stand up let alone hoist the bike…but somehow I wrestled the bike back upright. I continued on for several more miles until the tiny town of San Luis came into view. Holeluhyah….I just hope this 2 horse town has a hotel…and lucky for me it did.

It even had secure parking…if not a toilet seat.

I grabbed “dinner” from the local bodega…bag of chips, warm yogurt(might have to use that toilet after all), crackers and juice. It ain’t Tavern on the Green, but after a day like today it’s 5 star dining.