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  • Ryan Wahle

When it rains it pours.

Updated: Mar 4

And I don’t mean figurative rain. I mean actual rain.

The kind that won’t stop. The kind that seeps into your bones and socks and brain and makes your fingers curl up and stop working. The kind that is actually almost snow.


We set out of the mountain town of Laraos with warnings of heavy rain in the forecast. Our first 10 kilometers flew by in a haze of sweat, switchbacks, and snacks. A brief rain shower had us get our rain gear at the ready; then we relaxed with the sun and kept pedaling up, up, up.


Ominous clouds and rolling thunder on the mountains across the valley made us wary and kept us pedaling faster than usual. In what seemed like seconds, the fog rolled in and everything was wet. The rain—light at first—became more and more persistent. The thick heavy fog grazed the mountainsides just above the road we were on, and the rain drove harder and harder into our backs.


A few kilometers later, just as the rain was starting to come down harder and harder, we spotted a tiny hut with a larger building beside it. Hoping to hide from the rain under the awning of the building, we rushed over. A little old woman who introduced herself as Betty ushered us inside, probably thinking we were insane. As Megan and I shook off and settled onto benches to warm up, Ryan told Betty of our plans to bike up and over the 5 passes between us and Huancavelica. At that point she definitely thought we were insane. “Ay! Mucha lluvia! Muy frío! No hay nada por allá”. Betty did not think much of our plan to brave the weather up high.


We knew it was a push to do these routes in the rainy season, but we didn’t realize quite how cold it would be. Rain is one thing, freezing rain AND snow above 14,000 ft is another.


After leaving Bettys house, we pushed through the rain around a few last bends to the lake where we planned to camp. The dry ground beneath an open-walled shed for a nearby trout farm lured us in. Frantically tearing off soggy clothes, digging through bags to find anything dry to put on, we hopped around under the shelter, cursing the rain and trying to make our fingers work enough to unbuckle bags and straps. Ryan, the most functional, started to heat up water for tea as I spent 10 minutes arguing with my fingers over how to press the sides of a buckle and Megan huddled in my sleeping bag, too cold to move.


Having already decided that continuing up and over the passes was probably not our best option at this point, we started to talk about alternate plans and routes.


As we clumsily stuffed cold and damp chocolate into our mouths and talked about how to best pitch a tent and stay relatively dry under the small shelter, Betty came sauntering regally around the corner through the rain, three sheep dogs trotting happily by her side.


She walked up to us casually, as if she predicted we wouldn’t be continuing over the pass. Scattered wet clothing and a haphazard assembly of a ground cloth and camp stove under the storage shed clearly showed her that we were in state of abrupt transition from our original plans. Ryan asked if it was okay for us to remain under the shed for the evening, but sweet sweet Betty had a better idea. Her childhood home, now empty and used for storage, was just across the field. She unlocked it for us and said we could stay.

Somehow, that night, cuddled in a nest of old fishing nets and alpaca skins with was the best sleep I’ve had in weeks.


The next morning brought similar moody skies and the promise of more storms. Packing up and saying goodbye to our dusty savior of a cottage, we prepared for a 50 mile and 10,000 ft descent back down into the desert from which we had came almost three weeks earlier.


-Ren .

And I don’t mean figurative rain. I mean actual rain. The kind that won’t stop. The kind that seeps into your bones and socks and brain and makes your fingers curl up and stop working. The kind that is actually almost snow.


We set out of the mountain town of Laraos with the warnings of heavy rain in the forecast. Our first 10 kilometers flew by in a haze of sweat, switchbacks, and snacks. A brief rain shower had us get our rain gear at the ready; then we relaxed with the sun and kept pedaling up, up, up.


Ominous clouds and rolling thunder on the mountains across the valley made us wary and kept us pedaling faster than usual. In what seemed like seconds, the fog rolled in and everything was wet. The rain—light at first—became more and more persistent. The thick heavy fog grazed the mountainsides just above the road we were on, and the rain drove harder and harder into our backs.


A few kilometers later, just as the rain was starting to come down harder and harder, we spotted a tiny hut with a larger building beside it. Hoping to hide from the rain under the awning of the building, we rushed over. A little old woman who introduced herself as Betty ushered us inside, probably thinking we were insane. As Megan and I shook off and settled onto benches to warm up, Ryan told Betty of our plans to bike up and over the 5 passes between us and Huancavelica. At that point she definitely thought we were insane. “Ay! Mucha lluvia! Muy frío! No hay nada por allá”. Betty did not think much of our plan to brave the weather up high.


We knew it was a push to do these routes in the rainy season, but we didn’t realize quite how cold it would be. Rain is one thing, freezing rain AND snow above 14,000 ft is another.


After leaving Bettys house, we pushed through the rain around a few last bends to the lake where we planned to camp. The dry ground beneath an open-walled shed for a nearby trout farm lured us in. Frantically tearing off soggy clothes, digging through bags to find anything dry to put on, we hopped around under the shelter, cursing the rain and trying to make our fingers work enough to unbuckle bags and straps. Ryan, the most functional, started to heat up water for tea as I spent 10 minutes arguing with my fingers over how to press the sides of a buckle and Megan huddled in my sleeping bag, too cold to move.


Having already decided that continuing up and over the passes was probably not our best option at this point, we started to talk about alternate plans and routes.


As we clumsily stuffed cold and damp chocolate into our mouths and talked about how to best pitch a tent and stay relatively dry under the small shelter, Betty came sauntering regally around the corner through the rain, three sheep dogs trotting happily by her side.


She walked up to us casually, as if she predicted we wouldn’t be continuing over the pass. Scattered wet clothing and a haphazard assembly of a ground cloth and camp stove under the storage shed clearly showed her that we were in state of abrupt transition from our original plans. Ryan asked if it was okay for us to remain under the shed for the evening, but sweet sweet Betty had a better idea. Her childhood home, now empty and used for storage, was just across the field. She unlocked it for us and said we could stay.

Somehow, that night, cuddled in a nest of old fishing nets and alpaca skins with was the best sleep I’ve had in weeks.


The next morning brought similar moody skies and the promise of more storms. Packing up and saying goodbye to our dusty savior of a cottage, we prepared for a 50 mile and 10,000 ft descent back down into the desert from which we had came almost three weeks earlier.


-Ren

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