The Best of the Best

The "Tres Chicas Locas" have all been back stateside for at least a couple weeks now (Sarah since July) and we are slowly adjusting to life north of the equator. Its taken those two weeks for me to finally wake up not utterly confused about my whereabouts - how is it that after waking up in a new place every day for nearly a year, it is the waking up in a safe, spacious and comfortable home that brings on a slight panic attack? Life north of the equator is treating us well, although we are desperately looking forward to sleeping in the tent again soon. New adventures are unfolding day by day - Change. Life. Jobs. Standing Still. I continually search for the trashcans in the restrooms, accustomed to NEVER throwing the TP in the toilet, and it still takes Trinity several minutes before realizing that her phone is ringing (I haven't been able to dive back into being fully connected 24/7 yet and am still holding back from getting a phone until the last possible minute). For the first time since Sarah left us back in Peru, we enjoyed a complete 3-part reunion this past weekend in Breckenridge- the same place where we began to plan this trip back in February 2011. It is nice to reflect and try to summarize, so for us and for all of you out there we have put together a few lists - "The Best of the Best" 

Back in Colorado - Seeking the next adventure...

Top Ten Rules of the Trail:
  1. Always keep on outerwear when hitch-hiking to minimize smell in confined spaces
  2. If a shower is available, you have to take one
  3. Warn people the pretty rag hanging on your bag is actually your "pee-rag"
  4. Keep your hat on. Or wear a large headband.
  5. Don't eat the group chocolate. (SONNET!!!!!!)
  6. If you want cookies get your own.
  7. No out-and-backs (or you end up on a beach trying to flag down a boat trying to avoid not going back through a hell of horseflies), only thru-hiking northward!
  8. Calculate wind direction before snot-rocketing
  9. No drinking unless it's with others, brought by a visitor, or at breakfast
  10. If offered food, eat it 

Our Favorite Towns You Probably Never Need To Visit:
  • Chos Malal, Argentina (Mirko's Honey!)
  • La Quiaca, Argentina (Comfortable colorful hostal and best pizza of the trip while we were holed up waiting for the train)
  • Ocuri, Bolivia (nothing to do and no showers but for some reason it warmed on us)
  • Cachora, Peru (hard to get to but beautiful setting!)
  • Huancacalle, Peru (6-pack Mancon Hostal, random festival)
  • Pacoyan, Peru (most welcoming community we encountered!)

Our Top Ten Picks You'd Likely Find in the Lonely Planet Book:
(Ordered south to north... choosing 10 alone is hard enough!)
  1. Around El Chalten (Argentina)
  2. Torres del Paine "W" (Chile) NOTE: We hiked into TdP from Pto. Natales which we highly recommend.
  3. Cerro Castillo (Chile) NOTE: We created our own route starting on a trail in the south and continuing north un-trailed (about halfway through the reserve) until we exited the reserve and walked dirt roads into Coyhaique. The classic guidebook route runs east to west.
  4. Refugio hikes around El Bolson and Bariloche (Argentina)
  5. Lago Lolog to Laguna Verde in Parque Nacional Lanin (Argentina): NOTE: Again, we created our own route starting on established trails and then continuing north through the park to Volcano Lanin via two small swims across the lake and unimproved trails.
  6. Villaricca Traverse (Chile)
  7. Ausangate Circuit (Peru)
  8. Choquequirao (Peru) NOTE: We extended past Choquequirao to Huancacalle
  9. Cordillera Huayhuash (Peru) NOTE: We traversed from Cajatambo in the south to Llamac in the north, which is a less-common route (most do the full circuit).
  10. Cordillera Blanca (Peru) NOTE: We traversed the park generally south to north, ending with the guidebook Los Cedros trek.

Top Ten Less-Traveled, More-Adventure Trails:
(Ordered south to north... choosing 10 alone is hard enough!)
  1. Villa O'Higgins to Cochrane (Chile)
  2. Chacabuco to Lago Jeinimeni (Chile)
  3. Cerro Castillo  (Chile) NOTE: the second half was off the beaten path - see above.
  4. Flor del Valle to Icalma (Chile)
  5. Copahue to Estancia Ranquilco (Argentina)
  6. Chilecito through the Famatina Valley to Santa Cruz (Argentina)
  7. Antofagasta (Argentina)
  8. Ocuri to San Pedro (Bolivia)
  9. Cerro de Pasco to Cajatambo (Peru)
  10. Ingapirca to Alausi (Ecuador)

Top Ten Things We Will Miss:
  1. Cheap and delicious Argentinian/Chilean wines
  2. Spotting the Southern Cross every night
  3. Being disconnected and the anticipation of reconnecting
  4. Making friends with police and Border Patrol guys
  5. Hitch-hiking
  6. Traditional Foods: all street food, api & fry bread, alfajores, harina tostada, Mirko's honey, Argentinian/Chilean asados, saltenas, Tari (Crema de Aji), Aji, Cebiche... 
  7. Being able to have food in the tents- Colorado's got BEARS!
  8. Dirt cheap, creamy, durable avocados at every meal
  9. Having time to read for pleasure
  10. Our threesome and our routine

Top Ten Things We Will NOT Miss:
  1. Trucks honking in our faces while we're hiking by roads
  2. Constant smell of urine in cities
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Kids begging for candy
  5. Perma-dirt on our ankles, feet, nails, etc.
  6. Buying bottled water (so much waste!)
  7. Crappy "paper" napkins
  8. Invasion of personal space on buses and in markets
  9. Scary street dogs
  10. Only having 2 pairs of undies

Top Ten Things We Are Looking Forward To:
  1. Hot showers with reliable and consistent pressure
  2. Knowing what we are really ordering at restaurants
  3. Toilets you can actually sit on
  4. Healthy, sustainable diets
  5. Helpful, friendly and customer-oriented customer service
  6. Drinking tap water without worrying about consequences
  7. Reliable and safe transportation
  8. Rebuilding our upper body strength
  9. Make-up, high heels and dresses!
  10. (North) American Men! Yes we are all single :)


  1. I will never live that down!!... But I shared all my food?... I guess I didn't make a difference once it was done.. Hah

  2. I'm delighted to learn that you liked Huancacalle and the hostal there. The owners and their benefactors are friends, and I've enjoyed my stays, too. I hope you won't mind if I make a small correction: the name of the hostal is Sixpac Manco. This is a play on the name Manco Inca. After the Spanish conquest, Manco Inca, half-brother to murdered emperor Atahualpa, fled with his retinue to nearby Vitcos. In the 1980s, this archeological site was explored and mapped by Vince and Nancy Lee, who dubbed their Vilcabamba expeditions Sixpac Manco and later helped the Coboses and Chavezes launch the hostal--hence the name.

    Thanks for dreaming up this fabulous journey and charting it for the rest of us. It's been great, vicarious fun!


    1. Great history! Thank you for that, Shelley! I will make that change now :)

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  5. Lol! Love the rules! Had me laughing for a while :)

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