Thursday, December 29, 2011

Moto Day 4: María Elena to Pan de Azucar

Yet. Another. Day. Of Desert. But I wasn't complaining. It was gorgeous desert, its palette full of variation, its landforms never the same from one bend in the road to the next (if there was a bend). I also loved the feeling of isolation, even though it was worrisome to imagine what would happen if the moto broke down. And today was the day that it did! My three great strokes of luck were: 1) that it chose to break down in an industrial park outside Antofagasta, right next to a roadwork company with a well-stocked toolshed and affable employees, rather than in the hundreds of kilometers of completely barren desert to the north or south; 2) that it was just the chain that fell off; and 3) that I learned in Cusco how to tighten the chain. So the fix took about 15 minutes, five of which were devoted to washing the grease off my hands in the roadwork company's civilized office bathroom. A kindly roadwork administrator even handed me paper towels to dry them.

There are others who also enjoy the isolation of the desert: astronomers. Hilltop observatories like this one pepper northern Chile.
After fixing the moto I turned onto an alternate route with even less traffic than the 5--hard to do. This road angled toward the coast. At a certain point it plunged down into a sudden defile that opened in the desert floor. This valley wound down and down and down; I hadn't realized the desert floor was at such high elevation (around 4,000'). That's why last night had been so chilly! This valley was also chilly: air that felt like A/C blasted up it, accompanied by fog from the ocean. This fog sustained the first plant life I'd seen in two and a half days: cacti, mosses, and one lonely tree.
The road finally popped out at the top of a bluff and descened to a tiny fishing village on the narrow coastal plain (500 yards narrow). I rode south on the coast, passing through rich smells of salt and fish, particularly striking after the scentless desert.

Later I took another detour into the Pan de Azucar National Park. The road was listed on the map as being neither asphalt or dirt, but "stabilized with salt." This is what a road that's stabilized with salt looks like. It was great for motorcycling.
The landscape made me think of Old West outlaws. There were plenty of nooks and crannies to hide with loot.
Then it popped out on a gorgeous coast of rust-colored rock formations and a view across to the park's eponymous island. There was also a "cactarium" with representative examples of the park's main type of flora, and a whale spine.
I was just in time to set up camp and relax while the sun went down.

Moto Day 3: Arica to María Elena

Christmas morning in Arica was as quiet as the night before had been busy. Waking up at eight to a recently risen sun was disorienting; Chile's clocks were two hours ahead of Peru's. And not only was the Chilean time zone closer to Europe--it was everything. Home supply stores with treated lumber, nuclear families in sedans, men in shorts, two-ply restaurant napkins, receipts for everything... Throughout my time in Chile I was to be shocked and (let's be honest) delighted by its comfortable modernity.

The morning took me through deep desert canyons with snaking green lines of vegetation in the bottoms. It had been a mystery to me, looking at the map, why the road south of Arica made a big zig zag. Now I knew: it didn't bother with small-scale switchbacks, it just angled down for ten or twenty kilometers until the bottom, then turned and went back up the other side going the other way.
Today was a good day for variety of desert surfaces. Here we have the classic cracked mudpan look, always a classic.
...and here is a salt flat. I felt like I was walking around on antlers. At one point I broke off a chunk and the inside was pure solid white salt. Roadside geoglyphs.
I ate dinner at a tiny restaurant in María Elena which catered to long-haul truckers and the workers in the salt factory, the only industry in this one-horse town. The family who ran the place was very sweet to me, boosting my already high opinion of Chileans. The man was curious about my motorcycle ride and peppered me with questions like, Do your arms get tired in the wind? (They didn't. It was really just my butt that objected to the long hours in the saddle. I have way more sympathy for cowboys now.) After dinner I set out to look for a private spot in the desert to camp.

There's car camping, and then there's this:
Some parts of the Atacama haven't seen rain in thousands of years (it's the driest desert in the world), but not the part I was in. I felt raindrops in the evening and heard thunder in the distance, so I set up my tarp. Unnecessary, as it turned out, but it was a pretty cool setup. The great thing about tarps over tents is the way they necessitate invention. My night in the desert was cold, scentless, uncannily quiet, and cozy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Nerds Do When They Travel by Motorcycle

Right after crossing the border of Chile there was a sign: "Santiago 2081." A few kilometers later, another: "Santiago 2085." Can't catch a break in this long long country!

