Monday, June 23, 2014

Hola from Huaraz

We can't think of a better way to kick off our active and sporting adventure enjoying the freedom of the mountains, than by sharing the gift of freedom and sport with some deserving Peruvian challenged athletes.  Early Saturday morning in Lima we met with Miguel Rodriguez (another great connection from the fabulous Beth Sanden) who in turn introduced us to two athlete representatives from Miguel's organization Achilles International.  Edwin, 25 years old pictured on left, lost the use of his legs at an early age due to polio, and Marcello suffered a similar paralyzation although he can walk with the use of crutches.
As we presented the two wheelchairs we brought down from the U.S., the look of excitement and pure joy on the faces of Edwin and Marcello was absolutely priceless.  Marcello kept thanking us profusely for what this means to him and the other athletes who will use this race wheelchair and feel the wind in their face and the exhilaration of competing in a marathon as if he had full use of his legs.  Denise said to Marcello: "Es un regalo del Dios" - "It is a gift from God."

Eight hours later by bus heading north from Lima, we found ourselves in Huaraz, in the Cordillera Blanca, the climbing Mecca of Peru. Along with the neighboring Huayhuash Range, this region contains some 22 impressive summits over 6,000 m (19,800 feet) making it the highest mountain range in the world outside the Himalayas.  Huaraz is situated at 10,138 feet so we have scheduled several days to acclimate here and hike in the mountains surrounding the city before the big expedition begins. Yesterday was a short hike to Pukaventana, winding up through a beautiful canyon 1,500 vertical feet offering a spectacular view of Huaraz and off in the distance, the main objective - Huascaran!

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