Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Home Stretch and Bad Decisions

We are T- 2 weeks until the due date and completely without a kitchen. Yep, you read that right, we took the nesting instinct a little too far and ripped out our entire functioning kitchen to remodel it last week.
Before pic from Aug 6
Not sure if this counts as the worst idea ever, or the best thing we could do before bringing a pure, sweet new life into our house.

Reasons this may be a terrible idea:

1) Like every project on our house this is a much bigger job than we anticipated. We tore out the old floor, cabinets and counter top to find wiring issues, black mold, and an incredibly un-level floor. So yeah, what I though was a two week project is probably going to be more like a 3-5 week job.

2) I am becoming less and less useful every passing day. Well, actually that's kinda not true, I'm super helpful one day and then basically useless the next because I tend to over do it and then need to recover. It's been really frustrating though because I want to pull my weight, to contribute as much as possible to the manual labor involved in remodeling a kitchen DIY style, but I can't.
Current state of kitchen, yikes!

Reasons this is the best thing we could do right now:
1) The amount of rat poop and nest like material we found under the old cabinets was shocking. I knew there were rats, but it's so gross to face a decade worth of excrement with the naked eye. I am so so so glad we are cleaning this nasty nasty situation before bringing a baby home to live in this house. It feels disgusting that we have been living here for 8 years with all that poop in the kitchen. It smelled so bad when we tore out the cabinets that I couldn't even go into the kitchen without getting sick. So yeah, the kitchen will be clean, finally actually clean and I'm very happy about that.

Other things happening in week 37.5 of pregnancy are that I lost my title as the defending Leadville champ this past weekend. I have to say that of all people to win the 2019 Leadville 100mtb though, it was kinda meaningful to me that it was Rose Grant who crossed the line first on Saturday. Rose has been racing and a mother as long as I have known her (fun fact: I actually met her between practice runs and finals of the Super D at Missoula back when they had that. Rose was nursing her infant and I thought she was a wacko. Like, who does that? and also wouldn't the hormones and stuff like testosterone from intense racing get into the breast milk? and WOW, that woman is kinda awesome to be racing as a pro AND nursing a baby!) and she balances the demands of being a mother and bike racer so well. She is a testament to the idea that women are amazing and capable, and I am so inspired by her. I've also spent time with her and her daughter Layla between races and I've seen the patient mother she is, with high expectations but also an abundance of grace and love. I'm just so impressed. So yeah, seeing Rose win was pretty dang cool.
Rose hugging her daughter after winning the Leadville 100 mtb. 

Last week I recorded a podcast with my awesome neighbor Val over at SheShreds and I'm excited that it's going to be on mountain bike radio really soon! It meant a lot to me that Val asked me to be on her podcast because I am vain haha, but also because like I've mentioned before it's easy to feel irrelevant when you go from international pro mountain bike racer with a seemingly interesting life to knocked up and home all the time. I hate that I kinda fell into the same pattern I've witnessed of other pro females, of dropping off the map in the sense that I pulled way back on social media and stuff because I felt uninteresting. I wish more women I can relate to were sharing their stories about pregnancy and childbirth etc and I did the same thing my idols did, just stop posting and sharing. So thanks Val, for taking the time to talk to me, and hopefully you will find the podcast interesting, funny, or useful. I'll share a link on FB and Insta when it's live.
Hiking in Big Sur was hard but worth it!!

And a quick pregnancy update: Still feeling really good most of the time. My right arm has been falling asleep every night now for the past 5 nights and that makes it hard to sleep. We are talking crazy super painful falling asleep, and no position I've found allows my arm to regain feeling/reduces the pain. The midwife says it's due to swelling and no amount of drinking water, eating salt etc will help, so that's fun and also not something I ever expected. BUT I'm still swimming 2 miles at a time a few times a week, I hiked in Big Sur with Meryl this weekend and as long as I don't go bonkers 2 days in a row I'm super lucky to be feeling good and to have the ability to do the things I love. Don't worry, I don't take a second of this for granted, I know pregnancy affects everyone differently and I know how fortunate I am to feel so great.

