Siberia to Lone Star…. part #1

WordPress woes … unfortunately, for reasons unknown at the moment we’re unable to publish this post as one so we’ve broken this post into two parts… Sorry!!!

On January 7th we headed out of Del Norte where things pretty much looked like this…….


…. and on the 9th we arrived in Terlingua,  Texas where things definitely looked like this.


Terlingua, Texas is a small town right outside of and in between Big Bend National Park* and Big Bend Ranch State Park**.   It’s relatively warm and sunny and a definite ground zero for outside adventure in the Souhwest come this time of year.  Considered a ghost town,  formally a mining town***,  it’s now the home of artists,  musicians,  cyclists,  hikers, river rats and the likes.   These off-the-grid,  Lone Star drinking folks,  appear to come here to live simply…. Pardon a misguided notion,  but it’s definitely not what most of us envision the big state Texas to be about,  so it’s a welcome discovery.

We pulled into town at dusk:30 and met up with our friend Tom Purvis who was visiting the area from Salida.   Tom introduced us to our new home…. an empty lot,  short of a couple of dead school buses,  which is where we were to base out of during our time here.  Since we drug our little home /trailer here,  all we needed was a parking place.   Sweet. 


We unhooked PUK (the name of our trailer), got on our bikes and rode part of the “miracle mile”  trail up to this place.


The Starlight is the local hot spot of Terlingua complete with $2.00 margaritas between 5:00 and 6:00 PM any night of the week and 2 for 1 burgers on Monday evenings. The food is decent,  however most impressively they dish up some seriously good,  local, live music both inside and out on the front porch.  I’m not a fan of Bluegrass mind you,  but you have to be almost dead to not know that these guys are damn hot musicians.   Anyway,  that evening was Tom’s 50th birthday which he neglected to inform us until much later … Happy Birthday,  Tom,  you rascal!!!!


Tom was leaving in a couple of days, so to maximize our time with him we accompanied him into the National Park and did a sweet little 5 mile trail,  Lost Mine, in the Chisos Mountains.  Nice grade,  well traveled and scenic,  this hike got us up into some nice vegetation and trees,  something one usually doesn’t think of when you’re in this part of the Chihuahuan desert such as we were. 



What better way to meet the locals and get the scoop? The Trail Alliance was having a trail building weekend in the State Park,  so not even 24 hours after arriving we head out to camp with the locals to stage ourselves for the next day. It was during this event that we met a large faction,  30 or so, of the local enthusiasts.   Sweet, again,  things are looking up.  


Meet Reilly and Kimberly,  trail builders extraordinaire.   We met these two good folks and their friend Alex (not pictured) unexpectedly while in Peru.   Fellow Coloradoans,  from Salida,  it was they who told us about this area and that they’ve been wintering down here for several years.  Not to miss a beat,  we tucked away that choice “get out of dodge” info knowing that we’d be pulling it out when we had our fill of our siberian digs in Del Norte. Thanks you guys…for everything.   YOU ROCK!!!


It was also during this weekend that we came to respect Lone Star,  the national beer of Texas and those who partake in it.   Meet Mike,  father,  husband,  trail builder,  he works in the National Park,  all around nice guy,  drinker of Lone Star.  Even though this beer goes down like a bottomless pitcher of ice tea don’t let it fool you as it sports a 4.65 alcohol content with 136 calories per 12 ounce can.   Watch your step with this puppy.  Accruing this valuable info plus lots of local stats on trails and such,  completing a 4 mile trail and meeting the locals proved this to be a great weekend.

For more on Big Bend and Terlingua area see part #2


Reckoning inevitable

It’s 5:30 AM and you’re in the outhouse, it’s 10 below zero and all you’re wearing is a down coat and some slippers.  Something serious is going down here…. and it’s called winter.   The dirt is gone and unexpectedly one has to dig deep to recon what has commenced to happen, after all, it was 65 degrees just last week.  The bikes sit frozen in their tracks atop the pickup.  The potential for attitudinal free-fall is on red alert!!

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Looking out the window it becomes apparent that we are the ones in the driver’s seat here and to avoid a crash an attitudinal correction is in short order.  Yeah, OK, we can do that… done it plenty of times before.   So, here it goes…..

