Day 106 – High Altitude We knew that we were in for a long day of riding. It was going to be over 400 kms to the camp that we were hoping to make and the road was going to be twisty. Ten minutes out of Nazca we were back in the mountains. Passing trucks between hairpin turns as they crawled up the mountain road. Soon we had climbed over 1500 meters, it was still hot and dry but again, it had its own beauty. What looked liked Inukshuk’s lined the side of the highway. By now we were over 3000 meters. The air started to feel thin and even walking could cause some huffing and puffing. We continued onwards, back down this mountain range, and then up another. It was obvious that more rain hits this area, but the high elevation keeps the vegetation from getting too thick. Llamas, alpacas and sheep walked along the roadside. After this plateau we started to climb again, reaching another plateau in short order. Now we were over 4000 meters. We stopped at a lake to get some pictures and put on more layers. The temperatures had dropped and were now around ten degrees Celsius. Thunderstorms seemed to be on the horizon. Charlie’s Hydraulic clutch was feeling strange, the pressure difference at this altitude was stressing more than just our lungs and our engines. We kept moving, but soon we were getting wet. We put on the rain gear since it looked like rain was going to be the theme for a while. It wasn’t a hard rain but the clouds blocked the sun and the temperature continued to drop. Now it was 4 degrees and wet. We reached the high point around 4600 meters on this desolate plateau. Unbelievably some hearty souls actually live here, mostly tending to their flocks of sheep and llamas. We made good time crossing the plateau since it was wide open and pretty straight roads. I can’t speak for Charlie but I was praying that the road would start back down… it was damn cold. My prayers were answered and soon the hairpins started back down into a lush green valley. As we descended the landscape changed from a dull brown of the high plateau to a lush green augmented with red rocks of the valley. So many different landscapes in one day. We would follow the river all the way to our camp. For the most part the rains stayed away, the road was fast sweepers and traffic was light. I was in awe the entire day. In one day we went from desert, to dry sandy mountains, to grassland plateaus, then high elevation plateaus with glaciers and lakes on the horizon. To finish we passed through a subtropical tropical valley and camped in the warmth beside the river. One of the most diverse and memorable riding days I have ever had. To cap it off, we were camping on December 23rd. Try doing that in Canada!