Day 2 of Hiking in Colombia: High Passes and Heavy Breathing
Our second day of hiking in Colombia – specifically in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy – took us from our hostel – Cabana Sisuma, up and over two high passes.
There was a lot of heavy breathing happening on my part for most of the five to six hours it took me to hike to our campsite at the edge of Laguna de la Plaza, the largest lake on the six day trek.
In fact on the way up to both passes I would mentally count out ten steps at a time and on the 50th step I would sit for another count of ten. I think by day three I had acclimatized and the breathing wasn’t so much of an issue.
Heavy breathing was definitely not an issue for the little guy, Giovanni, pictured below. I can only imagine how much energy he would have at sea level. His mom looked after the hostel and cooked the delicious meals over the time we were there.
Giovanni – the cute kid at the hostel – who had boundless energy at 12000′
We hiked the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy in a counterclockwise direction beginning in Guican. Our guide Rodrigo explained to us that he preferred going in this direction for two main reasons: the sun is at your back and not in your eyes, a huge plus in my mind and on the last day it’s easy to get back to Guican by early afternoon in order to catch a bus or private transportation onto where ever your next destination happens to be.
We did meet several parties hiking the circuit in a clockwise direction. The first two guys we met were a couple of Canadians at the top of the first pass. They had not had a good week. On three mornings they had awoken to snow, they never got the views except for the day we met them and on one day they got severely lost – to the tune of having to add three hours of extra hiking time to their day. They did say their GPS had led them astray – hence the reason for always taking a compass and a map with you as a back-up.
At least their experience is better than one Rodrigo told us about. Apparently a group of four Colombian students got lost for 45 days a few years ago – despite a massive search party for them. Somehow three survived.
On a cheerier note here’s a look at the fabulous scenery that greeted us on the second day of our Colombia hike.
Scenery at the start of the trek on Day 2
Very lush vegetation at the start (elevation is about 11,000′)
Beautiful mountain reflection
Small ponds and lakes on the way to the first pass
Porters hiking the ridge
On our way up to the first pass ( and it tuns out the pass is much higher & further than it appears here)
Love this blast of colour spilling from the rock
Looks more like coral than a flower
Sign at the first pass of the hike – at 4410 meters (14,469 feet)
Looking down from the first pass into a fog filled valley
Very hardy alpine plants
The bottom of the first pass
No where to go but up
Me at the top of the Patio Bolas Pass – our second pass of the day at 4350 meters (13,850′)
Huge fog that eventually makes its way to us – and engulfs us
Rodrigo our guide heading off in the fog
Hiking through frailejones – very cool vegetation
Me – finally at the Laguna de la Plaza – the largest lake on the trek – & if I look like I’m winded it’s because I am
A foggy view out of our tent within minutes of arriving
Soup and crackers delivered to our tent
Does this look like a hike you’d be interested in doing?
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