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Let’s get real here…. we live in a stunningly beautiful place amongst good friends, in a cozy cabin that is simply, just saying,  what warm fuzzies are all about.

looking NOrtheast to the Sangre de Cristo snow covered range of 14,000 foot peaks.
Looking Northeast to the Sangre de Cristo snow-covered range of 14,000 foot peaks.

On a ranch that offers a seemingly endless play ground and wildlife refuge.

Looking North and West to the LaGarita's
Looking North and West to the La Garita’s

And a river that is dynamically changing and will soon provide skiing and ice skating potential.

NOrth fork of the Rio Grande.
South fork of the Rio Grande.

With an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods…. kind of entrance bridge.

Bridge over the North fork of the Rio Grande.  The main entance to the Off Island Ranch.
Bridge over the South fork of the Rio Grande and the main entrance to the Off Island Ranch.  We’re grateful for the large braces that prevent any potential slippage into said river 🙂

Getting right to the core of it….. our day revolves around getting out there to play.  It’s what energizes us, it’s what drives us, it’s what makes us grateful for this magical place in which we live, it’s where our minds are free to expand and dream and create.  So…. our answer to a potential emotional meltdown and attitudinal winter train wreck  is to GET OUT THERE AND PLAY!!  And here’s what that looks like……

From the top of San Franciso Creek about 1000 feet above the town of Del Norte getting close to the San Juan Mountain range.
On San Francisco Hi Road, heading South of Del Norte to the San Juan Mountain range. The mountains in the background are the Sangre de Cristos.
A relatively small bevy of skis are parked outside the cabin.
A relatively small bevy of skis are parked outside the cabin.
Gary kickedin a sweet 2 1/2 hour track throughout the ranch.
Gary kicked in a sweet 2 1/2 hour track throughout the ranch.

Patti’s Pick:  Ski-Run-Ski.  My favorite thing to do is to ski out along this track to where a ranch truck has packed down the snow, change into my running shoes and run the distance  and back to my skis and ski home….. sweet, eh??  This is followed, at times, by a bike ride into town to take care of, well, whatever.

Running on packed down tracks.
Running on packed down tracks.
beyond this is where I turn around to head back to the skis.
Beyond this is a bridge where I turn around to head back to the skis.
Thick hoar rost is everywhere and at times it feels like your skiing or hiking on a polar bears back :-)
Thick hoar frost is everywhere and at times it feels like you’re skiing or hiking on  the back of a polar bear 🙂

Of course, there really is a life outside  the inner sanction of the ranch, one complete with friends and one where the public lands offers unlimited potential.   We have ventured out a little such as to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument last weekend.  It kind of rocked, and kinda looked like this….

Shawna Marie Off, up to her old tricks ::=)
Front to back: Sue Kommerick, Kevin Off and Shawna Off
Shawna Marie Off, up to her old tricks!!  Yeah!!!
Shawna Marie Off, up to her old tricks!! Yeah!!!
Kevin Off, skiing into the sun
Kevin Off, skiing into the sun
There were huge variations of snow and sand.
There were huge variations of snow and sand, almost all skiable.

Don’t worry folks, we haven’t gone off the Pollyanna high dive here ….. we’re generally good with winter in the San Luis Valley until January after all the holiday parties have been attended, all the over eating has been accomplished and all the “newness”of winter and it’s beauty has worn a hole.   But , this year is distinctly different in large part because we’re not working and our lives are more than ever of our own design…. so who’s to blame????, You got it, absolutely no one.  Have no fear, come January these fledgling snowbirds will be bugging outta here and heading south where our souls can thrive in warm sun, clear skis, flowers, vegetation and last, but not least, dirt.  And, OK, granted, we’re only in week two of this winter season, but come on, we CAN rise to the occasion because, at the end of the day, at this moment  “IT’S  ALL GOOD”, it’s all very good.

Looking South from the cabin into the San Juan Mountains/
Looking South from the cabin at sunset.

