Spinning upwards into whiteness, mud hurled everywhere. Ground saturated, movement possible only by dropping tire pressure and pedaling in an ever lower gear. Andean rainy season in all of its menace. Paul just visible ahead, a vague bicycle shape silhouetted against a background of mist.
3 hours of climbing in rain just light enough to make everything damp, find a stream gushing water and call it quits for the day. Set up camp fingers trembling, don’t care how much the ground slopes, will get in later and sleep contorted to avoid the larger lumps. Peel off wet clothes and open the drybag protecting the warm stuff, only to find it wasn’t closed properly, and that stuff is a little damp too. But less so, so it’s ok. Slide into sleeping bag and lie there getting warm, an hour and a half rest before going back outside for dinnertime.
The next day hop onto the bike in the warm sleeping clothes, once over the nearby pass we can descend a bit to a town. Just need to stay warm for the climb, in town promise of a hospedaje and a bed, blankets, will deal then with entire wardrobe being wet. Slowly ascend towards the pass, into impassable tacky donkey shit mud that clogs everything and stops wheels rotating. Mud clearances due for improvement on the next bike.
Staying on the Divide promises more of this, every single day.
So instead bookmark it for later, eject down from the mountains straight to the coast, start connecting buses to jump ahead to Bolivia to meet a contact while she’s there. Peru, for now, is over, with plans made to return. On the Divide, in the few villages everyone says the same: “Come back in May.” Riding during the rainy season is not impossible, and truly, conditions seem to change on a week by week basis. But routes farther south await. There are always good places to ride.