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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.


As the van carrying us away from hot springs and back towards Urumbamba turned around another switchback the mountains that comprised our surroundings for the past four days faded into the distance. I sat in the far back listening to the songs I had downloaded onto my outdated and sticker coated ipod and mulling over the trials and triumphs of the trails behind us.

The first day had discovered us excited and energetic, only peripherally aware of the downsides of sleeping under the stars and eating cooked meals everynight. While it was an optimistic group of teens and weary instructors and guides that set off into the “backcountry” what arrived at the first campsite was a group of utterly exhausted students and instructors and an unphased guide (Americo, our guide once mentioned that he is able to do this trek in a mere five hours, which humbled us all at least slightly). And as we stood in our tent groups trying to remember which pegs go where and how to lay down the ground layer without it blowing away llamas stood grazing in the distance and the powerful breath of a waterfall-and consequently the rivers that crisscrossed through our newly claimed territory-continually sounded behind us and the mountains we had yet to climb stood menacingly in front of us, challenging us to break down our tents and continue walking until we could no more.

That night passed in the same manner; a sense of reverence for the grand structures surrounding us as I peeled potatoes and diced celery. And that night we huddled together cradling the warmth of our tuberwares of quinua soup.

The second day pushed us higher up along the mountain and tested our groups ability to pace ourselves but as noon rolled around and we stood overlooking all of our process from the two previous days and turned and looked down at the newly discovered side of the mountain we shared in a sense of fulfillment and again hungered to walk more terrain and I found my feet leading me on to the next chapter.


(forgive my spelling errors; the keyboard here tends to stick. And although I didnt have time to fully describe the entire trek Im sure my peers will fill in the gaps)