Gary’s perspective-

Winter came early and harsh to the San Luis Valley this year. We’ve had an inversion since the last storm, around Thanksgiving, with lows well below zero and highs in the teens most days. Denver, one day, had a high in the sixties and we were around 20 degrees, for the high.  Normally we’d find this a bit depressing but since we aren’t planning to be here the “whole” winter we’re fine with it.

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It turns out that XC skiing aggrevates my shoulder so I’m hiking , snow shoeing and riding. Everything  is from the front door of our cabin. Because of the cold and the lack of wind the 2-tracks are in as good of condition as I’ve seen. Hunting season is still on for women and children, this means the local jeep roads are getting a bit of traffic so the snow is packed well and with the cold there’s virtually no ice or mud.

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As soon as the winds start these ruts will fill with wind blown snow and will be virtually unrideable, even a fatbike would flounder.

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All this is within an hour’s ride from home.

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The bikes are back in ‘trail mode’. Mine has Arch EX rims set up tubeless,  2.2 Saguaro on the rear and a 2.4 Ardent EXO up front, Magura Marta SL brakes, 180/160 rotors. The Fox F29 Fit 100mm fork is installed with the motivation to give my shoulder some kindness. Dinglespeed gearing- 32/20 and 35/17. Patti’s has her  Rythm wheels and tubeless Saguaro (rear) and Ignitor (front). Otherwise, no changes. Before we left on our big trip she gave me firm instructions to not mess with her bike. She likes it just the way it is, so heavier wheels were the only changes I made.

I ran across this quote and thought I’d pass it along-

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

.. Terry Pratchett, “A Hat Full of Sky”

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Yup…..  You guessed it…

Over the past 48 hours of non stop traveling a ridiculous amount of time,  talk and thought has gone into where that money is.   I really could have cared less about the money but playing the “Unsolved Mystery” game was a way to pass the endless time.  

Who has greater faith….  It seems to be Gary.

When we arrived at Dallas’ house in Albuquerque yesterday we took EVERYTHING out of our bags and laid it out,  side  by side, in his backyard to take inventory of what we’ll take home and what we’ll keep for the next few months.   Obsessively,  I took this opportunity to look in every nook,  cranny and pocket.   No luck.   I determined the money would never show up and liked the thought that someone stole it relinquishing me from any chance of early onset dementia.  Gary,  on the other hand insisted it would show up.   How,  where and when would this happen?   I smiled at his power of denial.


In one,  last,  feeble,  passive attempt I slid my hand into a secret pocket in Gary’s new pannier…  Bingo!!!

I laugh at the thought that this little exercise may just represent deeper personality traits.

We’re back from Peru….  Gary’s happy and I’m tired.

Much love!!   As always…

The universe answers…

You know the saying… “you get what you put out there?”…

Gary and I stashed some money before leaving Huaraz.   We agreed on a place,  made sure that we both acknowledged said place by checking in with each other.   The mistake we made is that we both agreed that there was a good chance that we wouldn’t remember said place…  I mean…  we put some serious,  conscious effort into this. And guess what??  Yup.   We’ve searched everywhere and can’t find it.   Just another reminder of the amazing power of intention.   Careful what you think because we have an amazing ability to make it happen 🙂

The inbetweens….. and random stuff

We’ve shared with you a lot of our adventures,  but as with life it’s often those spaces inbetween that offer the base of support,  kind of like chinking.

At the moment we’re on a bus from Cusco to Lima… all 22 hours of it.   Keep in mind that it’s a first class bus as many of the buses that cover long distances are here.   That means  continuous movies,  seats that lay darn near flat,  meals served as if you are on a cross Atlantic flight, decent wifi and a stewardess dressed to kill.   All this for 155 soles… that’s US  $55.44.  Everything is a bargain here.


Speaking of bargains….  I’ve had a bad ass toothache lately so we’ve been navigating through the dental world here in Cusco. I’m unfortunately no stranger to root canals and know the signs well.  When at the dentist,  with whom we were very impressed, we talked of options one of which was a root canal.   Quanto questa???  I almost laughed.   150 soles…  Thats $54 US dollars. That’s insane!!   It was hard to pass up a bargain,  but we opted to go the route of antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory which seems to have done the trick at least until we get home where we can expect to pay around $1000.   Can’t wait.