When I spied the kilometer post 1983 on an 11-km descent into a canyon, I started seeing the signs as years instead of kilometers. (1983 is my year, by the way, the boar.) And so I spent the long hours pondering what famous dates I could take photos of.
Chile's flag may be red, white, and blue, but this is just un-American!!
This may not be a particularly famous date, but it IS a beer.
Gotta give a nod to William the Conquerer.
...let's see, for 1945, 1918, and 1864 I wasn't yet on my historical nerding-out game; I spaced out at 1812; there was no 1607 or 1492; and apart from that I struggled to think of super-famous dates. It showed me my limitations. When was Mohammed born, for instance? That would have been a good one.

Fortunately there were other opportunities for nerdy motorcyclists. I drove up the road to one of the famous Chilean desert observatories and, although they wouldn't let me in the gate to look around, there was this awesome sign.
And finally, this may have been the most exciting sign I've seen yet! A nonpariel landmark.

Moto Day 2: Puno to Arica, Chile

I'm a huge aficionado of transitions between landscapes, so today was a great day. Starting at Lake Titicaca I ascended to the continental divide of the Andes, a stark, barren region of extreme cold. I had to stop and warm my frozen hands on the engine of the moto twice. After reaching a snow-covered landscape the altitude suddenly relented and I plunged down into the desert, reaching Mocegua in time for a Christmas Eve lunch of guinea pig (my first guinea pig, and probably also my last: it was not good). Another few hours through dramatic desert scenery brought me to the border of Chile. Crossing the border took a while, what with the Peruvian moto and American passport, but was easy enough. I arrived in Chile's first city, Arica, bustling with holiday activity, before nightfall.
Last gas before crossing the high passes.
This sulfurous geyser spewed out of a creek that then flowed through a natural bridge under the road. Andean birds that resemble gulls gathered around, presumably for the warmth.
Looks like the Sinks of Gandy!
I'd heard there were flamingos living in the Atacama near San Pedro, Chile, but I did not expect to see one at 15,000' on the cold, soggy altiplano. Lost, or perfectly at home?
So cold! Once again, I was Tintin in Tibet.
...and after a winding descent I felt like I was in Palestine. The arid landscape held oases of green in little valleys. Riding through these oases, the air blowing through my helmet was filled with rich, fragrant scents that made me think of the sensual language in "The Song of Songs."
Most of the landscape, however, looked like this.
Hooray! Country #4!

Moto Day 1: Cusco to Puno

I took no photos on the first day of my ride, mostly because of the shitty weather. The barren altiplano was astounding as always, and there were moments of sun accompanied by the beautiful feeling of being under way, but more often it spit and hailed on me. I had been hoping to get farther, but due to the weather I stopped in Puno, on the surreal high-altitude shores of Lake Titicaca. It was a very cold night. I slept with my wet socks, to dry them with my body heat.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Three Weeks of Tomorrows: My Motorcycle Diary

The fantastic thing about tomorrows is the supply we have of them. Take a peek into the tomorrow stockroom and you'll glimpse infinity. Most of the time, of course, we don't look for tomorrow--we wait for it to come to us, which it does, every day, regular as clockwork. Tomorrow, with its infinite supply and low demand, is one of the cheapest things around, a fact I've found to be particularly well recognized in Latin America. Here tomorrows are dropped like pennies on the street and left there for eternity, not worth bending down to pick up and make into today.

For someone who yearned to grasp a particular tomorrow, Cusco was a bad place to do it. That tomorrow was the day I would receive my motorcycle registration card and be cleared to make a break for Chile. That tomorrow ended up being yesterday (most of this post was written on the 23rd in Puno, in a hotel lobby during a noisy confrontation about a stolen bicycle, the red-handed thief locked inside with his accusers until the police arrived), but yesterday was tomorrow #20. Tomorrows #1-20 comprised an odyssey all their own, a journey within a journey, travels not through geography but rather through diverse states of mind and the wacky labyrinth of Peruvian bureaucracy.

Today (aka tomorrow #0): Having purchased the motorcycle, I went with the seller to a notary to formalize the sale and start the registration process. The notary was a short, brusque man in a double-breasted suit and hair that looked like a lid. He shook our hands and in about 15 seconds typed a two-page document that turned out to be a bill of sale. I was assured he would take care of all the details with the Public Registries office, and I could just kick back and relax. Come back in a week or so and everything would be ready, "without fail." Oh, and all measures would be taken to address the urgency of the matter. The professional reassurances matched the suit and hair.