So yeah, we are taking a little break from the manual labor, because breaks are really helpful when you are crazy preggo and have been on your feet all day and start having contractions haha. Gotta keep the baby inside, Brendan says that's my most important job. Wish us luck with this mega fast kitchen remodel!
You know you've lost your mind when you are operating a jackhammer at 37 weeks pregnant. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Week 35!!

Morning snugs with the fur child
Every morning since we got back from vacation I have woken up in a strange state of confusion. Seriously, like what a strange place we are in, in life. Each morning is the same progression of: where am I, why am I not living in the van racing bikes? Wait, I'm pregnant, right? Holy crap, I'm super pregnant, my belly is HUGE! OMG how lucky are we that we are going to have a baby. 
No joke, every morning. It's pretty rad.
It took a while, but I'm finally in a head space where I am 100% stoked beyond belief about the alien pushing its limbs along my abdomen. Where I don't wish I could ride bikes on any given day, and where taking a nap in the afternoon because my body is working so hard seems like the right thing to do, no questions asked. I was always happy about this baby, but all the things being preggo has taken away from me don't matter anymore, and that's a pretty good feeling. 

Other interesting week 35 thoughts and feelings: 
We are two weeks away from full term!!! Which means the baby could come any time from 2-5 weeks from now! Crazy. Besides not feeling sad about missing the bike and all that I'm also really starting to enjoy actually being pregnant. I can eat what I want, when I want, and I feel really good most of the time (besides my legs hurting after long house construction sessions). I'm soaking it all in because I'm imagining this is way easier than having a newborn, thinking about the concept of loosing baby weight, and potentially starting to train from scratch (nothing is guaranteed, but IF I feel the pull to race again...). Just right here, right now I'm enjoying every moment because I know it will be over soon. I'm also super stoked with how capable I am this far a long, like I can still swim 2 miles, hike, work on the house, and do pretty much anything I want to do. I imagined before this that the last month would mean sitting on the couch eating ice cream too big to want to walk, but it's not like that at all! I just have a big belly and my cycling jerseys don't fit, nothing else is really that different!
We put siding up on the back of the house this week...in 100 degree heat. Yeah, pregnancy isn't that bad :)

Another fun, strange, interesting side affect of this pregnancy is that I feel so much more like a normal person than I ever have. I don't work out to train to win anything, I work out to feel good. I don't turn down ice cream trips with co-workers or late night concerts like Vulfpeck in Berkeley, it's kinda a nice break from the last 5 years of structured training, prioritizing rest between, starving myself all the time etc... I think being an elite athlete prepared me pretty well for this because I'm used to feeling depleted all the time, to staying off my feet, focusing on hydrating... Now I'm just training in a different way, like by reading lots of books on pregnancy and labor, doing strange exercises (hello Kegels) and meditating/visualization practice. 
At the Berkeley rose garden, because sightseeing is WAY easier when you aren't bike racing all the time!
And lastly for today random people are JUST NOW starting to ask me when I'm due, like as in everyone who saw me in the past 3 months either couldn't tell and didn't want to be rude or just thought I was chubby. I find this hilarious. I FEEL HUGE but people keep saying I'm 'small' and it's equal parts encouraging that the baby will be small and strange to me because I feel like it would be 'bad' if I wasn't 'small'. I don't feel small, so I feel like if I do gain a bunch of weight it will be 'bad'... I don't know, I'm probably being over sensitive. On that note though I originally thought that I could get away with wearing sports bras and my old running shorts all summer, but my hips have gotten so wide that the shorts wont fit much longer. I really don't want to buy maternity clothes, so I'm hoping I can make it 4 more weeks with the one pair of maternity shorts I have and dresses for when we have to go out in public!
On our road trip somewhere outside of Seattle. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Salkantay Trek Day 3: Rivers and Popsicles and Jungle

Day 3 was much shorter and easier than day 2, which was great because I think we all needed a break. We left camp and headed down into the gorge that housed the angry river raging down from the glacier we had been right next to the day before. The hike took us through some small villages complete with adorable school children beginning the hour long walk to school, farm animals and crops like squash and corn.                                                                                              We crossed a bridge near the bottom of the canyon, and were instantly surrounded by jungle. After a quick stop to soak ourselves in Deet (You know, because me getting cancer in 10 years seemed better than the baby getting Zica, so yeah 98% Deet it was) we pushed on, up steep climbs and down steeper ones on a narrow strip of trail benched into the hillside.  