While we’re on the subject of bargains… get this.  We made reference to the wild and crazy Czech guys down in Colca Canyon,  right?   They won Gary’s heart by dragging out a 2 liter water bottle full of crystal clear, 70 proof alcohol with a hint of anise flavoring.   They told us that they had a big climb the next day and they needed help lightening their packs,  so “lightnik”  Gary was more than happy to help them out.   They told us about the “alcohol”  store in Arequipa where they siphon this stuff out of 55 gallon drums for 6 soles a liter or US $2.16.  When we got back to Arequipa don’t ya know where Gary headed 🙂  uh huh.


What else?   Lots of things,  but as of today Gary is the winner of the hand knitted socks #2.   I’m getting better as these classy numbers only took me about 60 tedious hours.   My brothers,  both of them from the big footed clan, get the next two pairs,  but with their size 13 feet, well, it won’t be any time soon.


And in the time it took us to knit socks,  drink moonshine, pass up a cheap root canal and watch stupid movies on a bus….  The good Inkans up at Machu Picchu moved and shaped hundreds of thousands of stone in the building of Machu Picchu.   They started it around 1450 and it’s believed that they inhabited the site for no more than 100 years.  It’s a fascinating place that the Spanish,  during the invasion,  apparently never found out about therefore it’s fairly intact.   The country in which it sits is some of the most vertical and severe we’ve ever seen.   The river that runs below,  the Urubamba, is as severe as the rest of this gorgeous country.   Kent Ford,  this question goes out to you ???   Honestly,  has anyone has ever kyaked all of this river?   Seems it would just eat a person up.


These pillars of mountains were everywhere


As you can see,  the rain shrouded this day.



The terracing hugs the vertical landscape.



Masters at stone work –  the finer the stonework the more important the building for religious and research purposes.   The inhabitants were thought to be the best and the brightest of the land suggesting Machu Picchu to somewhat of a think tank of knowledge. 


River of mud after an all night heavy rain.

We took a hair raising bus ride into Aguas Calientes,  the village below Machu Picchu that houses the masses of daily tourists.   After an all night rain we opted to take the train back which proved to forge through spectacular country as well as being entertaining.


This guy danced throughout the train….


… Pulling in tourists to dance with…

We spent the night in the very cool village of Ollataytambo   kind of like Santa Fe gone Peruvian.   We walked into a hostal only to find friends from Huaraz there… Cool enough,  right?   Talk about synchronicity…  There we also ran into Kimberly,  Reilly and Alex from Salida who were just a few days into their Peruvian adventure on  bikes.  Crazy huh??  


At a panaderia,  Gary doing what Gary does which is to coach on routes…  They’re heading to Colca Canyon…  Lucky ducks!!!  We’ll,  hopefully,  be meeting up with them this winter in Big Bend.

That’s it…  We’re about 4 hours from Lima… So we’ll sign off for now.

See you all much sooner rather than later 🙂

Much love,  Patti and Gary

Dear family and friends… Gary

If I had to pick the one thing that I’ve learned from our  travels over the last five months  is how incredibly lucky we are to live in the USA,  particularly in the southwest with all of the amazing public land available.


                               Saguache Park in So. CO  


                      Sunset in So. AZ,  Black Canyon Trail


                                On the GDMBR in NM.


                    San Antonio Mountain,  southern CO.

I no longer have a desire to travel 6-7 additional months in a foreign country.

Someone,  Cindy Villa I think,  gave us a magazine article called “Caring for your introvert”.*  When I read it I thought, wow,  I am not alone,  or weird,  there are others out there like me. I shouldn’t feel guilty or need to apologize because I have no desire to willingly be in a crowded,  noisy environment.


                                  Cabazon Peak,  NM

I do know that I like quiet, I like calm, I like organization,  I
like efficiency,  I like solitude,  I like peaceful,  I appreciate
clean and neat. I dislike crowds.  

The populated areas of Peru,  and the other 3rd world countries I’ve been in,  don’t fit into the paragraph above and they really can’t be avoided …   I have enjoyed Peru, the experiences I’ve had here the last 6 weeks will always be treasured.  Most people agree however, that traveling here is hard.  I can do hard,  in fact most things I’ve ever done that are worthwhile have been hard.  I have come to the conclusion, that for me , traveling  in 3rd world countries is not just hard,  the rewards don’t outweigh the efforts.  On top of that that I  seem to keep having health issues.  

