I have been back on Canadian soil for the better part of a week. It always feels nice to come home after an adventure. To throw that back pack down on the floor and curl up in my bed. However, this time curling up in that bed felt even better because I had just finished hiking roughly 100km in the Andes.
Rewind a couple of weeks…
My boyfriend and I stood outside in the cold hours of the morning, with our packs on and hiking boots tied waiting to be picked up for the trek of our lives. Around 3am, the van pulled up; tired eyed we jumped in. We were simultaneously exhausted, excited and eager for the journey that lied ahead. After about a two hour drive and gobbling down a protein bar it was time to start hiking.
The beginning of the trail was steep, all uphill and the altitude definitely weighed you down as you tried to get a full breath. We were already surrounded my mountains, I practically had to pinch myself it was so stunning. Despite the physical exertion and limited oxygen we were all in awe of the view. We hiked for a number of hours that day, our group of 10 getting to know each other and arrived at basecamp just before lunch.
Basecamp on the first night was absolutely incredible. We stayed in glass domes that were tucked in the valley of the mountains. After lunch there was an optional hike to Humantay Lake – which we all jumped on! The hike was intense, extremely challenging and forced you to focus on your breath. I was very grateful for all of my vocal training from Acting school in that moment. The optional hike was straight up the mountain but so worth it! Upon arrival at the lake, you immediately forgot about the struggle you just experienced for the past 90 minutes. The sun glistened over the turquoise water before slowly setting behind the mountain. It was beautiful. It also felt amazing to sit down for a few minutes (haha!).
After arriving back at basecamp from the lake we were all tired and hungry. We had a quick snack and got ready for supper. This is when everything switched for me in a split second. All of a sudden I felt so ill. My evening went downhill fast as I became dizzy, had a piercing headache, and loss of appetite. I thought – oh no, here we go: altitude sickness. Bingo. It hit me like a ton of bricks and next thing you know I was vomiting. I couldn’t sleep because I was so nauseous, sitting on the side of the bed, wrapped in sleeping bags. We were very high and as soon as the sun went down the temperature dropped quickly. I was stressed about being able to continue but I’m a very stubborn person so I wasn’t going to give up. I must say my bf was absolutely amazing that night and took the best care of me.
Eventually, I laid down and looked at the stars through our glass dome. They were incredible; unlike anything I had ever seen before. With zero light pollution, the sky was filled with millions of them. They were literally twinkling. And as our guide had mentioned, when you’re up in the mountains you can actually see that the stars are blue. Despite being extremely sick – for a minute the stars took all of it away and I was in awe.
**Note: My blood oxygen levels were checked and while they weren’t good, they weren’t horrible. It was deemed safe for me to stay there for the night.