We crossed tons of bridges, some legit and sturdy looking, some sketchy logs over a river bridges. Once again I was wishing I had my mountain bike, and once again I really enjoyed the conversation with the others in our group (this time talking to Jen about their neighborhood and chickens).

 I can't get over how lush and green and vibrant the jungle was. It was really really cool to have come down off this huge glacier where the landscape was basically just rock and bam, next day you are in this lush jungle. 

After hiking for a few hours we came across a few passion fruit farms. The temperature was rising, and as the shade gave way to sun we got quite warm. Fortunately one of the farms sold popsicles! Lexi and I bought one of each passion fruit flavor as there were two varieties, one tart and intensely flavorful, the other more mild and sweet. It was like heaven eating such a cold treat in the shade, off our feet for a moment.

And then it was back to walking, crossing bridges and walking some more. Eventually we came to a town where we took another small break. We must have walked for 5 hours up to that point, and I was ready for lunch/a little tired and a lot hot. Lexi and I bought two red bananas for 1 sole and were shocked at how good they were. The flavor was pretty different from a regular banana in the US and they were dense and creamy, the perfect treat.                                                                                                                                     Sadly, post bananas and a quick coffee demonstration from our guides (where they roasted and ground coffee beans over a fire and then made Peruvian Starbucks for us) we had to keep walking. The walk to lunch was so long in fact that we snuck in a little taxi ride in a big bus to be able to make it to camp on time. It was kinda funny because the taxi let us out a good ten minutes from camp, because we were supposed to hike the whole time, and I guess if they saw us on the bus we would be in trouble. 

Fortunately lunch was at our camp for the night, meaning after lunch we had the afternoon free to go zip lining, to the hot springs, or to relax at camp. 
 I think lunch on day 3 was another of my favorite meals because there were two huge trays of guacamole most likely made with avocados from the trees all around the farm we were staying on. I ate so much guacamole I was sick all afternoon, and I was still burping it up at dinner time. The chefs also made animals out of veggies like the eggplant condor below. I thought that was hilarious.

Because we had skipped showering the previous night Lexi and I decided to go to the hot springs where there was relaxation plus a hot shower two for the price of one. I also didn't really feel like zip lining 5 months pregnant was a great idea, esp considering I was already pushing my luck in the doing too much category.
The hot springs was crazy impressive, with three HUGE pools decreasing in temperature as you moved downhill. I went in the cooler two, but opted to skip the super hot one for the baby's sake. After we found out the 'shower' was just to wash yourself in the runoff from the hotspring, which was a little gross and not private at all, but we did the best we could with what we had :)

On the bus ride back to camp we had another amazing conversation with our trekking companions on parenting and things everyone has observed with entitlement and children in nature. I love that our group was so open and shared so much about their own families. I've been pretty scared about parenting, and hearing so many opinions and observations has helped me continue to build a picture in my mind of who I want to be as a parent. I appreciate all the different viewpoints and thoughts SO much!

And then we had dinner (yet another meal where I wasn't hungry but ate anyway because energy) and went straight to sleep because we were all beat.
Lex and I at the hot spring.
Walking a crazy distance to the hot spring because there was construction on the road so we got dropped off really far away. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Pregnancy Thoughts: It's Been a Minute

Yeah, so life has been busy with the school year ending, birthing classes starting and never ending house projects always needing attention. Through all of this though the reality that a small human is growing inside of me has become more and more, I don't know, real? And it's been a minute since I posted an update on baby growing, so here are some of the thoughts and feelings that have been going through my head in the past few months in no particular order.
Views from a hike in Big Sur where bikes are definitely NOT allowed. 
I've been doing A LOT of hiking lately. Since the concussion crash I've been much more hesitant to ride bikes, and along with the fear of hitting the deck again, I also REALLY don't fit into my old bike clothes anymore. Hiking has been great though! I've been able to push myself and find physical challenge (mostly from using new muscle groups that are weak and don't take a ton of effort to exhaust) as well as that good old fashion time in nature type mental decompression that helps me process my thoughts, feelings and emotions. Hiking means getting to see some places you aren't allowed to take bikes, like the Wilderness, and it's been my only option for when Brendan mountain bikes on our current road trip, so at least I don't feel like I'm missing out too much!