You know how a song pops into your head and you can’t make it go away?  For weeks now I’ve been having mental images popping into my head of areas in the 4 corners states.  This is where I feel passion.  More often than not these images include mesas, canyons,  pinon/ juniper, scrub oak,  and ponderosa.  Always clean air,  solitude and quiet. Often times it’s New Mexico,  canyon country has been calling loudly too. Patti thinks it’s because it’s familiar to me.   I don’t really agree,  regardless, it doesn’t change my feelings.


                                  NM on the GDMBR


                                   CO on the GDMBR


                               AZ on the Coconino Trail

For the reasons above we’ve decided to head back to the US in early November. We aren’t ready to go home though,  we’ll continue to travel,  sometimes by bike, sometimes by foot.  Southern AZ and NM are in our sites,  Baja and Big Bend are possibilities.  We’re planning to go to the PNW for a new grand child in January as well.

The only thing certain at this point is that we fly in to Albuquerque.  I/we chose ABQ for family reasons.Patti would be happy to continue working our way south from here.  I feel really bad about asking her to leave.  It’s also frustrating for me knowing that friends and people I respect tremendously** love traveling here.  I now accept that I’m not one of them.


                              Waiting for the ride home….

Patti……  Although I would truly love to continue on through South America perhaps this is not the time.   Not having the same issues that Gary experiences here,  I admit,  the din can be overwhelming and I absolutely understand why he has come to this point and this decision at this time.  I truly appreciate the fact that he’s given it his best, much of it has been for my benefit.  Far more than wanting to continue through SA is my deep desire for Gary to be happy and like all good partners we have complementary strengths,  we travel well together…. Sure, I could continue on either solo or with friends we’ve made along the way,  but I would much rather be with a happy Gary in his happy places.  After all,  they’re my happy places as well.   So…  folks…  I’m totally good with this decision.   SA will always be here.   Besides….  he’s so very right,  we are blessed to have what we have at home….  and that includes all of you!!!!  

*Article on introverts;

**Friends that are now or have recently traveled here long term;

Harriet and Neil-
Sarah and Tom-

From Kim to Colca

It has been a while since our last confessional…  So here goes,  everything from meeting Kim in Lima to loving it in the “oasis” at the bottom of Colca Canyon….

We left Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca after being there for a month with mission accomplished which was to simply stop.   We stopped long enough for Gary to get a  nasty travelers stomach bug twice with a questionable 3rd one looming, a cold once and for me to spend a day in bed recovering from altitude sickness.   That said,  we also had some great adventures,  saw some amazing things, made some friends and met dozens of other inspiring folks doing inspiring things.   All said and done… with just knowing that our friend Kim Cellura, from Del Norte was going to be in Lima it seemed to be a good enough reason to wrap it up and head on down the road.   Granted,  the rainy season was on its way and if we had to go back to downtown Huaraz with all the crowds and noise… well,  let’s just say that it wasn’t going to break our hearts.. Yeah,  right,  so we go to Lima… not a nest of tranquility,  but seeing Kim was totally worth it.  


From left to right… Omar,  Kim,  Gary and Poppie

Before we get started on Colca we can’t resist adding just one more thing from the Cordillera Blanca before we bug out for good.   These photos are from one of the last bike rides we did in this area.   This particular one was Cass’s maiden voyage since his major back injury from rescuing his tent in a raging river about 2 months prior.   Our friend Ben joined us – he was just finishing up a peace Corp stint at the time.


This is the first course of a typical “menu” restaurant to be followed by a huge second course and a lemonade drink all for 5 soles or US $1.80.  It’s insanely cheap to live well in Peru.


Our chariots waiting for us outside the restaurant.


Gary doing what Gary does.


Patti doing what Patti does.  (both photos by Cass Gilbert)

Ok… That’s it… On to Colca Canyon..