Tomorrows #1-10: Rather than kick back and trust in "a week or so," I did a bit of independent investigating. A lady at the Public Registries office whose brusqueness rivaled the notary's told me that my card would take seven business days to be printed and sent to Cusco, including the day I submitted it. So, counting two weekends and one public holiday (December 8th: Day of the Immaculate Conception), I expected tomorrow #11 to be the big day. That was cutting it close, too. I'd made plans with my Czech friend Kristyna to hike the Colca Canyon starting on tomorrow #12. As the week of waiting drew on, though, I talked with several people who named different numbers of business days (ten was popular). These were Peruvians. Non-Peruvians who'd dealt with the country's workings all eschewed the language of business days in favor of a doom-and-gloom lexicon which included entries like "months" and "impossible." In light of my sleuthing I backed out of my hiking plan with Kristyna, which, without the registration in hand, would have involved a lot of going back and forth over long distances. Instead I geared up to distract myself for a few days with a solo hike closer to Cusco (see

Tomorrow #11: The high from my amazing hike vaporized upon my arrival back in Cusco. I walked to the notary's office with a sinking feeling, dreading a bureaucratic delay, knowing it would react badly, like a fifth-grade sodium volcano, with my traveller's impatience to get on the road. As I feared, visiting the notary was a bad start to a bad day. The first thing he said, before he finished shaking my hand, was, "No, it hasn't arrived. Why don't you come back next Thursday?" NEXT THURSDAY!? That was nine days away! Seeing the panic begin to rise up my face, he hurriedly added, "Here, take a look through these papers. Maybe it has arrived." So I leafed through a disorderly stack of forms with registration cards paperclipped to them. Although the names were fascinating (Quechua exotics like Rumiñahui and Quripuma mixed in with more standard Spanish fare), I was unable to appreciate them: my card was not there. Another stack? Again, no luck. The notary made me make two copies of my application form for no apparent reason and then said, "Why don't you go personally to the Public Registries office to request it?" A way to get me off his back, no more. But I went, and the DMV-like experience sent me over the edge. Even though the lady told me to come back in only two days, I despaired. I came out in a daze, this minor bureaucratic matter having expanded into every corner of my sense of myself. I felt like I'd lost my grasp on who I was. Wandering the streets, I stumbled into a funky little vegetarian restaurant and sat across from an old man. The way he ate his soup, dipping his spoon away from himself--the proper way to do it--gave me something to hold onto. It was hopeful and affirming, this minor gesture, to a degree out of all proportion to its mundanity. I started to feel better.

Tomorrow #13: No dice at the Public Registries, of course, but by this point I was over the hump of my anxiety. Frustration with this pointless wait remained, of course, but my negative reaction to the frustration had mostly unknotted itself.

Tomorrow #14: I volunteered at the yoga school up the hill, helping set up a zipline for the kids to enjoy. The people who ran and volunteered at this school were wonderful people. The kids were delighted with my motorcycle, which I drove out a slick, muddy road to the school. I enjoyed myself, but I was not yet resigned to wait forever. Today was the 10th business day--a day I'd once thought would be a likely candidate to be my desired tomorrow. I checked again, and again no dice. Somewhat agitated, I paid a visit to the guy who sold the bike to me (and was taking care of it in the meantime). I liked him and (mostly) trusted him. He told me to think positive thoughts for Monday. "If you visualize it there, it will be there! Don't worry, my friend. Actually, maybe you should go Tuesday. Tuesday would be better. And go to the notary, not to the Public Registries. It's his responsibility. In fact, I'll go with you if you like." Four more days in Cusco. It was like a sentence that kept being extended, despite my good behavior. And yet somehow the man's little speech actually calmed me down.

Tomorrow #18: We went to the notary. Under the motorcycle salesman's advice, I gave the notary "taxi fare," two dollars. This was how the workings could be greased to move a little quicker, I was given to understand. "Come back tomorrow, it will be here."

Tomorrow #19: Still no registration. Another $3.50 in "taxi fare," just for good measure. "Tomorrow, without fail, it will be here." I'd heard that phrase before, on the first day I'd visited the notary's office. Now, three times the length of time having passed that the "without fail" referred to in the first place, how was I to have any confidence in those words of assurance?