Left: Entering the Wilderness, a place bikes aren't allowed on the way to Baldy. Right: Carl on the PCT, which we call the perfect cycling trail but is very illegal to ride your bike on. 
Mt. Baldy summit, 10,035 ft

A few weeks ago I hiked the North Backbone trail with Carl. During our hike we had a lot of great conversations, but one of the things we talked about has been on my mind for a long long time. I've been doing a decent job of continuing to share my life and experiences on social media but I haven't done a great job of keeping in touch with my cycling friends, and I think a good part of that is that I don't feel relevant, or interesting anymore. I KNOW this isn't actually true in my mind, but when all I can think about on a daily basis is work, eating, sleeping and repeating, and I'm too exhausted from growing a fetus all the time to be 'fun' it feels easier to just kinda disappear some. I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but I'm starting to think that is why when other athletes I know get pregnant they tend to fall off the face of the earth. You feel one dimensional and uninteresting, no one wants to hear about my baby, AGAIN, I'm not traveling to cool places and racing my bike with Olympians, and as a result I feel uninteresting and therefore kinda just recede.

It was especially hard when Belgian Waffle Ride weekend approached, and I was never asked to be on their podcast. I know this sounds lame, but I'm being honest here. The male winner from last year was interviewed, lots of other past winners were on the show, but I felt so crazy irrelevant never being asked to share my experiences and advice despite winning ALL 5 jerseys the last two years in a row. I can't race AND no one wants to hear my tips for winning, double wammy. Then the weekend came and went, I watched it all unfold on Instagram, I couldn't be there to defend my title, and it was just hard.
But you know what, if I can survive this roller coaster of emotion, joy and heart ache, I can do anything, so maybe I'll be mentally stronger after this baby is born if nothing else!

A well earned cookie after an 8 mile hike in Big Sur.
Gestational diabetes: that was a scare a few weeks ago that was both hilarious and terrifying when the dr office called to inform me I had failed my 1 hour glucose test. I honestly laughed so hard when they first told me I might have diabetes because every day of school from February - June kids asked me if I wanted some gummy worms, a cookie, a Jolly Rancher, their chocolate... and every day I said 'I can't because I'm afraid of gestational diabetes' So the thought that I could have diabetes after turning down so many offers of sweets I really really wanted was pretty darn funny. A week later I was given a 3 hour glucose test and thankfully we passed that one and are in the clear, but wow, what a hilarious few weeks it's been. I'll be the first to tell you I don't have the perfect pregnancy diet, I eat cookies and ice cream a few times a week, I will indulge in a pastry for breakfast every once in a while, but MOST of the time we eat kale salads and spinach and as many veggies as possible, so I am quite pleased to be able to continue this less than strict diet that lets me enjoy being on vacation a little. On the same topic though, when I first shared with the world that we may have gestational diabetes SO many women shared with me that they also had positive tests despite being super healthy and active, so if you have it or get it you are not alone, or at fault. I guess our bodies just don't understand what's going on sometimes and do wacky things to cope with the weight gain and demands of pregnancy.
The Croque Madame at Bree 'Osh Bakery I dreamed about for the last two months of school while patiently waiting to go on this road trip :) Not super healthy, but balanced out the Kale salad I ate for three meals in two days on the way north. 

A few days ago the GM of the Hagens Berman women's pro cycling team shared an article she wrote with cyclingtips.com about being an elite athlete and pregnancy and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading that at least one person in the world has had the same anxieties and struggles as me! She rode outside until she crashed, worried about calorie intake and even bought a baby heart rate monitor (I have WANTED this the whole pregnancy because I spent the whole 2nd trimester afraid the baby wasn't alive anymore), making me feel a little less like a crazy person and more like a person just trying to figure out the balance between an insanely active lifestyle and trying to grow a human. Thanks Lindsay for taking the time to reach out to me and share your experiences!!