After visiting it up with Kim and the guys in Lima we took an all night bus to Arequipa.   We can still stand by the fact that we don’t do well with cities… Arequipa is no exception with it’s crowded sidewalks,  super aggressive drivers,  noise,  pollution and way to many people crammed into one place.   The good points were that we liked our hostel,  there were no mad dogs roaming the streets,  no all night fiestas,  no bombs going off and we felt reassured with the hundreds of police hanging around many of them with machine guns, just in case… well just in case.   We did some tourist things that were cool then set a solid plan to head to Colca Canyon. Gary already filled you in on some facts of the canyon so I’ll just embellish it with pictures.   It really is a special place and probably our best week so far in Peru….  You’ll notice that this is “sin bikes”…  That’s
because we are currently “trekkers ” loving it and feeling
really strong.   Oh yeah… And it was also “sin enfermedad” without illness 🙂


The first town you come to in the canyon  is Chivay,  a town of about 6900 and the hub of activity for the valley..  Lonely Planet loves to call Peruvian villages “ramshackle”,  but we thought it to be rather charming.


Markets are the center of life everywhere,  right…?



All villages have their fashion statements and the Colca women have,  by far,  the most colorful and ornate of all we’ve seen so far.  Even out in the fields the women wear their sequined, satin and velvets skirts in amazingly intricate embroidery.   The hats above designate two different groups that originally occupied the canyon, the Cabanas and the Collaguas.   Originally they distinguished themselves by cranial deformations…but now they use hats… much better, don’t ya think?  Above are the two different styles as seen being sold in the markets… Side by side.


Gary…  Really enchanted by the alpaca…  Huge eyes and long eye lashes.  Totally cute.  This is Albert the alpaca, he’s one year old and very friendly. 



Some valley pictures as we head deeper into the canyon.   We spend the night in Yanque at yet another great,  little


Gary,  grooving on the town wide Internet system..  Really think del Norte needs an Internet system like this. 


Every morning the local women dance and sell their wares to the tourists…  It’s a very charming thing at 7:00 AM to walk over with coffee and see this going on.


A random early morning scene.






We continue walking west and the canyon just keeps getting deeper and deeper.   We end up spending the night in Madrigal which truly is “ramshackle” and have to wait around 3 hours for someone to open the municipal hotel… It was right next to the municipal police station that housed a particularly unpleasant (I’m itching to use a more graphic term) police officer.   The town was nothing,  but the next days hiked proved to be awesome.


We were too busy route finding to take the pictures which this day deserved.

We enter Cabanaconda,  another “ramshackle” town which is the jumping off point for the deepest part of the canyon.   We stayed at Pachamama Hostel which is run by two uber friendly and hip brothers who have their finger on the pulse of what trekkers need.  Great atmosphere,  amazing food including wood fired pizza and an awesome selection of music..  This place rocked!!!  We head down canyon and drop almost 4000 feet into a tropical sort of paradise.   We stay at Llahuar,  a  funky,  yet gorgeous hotel with hot springs and cave like rocky huts,  great food,  friendly hosts and super interesting guests including two wild and crazy Czech guys….  Love those Czech guys. 


The entrance of the hotel


Gabby…  We made dinner together.


Inside the kitchen….

The next day we hike upstream climbing almost 3000 feet only to loose 2000 of it dropping back down to the river to end at this crazy,  tropical oasis…Here are the digs.. $14.50 a night which includes breakfast.






Ok,  well,  someone has to enjoy it  🙂

The next day we climb 4000 feet out of the canyon and by this time we’re really able to lay down some serious climbing tracks and it does feel great!!!!

The Colca adventure comes to an end as we wait for a bus back to Arequipa where we make plans to go to Cusco for the next adventure…..  It was a very good week…


From Gary – the Colca trails,  in general,  are steeper than their American counterparts.  They are also usually in poor condition due to virtually no maintenance and pack animals.  We carried camping gear, never had an opportunity to use the tent, but did use the stove a few times.  You could spend several weeks doing assorted routes in this area.

We are both really enjoying hiking.  Our legs and feet have happily adapted to this new task. 

Even though Colca is billed as being twice as deep as the Grand Canyon,  in my mind,  it isn’t as grand as the Grand. No surprise there though. Still,  I think we both can say that this has been our favorite Peru adventure.

