Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ground Breaking in Alto Libertad

We broke ground on Monday, January 25th for the Alto Libertad "House of Prayer". Becasue of the steep and varying terrain, we have to build retaining walls on 3 sides of the building. We are starting with the back wall and completed digging the footing and getting the concrete footing placed. We hope to have the back retainin wall completed by the end of next week. Several people from the church have come to help, feed us sandwiches, or give us a refreshing drink. What a great week.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kula was lost, but now is found

I would have never thought about listing or checking Craigslist for a missing dog. Care and Bill Tuk did this for their daughter’s dog that was lost over Christmas and found her in one day. That is when I told them that Kula had disappeared just before Thanksgiving. They asked our permission last week if they could do a Craigslist add for Kula and see if they could find her. I sent Care a message yesterday morning that they could try, but I didn’t hold out much hope. I don’t know if Care put an add out, or just started searching other adds, but she emailed me that afternoon and said she may have found Kula. After Bill got off work, they went and checked it out, and sure enough it was Kula. The family she was with had found her after Chirstmas (maybe after New Years) at the end of Knik Goose Bay Road where all the snow machiners park. Don’t know if she followed a dog sled team, snow machine, or what. She was just very friendly and wanted in their car. The Craigs list add was not very descriptive and it can only be explained as a God-thing that Care even called it. Kula was much thinner but overall is really healthy.

I still can’t believe it!!

Grandma's Birthday

We had to get one last adventure in before Mom and Dad had to leave Peru. So the last day they were in Arequipa, we took a half day rafting trip on the Chili River. We did this as a birthday present for Grandma. The river was a little muddy from some recent rains in the mountains, but we had a great time and enjoyed the ride.

Amazon Adventures

After a short trip to Lima to have Dawns eyes checked by her surgeon (her eyes are improving by the way) we decided to take a trip to Iquitos. Iquitos is located in north Peru along the Amazon River. At 600,000 people, it is the largest city in the world that is not road accessible. You can only fly in or take a boat. (Sounds a little like Alaska, only more people).

We arrived at the airport, with no plans and no reservations. I had a name of a hostel to try to find and check out. While waiting for our luggage, I start a conversation with a tour guide that happened to be standing there after droppign some clients off to catch their plane. He was from one of the jungle lodges that I had read about, and offered us a good deal on a 2 day, 1 night stay. To top it off, the hostel I wanted to go to was only 2 blocks from his office, so he offered us a ride to the hostel. Kind of cool how things work out sometimes.

After a good nights rest, we jumped back into the van and headed down to the public docks. We jumped into a nice boat for a 30 minute ride down the Amazon to the Sinchicuy Lodge. We took several jungle walks, visited a local village, got to shoot a blow gun (Dawn proved to be the best shot), visited a local medicine man/shaman and learned about medicinal uses of native plants, squeezed sugar cane and drank the juice, fished for piranhas, swung on vines like Tarzan and Jane, swam in a tributary of the Amazon, and just enjoyed ourselves. The mosquitos weren't bad around the lodge, but got a little more fiesty on our jungle walks. Still not as bad as bush Alaska in June.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mt. Chachani

Ever since I was a little boy, I have wanted to climb Mt. McKinley. But by the time I finished college and started working, the costs for such an adventure far exceeded my means. So I have been eagerly waiting for Daniel to come to Peru where we could climb Mount Chachani for a fraction of the cost.

Daniel, Scott (a friend from the office) and I started this adventure on December 29. We met our guide at 9am, picked up a little extra gear, and headed to the mountain. For about 2 hours, we bounced around in a 4-wheel drive along dirt roads and trails. As we rose in elevation we saw several groups of vicunas (similar to a llama) feeding along the way.

We were dropped off at about 16,000 feet and started our climb to base camp. After about 1 ½ hours of steady climbing, we made it to base camp at 17,700 feet. We set up our tents and tried to get a little rest. About 4pm, the clouds moved in and the temperature dropped from a nice 60 degrees, to below freezing. Ice started forming on out tent lines and gear. At 5pm, we gathered for a nice hot meal of soup and vegetable stew. A cute little fox smelled the food and was curious enough to hang around for a few photos.

With darkness setting in just after 6pm, we settled into our tents to try and sleep. Even resting, our breathing was uneven and gaspy, so sleep did not come easy at this elevation. And it was cold! I don’t know what the temperature was, but our water froze in the tent. Our sleeping bags were rated for 20 degrees, and I slept in my pants and sweater with my hat and gloves on. Daniel got up in the middle of the night and put on his snow pants to stay warm. Needless to say, sleep would be better described as short 5-10 minute catnaps every hour.

We got up just after 1am. We grabbed a quick breakfast of bread, jam, and colca tea. By 1:45, we were off to the summit. The route we were on is the most common way to the summit. It was not a technical assent, although the darkness made it a little more challenging. After a short climb, we crossed the ridgeline from the eastern side of the mountain to the western face. It was cold and the light wind made your fingers even colder. We came to a long traverse across a steep skree slope. The guide had us get out our ice picks to arrest our fall in case we slipped while we crossed the slope. Although the ground was frozen, there was no snow or ice this time of year, so we did not need to use crampons. After the long traverse, there was a steep climb that took over an hour. Our lungs were burning by this time, and we took a small break after crossing a small saddle just below the summit. The time was just before 6am and the sun was rising. After a 30 minute push up the last slope, we reached the summit at 19,931 feet. (Just 389 feet lower that Mount McKinley!) We had made the assent in about 4 hours and 45 minutes. The guide had set a quick pace, since the normal time to summit is 6 hours. He said we were strong climbers. The sky was clear and the view was amazing. We could see the tops of several other mountains, Misti Volcano, the city of Arequipa, and in the distance another taller mountain. After a short photo session, we headed back down.

The trip down was much quicker than going up. On the steep slopes, we went straight down, taking big steps in the soft, loose gravelly soil. The sun was warm now, and we had to take off some layers of clothes. We arrived back in base camp by 8:30am. The altitude and lack of sleep had given us headaches, some nausea, and we were all tired. We set down our packs and enjoyed a nice (but short) nap in the warm sun. All too soon, we were packing our gear and heading down the trail to catch our coche ride home. Another great adventure through God's creation.

Christmas Morning