Tomorrow #20: And yet this time they were not empty words. The registration was ready! Although the weaselly notary still sent me across town to the office to collect it on my own, rendering the "taxi fare" even more of a farce than it had already been. The one final hiccup was noticing, on my cheerful walk back to the hostel, that the paper I'd been given along with my registration card said NOT AUTHORIZED FOR TRANSIT. What! I consulted the man who'd sold me the bike, and he managed to convince me (along with himself, I think) that the words only referred to the piece of paper they were written on; the card DID authorize me to transit. That was enough for me to go on--I would find out at the border!

My weeks of tomorrows were neither pleasant nor productive. They felt like nothing but a doldrums I had to pass through to catch the fair winds on the far side. But I have a sense I will look back on them fondly, not just for the good friends I met while in Cusco, volunteering at the odd little yoga school, all the veggie sandwiches at Prasada...but also for the rite of passage that they constituted. I'm not sure what I learned from this Kafka-esque waiting; the closest I can come is to relate a yoga exercise a friend recently told me about: the instructions are simply to shake your whole body, but the key is to do it for much longer than you want to.

Next, look forward to photos from the long ride southwards.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Walking Around Cusco

As I mentioned in the last post, Cusco is a beautiful place to walk around.
Doors everywhere are fantastic. Some of them look like they haven't been opened, except for the smaller door-within-a-door, for centuries.
The "cuestas," streets made of stairs, remind me of my favorite quote from "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" (referring to ancient Greece, not Cusco): "There were many steps and columns. It was most tranquil."
Speaking of ancientness, I've noticed in Cusco that it acts on hippies like catnip does on cats. There is a compulsion among the many hippies who gather here and stay for months or years to be near old sacred sites. And in some cases the Incan stuff--only ~600 years old--isn't ancient enough. My Russian yoga teacher Alec explained to me that the temples where he does ceremonies with the hallucinogenic cactus San Pedro were constructed 30,000 years ago. It is debated within the archaeological community whether there were even humans in South America that early. But of course Alec also told me that "under normal circumstances our DNA is only operating at six to seven percent," but certain yoga poses can increase this percentage. I think he just marches to the beat of his own drummer.

The colonial balconies and arcades around the Plaza de Armas are beautiful. I also admire the headgear of the National Police, which ranges from cowboy hats to pith helmets to little polo-style helmets.
The Municipal Police, on the other hand, are remarkable mainly for the flag of Cusco which they sport on their shoulders. I like imagining that they are the Gay Police, and will blow their whistles at you if they see you acting too hetero.
Sometimes the rich, dual architectural heritage of Cusco leads to some really shameful practices. Take this building, which juxtaposes pitiful imitations of colonial-era balconies with take-offs of Incan niches, doing neither any justice.
Here is the building's hideously schizophrenic main entrance. Cusco needs Architecture Police as well as Gay Police.
Sometimes, however, even the most homely corners have a certain quiet charm. I love these little ramshackle scenes.
And finally, I must share a photo of my favorite vegetarian hole in the wall, partly to prove that I'm not speaking metaphorically when I call it a hole in the wall. The sisters who run this place serve delicious falafel tacos, lentil hamburgers, chai, and fresh juices with an infectious bodhisattva-esque joy and calm. Sitting on the stools here I met some of the most interesting and engaging people I've talked to in Cusco, wanderers from the States, Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong, Germany, and of course other parts of Peru. I admire the mysterious ease with which little gems like this place conjure community out of nothing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cusco Stone

Cusco is a great city for stone. Basalt, limestone, quartzite, diorite, andesite, granite, and sandstone were used in construction by the Incas and the Spaniards. The bottom five or ten feet of most house walls are made of stone, with adobe on top. There is a church around every corner. And in the city center remain the Incas' masterpieces, walls of such beautiful solidity that the Spaniards could not think of destroying them, depite believing they could only be the work of devils. Dark, ruddy stones predominate throughout the city, making it appear lushly rustic. When it rains, the streets, polished by centuries of pedestrians, shine like dark jewel-beds and become deathly slick. At night every edifice seems to suck up the light from the street lamps and loom in proud, silhouetted mystery. It is an incredibly beautiful place to walk home from dinner.