This morning we’re in Cusco and heading to Machu Picchu.

Still miss you…. Xo…  Patti and Gary

Canon Del Colca

Just a quick post to let everyone know what we’re up to.

Take a giant mixing bowl, throw in a giant dose of Copper Canyon, Camino de Santiago and the Grand Canyon, add a handful of the Annapurna Circuit and a double helping of altitude. Stir vigorously, strap on your trail runners and enjoy…

Six days ago (it’s Monday the 21st) we took a three hour bus ride from Arequipa to the little town of Chivay in Colka Canyon. We’ve walked most of the length of the canyon so far, we’ve had the whole gamut of surfaces from paved roads to scrambling up and down washed out and forgotten trails.

Colca claims to be the deepest canyon in the world, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, our map claims the canyon is 120 km long and 4160 meters deep (75 miles and 13,650′).

Tonight we’re in the bottom of the canyon (2100 meters, 6900′) in a little bungalow next to some hot springs. We descended 3940′ today to get here. We’ll climb back out the day after tomorrow on a different route, upstream from here.

This is our first post using only the iPhone, the photos are also taken with the phone. There has been virtually no wi-fi, I’ll upload this post at the first opportunity.


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Early Christmas

You know you have some special friends when they go way out  of their to willingly help you out.


Our very close friends Steve B. and Kim ( rallied for us. Steve gathered up some gear out of our storage armed only with my list and some vague instructions on where he might find them.  Then Kim, bless her heart, took on the task of packing our box all the way to Lima. Then she had to brave Lima traffic and get the package to the bus station to be shipped to Huarraz, which is no simple task.  The package arrived here Tuesday AM on an overnight bus.


In the box was a brand new set of Ortlieb Back Roller Plus rear panniers, a combo stuff sack/backpack, my lightweight shoes, bike shorts, a pump and the little keyboard for the Nexus.

Having items shipped from the US to Peru is, apparently, outrageously expensive, from others we’ve been told that it’s hardly worth it.  Plus, it takes forever .  When we learned that Kim was flying into Lima the gears started turning with thoughts of items we (I) wanted/needed. Actually about the only thing Patti got was some fancy sunscreen for her face. Inderectly, though, those big panniers (on my bike) will lighten her load. 🙂


                     The first days of sans hydration pack.

As we were riding along the coast of Spain in the heat and had been stuck on roads for days we both began to play with idea of losing the backpacks. Those who know us know we always wear packs (we try to keep them very light) and never give wearing one a second thought. But, we never do as many road miles as we were doing, especially with the heat and humidity. So, we put the backpacks on top of my rear rack for a few days, shortly thereafter we mailed them home- and spent too much money to do it. After that the small panniers that were perfectly adequate with packs on our backs became barely adequate.  Hence the motivation to use full size panniers.  Honestly though, I still have mixed feelings about it.  Having all my personal stuff,  ie; passport, money, etc., having the camera on the shoulder strap and all the electronic stuff isolated from the jarring of off road travel still has a lot of appeal.  A bit of water in the hydration bladder makes life simpler for me. There’s no denying,  though,  that for long road,  or even smoother dirt, not wearing a pack is nice. The new panniers seem to be about three times as big as the fronts I was using.  We ought to have room for anything we care to haul with nothing on top of the rack.

We’re going to give the little Nexus keyboard a try again.  I talked about it here-
At the last minute before leaving home we both decided it was extra weight we could do without so we left the keyboards.  We had one sent thinking it might make some tasks easier on the Nexus but there still seems to be a problem doing certain tasks.  Whether it’s worth hauling around the extra weight  is still up for debate.  We’re using the SwiftKey typing app on the tablets and it works really well.

The day pack /stuff sack (Dana Designs Kompressor) will normally stay in a pannier and will be used for grocery runs, day hikes and overflow from the panniers, things like a loaf of bread or chips and beer. – 🙂

In other news…We’ve been in Huaraz a month now. We’ve decided to head south to Arequipa and we’ll bus to Lima today (10/11) We hope to see Kim in Lima before going on to Arequipa. If any of you have specific advice on Arequipa let us know. We do have the Lonely Planet book.

We’re both healthy, finally!