Sunday, 24.01.2010: first altitude

24 Jan
My goal for today was to move in direction of San Pedro de Atacama from where I plan to do some shorter trip to get used to the altitude and not to join San Peedro directly.

The height lines showed on my map around Calama (Reise Know-How) shows 2100m, 2700m and 3600m. As I did not know what could be expected (even asking around) I planed to sleep between Calama and San Pedro, hoping I could stay a little bit higher as a first preparation for the next passes.

The “pass” between Calama and San Pedro is at 3400m and slept beside the road somewhere at 3410m. Higher then my trip around the Matterhorn, not so steep, but with 50kg more to carry.

When leaving Calama, the first thing that impressed me was a river with people playing around. It is about 25 days that I have not seen a river and it is the first where I see people swimming.

Then, there are several monuments dedicated to mine or to people who were assinated in the several political changes the country had.

Always looking a litttle bit back, the Chuquicamata is enormous. You see the removed material even from 40km!

On the way to the “top”, the landscape changed much. Starting with garbage surrounding the place where Calama is “storing” it (don’t forget the smell), to dryness and with altitude some bushes here and there. And as well the rest of a desert flower…

The 60km to the pass needed some time, which you can use to look arounf and try to discover things you had not see the minute before. So I started to watch the rest of a cloud from Bolivia finishing to live… And it disappeared…nothing new, until it reappeared from “nothing” 20s later, disappeared lastly. NO, I haven’t drunk anything else than water!

Two kilometer before reaching my goal, a pickup car stopped by and asked me, where I was heading. “A San Pedro?”. Yes of course… And then he proposed me to put everything in the trunk and to bring me there. I told him thank you with a big smile…but I guess here lies the difference between culture (sport or country).

As I would have time (so I think) to get down to San Pedro, I enjoyed the view for a long while before setting up the tent. Before cooking (or trying) some pasta, I had to wear some thing warmer: even the sun was still up, the wind felt cold (18°C). Unfortunately, the stove had a problem like a kind of a leak. I’ll have to check it in San Pedro. Luckily that I had a bottle of spiritus (Ethanol).. It took a little bit longer to cook, but was “fun” to put some Ethanol every 30s below the pan. CHILDREN: DO NOT DO THAT !!

So, the temperature is now down to 6C, I’m going to sleep. Gud n8

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