It struck me that here was a bunch of people doing something for charity. Something that was potentially (and really was) “tough and miserable” to quote the words of Kelso, one of the team leaders. Not only the toughness and miserableness of exhaustion and altitude sickness but in addition I’m sure there were quite a few (like us) combining it all with something we hate the idea of, i.e. camping.
Not just “normal” camping in a civilised campsite, but in a very basic and usually very cold site. No showers; toilets are either a long queue for a chemical jobby (excuse the bad pun) or a hole in the ground. You don’t know whether to be happy about the fantastically beautiful starry sky or dread the cold night ahead that it means. You wake up at 3.a.m. needing the toilet at -7? and wonder if it’s best to get up then, put all your clothes on, navigate to the toilet and hopefully get back to sleep, or worry whether you can hold it in and go back to sleep until the 5.30.a.m. wake up for breakfast.
The good thing about this trek was the food. The local porters and cooks did an amazing job. A nourishing breakfast of coca tea, quinoa porridge and pancakes was ready by 6.00. We set off, they then packed up camp and set off carrying all the tents, sleeping bags, food, water and toilets) and overtook us in time to set up and cook lunch. We ate a hearty Andean meal; they then packed up and set off with all the stuff, overtook us and set up the evening meal.
All that in sandals and no Goretex.