Hiking the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy: Dazzled on Day 3
On our third day of hiking the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy we were met with dazzling mountain scenes from the moment we opened the tent flap.
Considering the fog had rolled in by 4 pm the afternoon before, we really had no idea of the beauty that lay waiting for us once we peeled back that flap.
The sky was that deep inky blue that you only see at high altitude. The lakes were breathtaking in their beauty. And around this camp there was plenty of bird life and vegetation I’d not seen anywhere else on the planet.
Some trekkers come to this camp and spend a few nights hiking in the area. That in itself would be very worthwhile. Our plan though was to continue over Balcones Pass at 4350 meters (13,920 feet) to a camp beside Laguno del Pañuelo at an altitude of 4300 meters (13,674 feet).
The view outside our tent on the morning of Day 3
Ice on the ground in the morning
I have no idea what kind of plant this is
Although we were up just after 6 am we really didn’t get going till close to 9 am. We were waiting for the sun to dry the tents and since this was such a stunning landscape I was in no rush to get going either.
The hike took us around the lake – with infinity pool like views into the Colombian jungle. Then we had thirty minutes of Moab slickrock like hiking – which was easy and fun. As it turns out that was to be some of the easiest hiking all day.
Lots of frailejones at Camp 3
Unusual vegetation – at least for someone from North America
Female Plumbeous Sierra Finch
Beautiful waterfall at almost 14000 feet elevation
We’re heading towards a very different looking set of mountains
A pretty set of waterfalls
The cloud layer below lies over the jungles of Colombia
Our goal for the day is a camp at the bottom of the pass at the back of the photo
Rodrigo hiking along slabs of solid rock
Big mountains and glaciers in your face all day long
For about an hour we hiked along benches and eskers. The hiking required your concentration as this was not a place you wanted to turn an ankle or worse – break a leg. The hiking through huge boulders after lunch required even more careful foot placement as some of the big boulders moved with any weight on them.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief once we were through them.
Beautiful set of ponds en route to the pass
Quite the growing environment
Beautiful clear stream – a huge contrast to the orange ponds we saw
The end of the nasty walking through the boulder field
Love the burst of colour from these plants
New valley view after crossing over the hump – path at far right in photo
The top of our only pass for the day
Looking down from the pass to a flowing river in bright orange
Although the lakes appear a ways off in the distance, it took us only 20 minutes of hiking to get there.
Our camp is down by the far lake
We can see our tent from a distance
All told we hiked about six hours. Breathing felt easier on the climb than it did the day before. Thank heavens!
Another reward for our efforts and sleeping at altitude were the phenomenal night skies. They were just packed with stars so those 4 am trips out of the tent were actually quite pleasant. I think most of us forget what a sight a starry night is to behold.
Would you be dazzled by the hiking in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada del Cocuy on Day 3?
Other posts from our Colombia travels you might find interesting.
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