August 19, 2012
Jenni and Luke have returned from Ecuador…with some good stories! You might remember their previous post “How To Prepare For The Knife” which describes how they got to Ecuador in the first place. Or you might remember reading “How To Make A Mean Chicken Salad” their story from Ecuador last year. Either way, you’ll enjoy this post:
How To Manage Your Expectations
By Jenni Fogle
Your experience is always colored by your expectations. The best way to enjoy a journey is to start with NO expectations. Easier said than done.
After a great climb on Iliniza Sur, Luke and I spent a day resting and relaxing with friends in Uyumbicho, then headed out early Monday morning toward Antisana. August is not the climbing season for Antisana, so we knew we were rolling the dice a little and were mentally prepared for poor climbing conditions. We set up camp at 4900 meters on Monday afternoon, and waited patiently for a good weather window. Early Wednesday morning was windy but clear, and we thought it was our best chance. We left camp at 5 a.m. and worked our way up the glacier, winding around crevasses and seracs. At about 10:45 a.m., covered in rime ice and in 40 + mph winds with very low visibility, we turned around 120 meters from the top, unable to find a safe way to continue.
We slept soundly that night, then got up the next morning to even stormier weather, eager to set out for part two of our Antisana plan. We wanted to head cross-country to Papallacta, a location famous for it’s fantastic hot springs. We were definitely ready for hot springs. We had a vague description of how to get there, map, GPS, compass…….it didn’t sound or look that hard. We expected this part of the trip to be easy – 8 hours of easy to moderate walking rewarded by a soak in the hot springs and warm, dry beds. With this vision in our heads, we left camp at 8:30 a.m.
At 7 p.m., after hours of navigating through everything from glacier terminal moraine to Amazonian jungle, wading through rivers and climbing up steep slopes with nothing but mud and grass to help us up, we arrived at a lake which was still 4.5 km (as the crow flies) from our destination. We were completely soaked, everything we had was still wet from our previous camp, but further navigation was useless. Even with headlamps we couldn’t see well enough to continue. We put our tent up, changed out of our drenched clothing into damp clothing, crawled into our sleeping bags and slept until daylight.
Friday morning we started out determined to find a trail. Luke found a beautiful, muddy cow-trail after about 20 minutes, and we were off. It was still difficult travel, but we got to the highway at 12:30 – muddy, stinky, and with 9.5 hours to get to the airport! We got a hot meal, flagged down a bus and headed back toward Quito.
There were a couple of times on that walk out that we both wondered how on earth we were going to ever get back to civilization. We knew we would, but the journey was so far off of what we had expected that it was frustrating at times. Talking it over later, we realized that the frustration was all due to our expectations. Looking back, it was one of the most amazing walks of either of our lives. I am sure we walked in places where no person has ever been. We saw wild horses, llamas, condors and hawks. We walked through jungle so thick we had to whistle back and forth to stay together. From Monday at noon to Friday at noon, we didn’t see anyone but each other (except for a truck in the distance once). It was incredible.
How often can you say that the walk away from the mountain was as memorable as the climb itself? Just be aware of what you expectations really are and what your end goal really is!