Across from the famous twelve-angled stone on the narrow Hatunrimiyoq Street there is a watchman, 24-7. When I first came upon this famous spot I had no idea where I was, but I immediately noticed the amazing stone. As I goggled at it the watchman told me a joke: this stonework was by the Incas, but down the street I could find stonework by the incapaces (incapables), aka the Spaniards. So let's play a game in photos: Inca or incapaz? Ready set go.
This one is obvious, I suppose--that's the twelve-angled stone. On another visit to Hatunrimiyoq Street I encountered a man with a flipbook of photos who offered to take me to visit a thirteen- and a fourteen-angled stone. He spoke in the hushed tones of someone trying to sell drugs (also, incidentally, a common offer on the streets of Cusco), and I declined his services.Could you guess it? Incapaz, of course! I'm sure you're starting to get the hang of it now. This is another section of the wall on Hatunrimiyoq Street.Just because the incapaces didn't have the same stonelaying chops as the Incas doesn't mean they didn't make beautiful structures.
This one is a trick: on the left is the cheesy imitation-Inca concrete facade of a hotel, a dismaying and all-too-common custom around Cusco; on the right, who knows, but probably not old enough to be proper incapaz stonework.
I'm almost sure this is another proper Inca wall, made from a different stone and on a structure whose perfection was not as imperative as the Inca Roqa's palace on Hatunrumiyoq Street. I love this look of rustic exactitude.
This is a lovely example of incapaz stonework from a church near my hostel.
...and one final shot of the wall on Hatunrumiyoq Street. Incredible. How did they get that giant corner block up there? I swoon over this look of patternless perfection. Another thing the watchman told me about this wall is that it was built with a base of round stones "like billiard balls" just below ground level, so that it could survive earthquakes. Cool! I don't blame the Spaniards for refusing to believe that human hands could have constructed these walls. I myself, however, have more faith in human ingenuity. Mad props to the Incas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Journeying Through My Favorite Fictions

My Amazonian excursion was a Herzog-ian fiction become real. While languishing on riverboats I felt just like Klaus Kinski's increasingly mad conquistador from Aguirre: The Wrath of God.
...and as I steamed in the jungle camp of the electrification workers my mind took on a Fitzcarraldo-esque cast; his crazy dream was to bring opera to Iquitos, mine was to ascend the Urubamba River to the highlands. Both were fated to confront nearly insurmountable odds.
Once I did get to the highlands, Tintin became the fiction paralleling my travels. As the French philosopher Michel Serres said in reference to Tintin: "Who has traversed Shanghai, Tibet, Scotland, or the Near East without saying to himself: I recognize this landscape? The world mimics the memorable panels . . . life has begun to follow the spells of art." Now add Peru to that list. I was impressed by the accuracy of Hergé's depictions of architecture and dress in "Prisoners of the Sun." Cusco looks like this.
My relationship with llamas and alpacas has been more copasetic than poor Haddock's. He's really the guy to get the bone in the fish every time.
On my Ausangate trek I found myself repeatedly thinking of "Tintin in Tibet"'s taxing high-altitude trekking. When I needed motivation I imagined I too had a friend to search for in a snowy plane wreck.
Now, if only I could enter a Miyazaki stage in my journeys. That would be a dream.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ausangate: A Circumambulation Par Excellence

