Trek to Heaven (and Hell)

Day 5: Tilcara Trek, Argentina

Morning: We wake up and make oatmeal. (water) We unfortunately get off track of the GPS and have to backtrack about 60 minutes up a mountain through wild brush. We used our best logic to decide that our trail would meet up in the Valley with the GPS trail by the looks of the points. Wrong. (more water) Now my boyfriend Dan and I are backpacking unguided, with bright eyed bushy heavy packs, five days walk from any roads, with a dwindling water supply. Diary

Afternoon: We get lost again because the GPS points changed within two years of use. Now instead of following DOWN the valley to San Lucas we are supposed to hike up and around. AKA for us that means backtracking UP UP UP the giant mountain we had just gone down, plus another mountain and then down to the valley. We knew for sure this was correct because we were on a woman’s land and she was very adament about sending us UP to San Lucas.

By then we only had three inches of water left (bc we thought we were going to get water in San Lucas, in the Valley, about 3 hours ago.)

This is where I freak out. We begin the second backtrack ascent of the day and move very slow. Now we are no longer using our trusty GPS points but just our good old sense of direction. We take breaks in the shade because I remember that story of the two people who got lost hiking the grand canyon and the one person who over-worked herself in the sun without water DIED and the other one who crawled in a cave and waited until morning survived. SO we move slow and into as much shade as possible.

We took a sip of water each every hour. Diary

I start looking at mud and licking my dry lips.

Dan pees and I actually think about it.

Dan starts squeezing moss to see what he can get.

Here’s where I start flipping out and dropping everything from my pack.

Me yelling at Dan:
” I don’t give a f#ck about our sh#t! It’s just sh#t! This is our f#cking health, our lives! I’m not dying on this mountain!”
Dan: “Well I don’t plan on it either”
Me: “Then why aren’t you dropping weight!?”
I drop my other book (a rare Gabriel Garcia Marquez book, in ENGLISH) both our small camping chairs, and one of our guitars and leave it on the side of the mountain.
He didn’t.
We walk 100 feet to another ascent.
“This is f#cking bullsh#t! We are carrying big ass backpacks up a mountain with no water in the sun.”
I hand Dan all of our followthesong business cards and he throws them off the mountain. I drop our face wash, face lotion, soap, and our otter box for our ipad. Every ounce counts when every drop of sweat you lose is painful.

“Dear God please keep us safe. Dear God please help us find water and be safe. Dear God please keep us safe”

“Om nah mo guru dev namo” Repeat in time with each step.

Night: Around 4pm we begin to descend and I cry with relief, silently. 5′o clock we find water under a rock near the trees. Dan filters it and we take our last sip of our own water then chug two liters of water that tastes pleasantly like wet earth. Diary

We walk silently another half hour and come to a flat place near a stream. We camp.

“Dear God thank you.” Repeat

(I’m not sure if I actually thought I was going to die, but I definitely thought “I could potentially die, but like HELL am I going to let that happen!” Crazy how powerful you become in survivor mode.)

C Nicely

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