Writings by Deia Schlosberg
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Writings by Gregg Treinish
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Strange Sounds At Dusk
By Gregg Treinish

September 8, 2006


We have been working towards Peru for almost two and a half months now. We are ohh so close, but it seems that the closer we get the more obstacles stand in our way. I am extremely proud to say that we have currently reached the last major city in Ecuador, Loja, and assure all of you that it was no easy task to get here. In the last few weeks it seems like we have gone through such a wide varitety of events and emotions that it would be enough to fill an entire thru hike; I will save the book for after the hike.

This section began in the famed Cajas National Park. I know that I have written on several occasions of the beauty that we have discovered here in Ecuador. Cajas is different, Cajas is even more outrageous. The park is small 28km long or so, and holds over 300 high mountain lakes. The peaks against which these lakes are set are comprised more of jagged rock faces (perfect climbing by the way) than of mountain. Looking out over a valley, seeing half a dozen perfectly tranquillo lakes, in the middle of nowhere, created an exceptional feeling of being attached to something far bigger than just our individual selves.

As our time in Cajas was over far too soon, we continued south. Though the scenery wasn't as rugged, the cliffs not as steep or the lakes as plentiful, the untouched valleys, the immensity of green mountains, and the first time since arriving in Ecuador that cultivatable land hasn't been used and changed from its original glory for farming, we were both drawn to tears as we descended into a perfectly virgin valley of trees. It was across this valley that we would both experience one of the strangest and most exciting experiences of our lives. Having hiked around 5 miles south of Cajas, we found the first flat spot to camp in the rising valley. We camped on the true right hand or East side of the valley. Five minutes after sunset, at 6:50 pm, we realized we were not alone. I never have believed in aliens visiting our planet, I have never ever thought it was possible. I am not saying that this is what happened, but what I will say is that for twenty minutes we were circled by something. A noise that was definitely an engine (very high pitched) rose and arched clockwise from four distinct spots in the sky. We measured with the compass and each launching/landing point was exactly 90 degrees from the one before. Three times the noise crossed directly overhead causing both of us to duck. We saw nothing, felt nothing, and were both immediately aware that there is nothing currently known to man that can move invisibly or as fast as this was moving. The noises returned 15 minutes before sunrise and lasted until the sun came up. By the way Cajas is famous for UFO sightings.

Unable to sleep and utterly freaked out, we continued south across equally unblemished high paramo eventually arriving in the small town of Santa Isabel. Immediately we went to the internet café where we planned on listening to the recordings of the strange sounds. My camera card broke and all nine recordings of the sounds were lost along with about 45 photos of the valley and the next several days of hiking. We are working with data recovery firms to fix the recordings, so far no luck.

After returning to Cuenca to replace the broken card and to visit once more with trail-friend, Coyote, we continued south dreading the 7000 ft climb that was ahead of us.  The hike up was hard and the scorching heat and lack of water in the desert we were now walking through made this one of the toughest days yet. We climbed and climbed over the course of three days crossing desert, forest, and eventually returning to the high paramo. From here we were blessed with one of the most spectacular sights of the hike. For the first time, we were able to look back and see views of the mountains we had traversed over the last week. Feeling like we had been moving really slow through the south of Ecuador, it was a needed vista. We both were overwhelmed with the sense of accomplishment that seeing the incredibly rough terrain we had crossed provided. We had come far and truly knowing what was there in those mountains was indescribable. Our success to this point cannot be marked by the miles hiked, but rather by the fact that we have overcome remendous difficulty to get where we are which has amounted to experience that I could only have expected to gain throughout the entirety of South America. We have come far and will keep going, but no longer will only the miles mark our progress. We both have gained an incredible appreciation for the difficulty of the hike and love the challenge. It was later that day that we´d begin our next major test.

last notes

Reaching the highest mountains left in Ecuador, we also reached the clouds. With 40-60 mph consistent winds, gusts up to 70 mph and visibility less than 20 feet, we would spend the next three days blindly navigating a ridge that had drops of more than 5000 feet on all sides. Going the wrong way would have meant being utterly screwed, as the terrain around us was not at all forgiving and we´d have a near imposssible hike back up if we had decended the wrong valley. We took our time, checking the compass every 100 feet or so and double checking our progress on the map which we could only hope was accurate. Upon reaching the other side of the ridge and descending to find that we had successfully made our way to the exact point we had set out for, pure elation. We had proven to ourselves that if we arecareful and work together there really is little that will hinder our progress. Don´t worry, we won´t be seeking out any extra challenges as a result of our confidence. At this point we have settled into a routine and have surely gotten the hang of traveling here. This has raised a few questions about how what we do is different than having a job or working towards a goal such as graduation or promotion. As we wake everyday and know that we walk, doing the same thing everyday has begun to feel all too ordinary. Sure everyday is different and presents new challenges and opportunity for growth, but it is precisely that change that has become the norm. It is almost as if we have become professional travelers. We have each discovered at different times how human it is to desire change. We are fully aware that we are in a place most could only dream of, that three months ago we could only have dreamt of. At times it feels as if there is something we are missing by devoting so much time to one goal. It has taken eachother to bring us back to the reality of how extraordinary the places we go really are, and that these thoughts are human, and only to be expected in such an undertaking.

We look forward to reaching the border early in the week. Peru has some places that we have looked forward to for over a year, we can´t wait to learn from those places. We also should be getting some visitors over the next few months which we are both looking forward to. Please keep in touch we miss so many of you everyday.