I wanted to escape Cusco and do a good hike in the mountains, alone. The area around the giant snow peak of Ausangate captured my imagination, but initially I thought it might be too much to handl on my own. Tours do it in ~6 days, with pack horses. But then I found the website of a couple who did the circuit in four days, and I was sold. I set out on my motorcycle with a compass, lots of food, and a new alpaca hat, scarf, and mittens. Sans guide, my routefinding consisted of keeping the giant glaciated mountain on my left until I got back to the beginning. This rule of thumb served me well; when presented with choices between trails or valleys to follow, I told myself, Hug the mountain! This way, I only had to backtrack once. I completed the 62 kilometers and four high passes in three days.
The hike had a lot of potential to be no fun at all, but it somehow managed to be amazing. It's now the rainy season here and rain there was. And snow. And freezing rain, wintry mix, hail, sleet, and everything in between, for 85% of the time I was out. Part of the reason I covered so much ground so quickly is that it's just more pleasant to hike while it's raining or snowing than to sit around getting wet and cold. And since the clouds spitting all this precipitation on me were constantly hiding all the views, there wasn't as much to stop and look at anyway. If the weather had been beautiful I'm sure I would have basked in the sun, gazing at the views, and taken a full four days to finish. Also, on the first afternoon I passed by a group of alpaca herders' huts below the first high pass and aroused the ire of some wolfish guard dogs, one of which bit me while I was trying to talk to an old woman who only spoke Quechua. (It didn't break the skin through two layers of pants and one of socks, but the bruise is florid.) Despite all this, it was a wonderful hike. I felt good, in touch with my vitality, thanks to good high-energy food planning and to these incredible mountains.
Within my cloud-and-precipitation-limited viewscape there was plenty of alpine majesty to keep me in awe. The bare slopes north of the massif quickly gave way to a variety of mountain landscapes. I moved through these zones up and down, over and over. First came series of wide, marshy valleys threaded-through with tarns and teeming with herds of alpaca. The alpaca sported little tasselish earrings; I was curious whether the color identified the alpaca's owner, but an old man who walked with me for a few minutes on the first day told me they were purely decorative, as were the tufts of wool left unsheared over the chest and hips. There were alpacas of every color and level of rasta-hood in these herds. They are incredible animals. No matter how many hundreds of them I saw in the three days, my admiration for their lithe grace and my amusement at their small, quizzical faces never diminished. Above the alpaca valleys tumbling mountain streams led up to higher, narrower valleys strewn with boulders and small hills. Sometimes there were lakes, one, two, or three in the same valley, of a variety of colors: turquoise, aquamarine, or even charcoal. Hanging over these lakes were glaciers whose torments could be heard in deep booming cracks from time to time. Even in these high valleys there were huts and alpaca corrals. I'm not certain whether people live at such high elevation year-round, but if they were only seasonal residents, this was the season. I saw faces shyly peeking out of the 4-foot-high doorways as I passed by. In the lower valleys people greeted me cheerfully as "amigo!" but these isolated mountain-dwellers were retiring and unresponsive to my greetings. However, there were a brother and sister, Wilfredo and Lisdiana, about 8 years old, who visited my campsite on the second night as they drove their herd of 386 alpacas up the valley. They were friendly.
Wilfredo tried to teach me to whistle loudly as he did to herd the alpacas, and he also warned me that the boulder beneath which I'd set up camp was not a good place--there was a devil who lived there, and I should move. To avoid packing everything back up, I showed him a pair of beans a woman had pressed into my hand in Cusco after selling me a scarf, telling me they were a male and female pair and were for my protection. Wilfredo was grudgingly convinced. The pair of beans worked, apparently, for when the Wilfredo and Lisdiana came to visit me the next morning I was still there, safe, sound, and warm, eating oatmeal and reading D.T. Suzuki's "Introduction to Zen Buddhism." Above these wild valleys rose the high passes in a variety of colorful talus, mud, and shale, with streams snaking down and humped ridges always trying to hide the best route. The trails I was following invariably disappeared and reappeared later on. I attempted to analyze alpaca habits versus those of human trekkers to read which trails would lead me beyond the pass, rather than to some isolated grazing ground. From the passes the shoulders of snow peaks loomed through the clouds on both sides, reminding me in their impassive, potent energy of Wordsworth's experience in "The Prelude" of Mont Blanc pursuing him across the lake in his rowboat. Climbing the passes, which were between 16,000 and 17,000 feet, required incredible stamina and breathing discipline. When simply coughing or clearing your throat leaves you out of breath for 4 or 5 inhales, breathing no longer feels like an involuntary function--it must be concentrated on constantly. I credit sheer beauty and inspiration from the landscape for propelling me over these passes in high spirits despite the challenge. And arriving at the top, with a whole new view opening up below (even if it was only a quarter-mile view), was an incredible experience each time. On the second day, climbing the second pass, I suddenly noticed that I could see my shadow on the snow, and immediately thought of sunburn and snowblindness. I paused to put on sunscreen and sunglasses, even though there was still a layer of clouds in front of the sun. But despite my efforts and the fact that the sun was only in evidence for less than an hour, I came away with a somewhat bad full-face sunburn and irritation of the eyes for the whole next day from mild snowblindness. The same lack of air that makes breathing so difficult makes the sun that much more of a threat. But! Simply two more things to file along with the dog bite as minor unpleasant bits of an inspiring adventure.

These four photos are small due to technical difficulties, but you can find them and 66 more photos of the hike at: