“It’s a little foggy out there,” someone commented over the clink of silverware and the munching and slurping of breakfast juices and cereals.
For me, strawberry yogurt with a sprinkle of crunchy, nutty quinoa. Muña tea, no sugar. One egg, scrambled with cheese, hold the tomatoes. And a glass of passionfruit juice, filled all the way to the brim.
“Don’t worry, it’ll burn off,” said someone else, taking a swig of their coffee.
“No, no, no, rain is in the forecast. Not too much, but wear your rain gear,” instructed Pepe, as he wiped his lips with a perfectly square napkin and pushed his chair away from the table.
Outside, it was a little bit more than a little bit foggy. It was a deep, thick, engulfing mist, that swaddled the mountains and kissed the valley floor.
And it was humid. Wet actually. Water particles clung to hair, to lips, to cheeks and penetrated coats, hats, gloves, and shoes. Yet, the water that clung to the atmosphere was so full of air, that it felt as if we were receiving kisses from the clouds.
Our destination was Humantay Lake, located just two miles and 1150 vertical feet above the Salkantay Lodge. It would be an easy day, with some vertical that opened up to a turquoise lake fed by the glacial waters of Humantay. We’d spend a few hours relaxing by the jewel-toned lake, perhaps enjoying a dip or two in its chilly waters before heading back to the lodge to enjoy the views from the “yacuzzi”.
Alas, the weather had other plans. The higher we trekked, the wetter the conditions. Mist turned to rain, which turned to sleet, which turned back into rain.
A piercing, cutting rain.
No longer intimate brushes with Mother Earth, rather sharp, icy stings biting your skin.
“Head for the lodge!” shouted Pepe at the top of the climb, fighting to be heard over the blowing wind and rain.
We turned back towards the lodge, craning our necks in hopes of a glimpse of Humantay Lake in all its turquoise glory.
As we descended, the rivers began to fill, gurgling as they began their long descent back to the valley floor. Boots squelched and squished their way through the mud; rinsing again each time the creeks crossed the muddy, brown path.
Our arrival at the valley floor queued the rain to stop and the blanketing mist to return. We were soaked to the bone.
I removed my boots, stripped off layers upon layers of wet pants, shirts, socks, and jackets.
As I entered the warm, fire-lit lodge, I took one last look over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of Salkantay casting a wink in my direction before disappearing again behind its curtain of clouds.