Mom, kicking my butt in the pool, twice in one week!
And lastly SWIMMING! Everyone told me swimming would feel amazing, but I was just too busy all school year to make time to try it out. And besides that I had no idea where to go to swim/was hesitant to pay the price of joining a pool. BUT HOLY COW I've been twice this week with my mother, who swims three days a week and it has been an incredible experience. When I hike I get out of breath, worry about overdoing it etc but in the pool it's a simple rhythm of breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe that feels like a great workout but NEVER feels hard. It's moving meditation at it's finest, the only thoughts that pass through my mind are the breaths and the color of water and sky, water and sky. And all the while the added weight and changed shape of my body have absolutely no impact on the motions, my stroke, breathing and speed are the same as before the baby, it's miraculous! I even think I want to continue swimming after the baby is born since it felt SO dang good using both upper and lower body in a workout for once :)

So yeah, we are on a three week long road trip visiting family in Sonoma County and then continuing to visit good friends in Portland and then family in Seattle, and that's what's been going through my head lately. 8 more weeks of carrying this big belly around, and even though it may seem like I have more hardships to share about pregnancy than positives I promise I am loving every minute, every kick and every extra calorie I've eaten. Life has never been all downhill, and the new challenges we are facing are fun in their own unique, you only get to experience them once kinda way, and I love it!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Salkantay Trek Day 2: The Pass!

I woke up Tuesday feeling really good! Our guides woke us at 5am with coca tea (which I didn't really drink the first two days because I didn't really know it it was ok for the baby). After an amazing breakfast which featured banana stuffed pancakes I was much less scared of the amount of hiking/elevation in store for the day. Lexi opted to take a horse because the altitude was still really affecting her, but fortunately this was the last day where it was really bad.
Left: Our banana stuffed pancake breakfast with a side of bananas!
Below: The view of Salkantay glacier from the start of our hike on day 2. 

The day's hike started right out the door with ascent. We climbed a gradual fire road which turned into single track as it steepened. Our group seemed to all feel much better than the day before, and with a few quick stops to snack and regroup we soon made it to the halfway point which we all felt came too easily. We sopped to sit for a min and eat snacks (Bananas and Creme Bonk Breakers for the win!). The rest stop was at about 14,00 ft and there was a little house owned by a woman selling Gatorade, water and charging for the use of her bathroom. The best part was that she had a baby strapped to her back in the cutest way, little eyes peering out over the Manta, leaving me convinced that doing this hike pregnant was no big deal. That women was up here the whole time she was carrying her child and most likely didn't go to a hospital to give birth!

Above Right: Eating all the snacks at our stop even though I was still full from breakfast. Like I said before, the theme of the trip was eat, hike, eat, even if you aren't hungry yet. 

Below: Badass lady with baby selling snacks to hikers. 

 Post snacks we had two options: the longer, less steep route, called the seven snakes, or the shorter more savage, straight up route. Our group opted for the shortcut because the heavy donkey traffic on the traditional route looked obnoxious (the trail was pretty narrow so we would have to stop every couple minutes to let a train of donkeys past). Then Juan Carlos choose to make the steep route steeper by short cutting all the switchbacks! Somehow it wasn’t hard to keep up with our crazy fit guide though (he must have the best lungs and heart of anyone I’ve met, doing the trek over and over, often with no days off in between), and what I had feared would be a crazy hard if not impossible hike to the summit was over in the blink of an eye! Our whole group made it to the top an hour earlier than expected!

The best part was that Lexi arrived on horseback within minutes of us, so we all enjoyed coca tea and delicious ham and cheese sandos thanks to our kind Sherpas (who hauled the big thermos to the pass) took a bunch of pictures and listened to some more massive avalanches we couldn’t see because of the clouds. Somehow I have no pictures of the 'scene' at the pass, lots of people from all over the world, stoked to be standing around in the clouds after accomplishing what is probably one of the hardest physical feats of their lives, pretty cool :)

After another history lesson about Pachamama and the tourism industry and it’s impact on the landscape, we headed down off the pass towards lunch. The downhill was really fun (would have been amazing on bike), and lasted FOREVER. We walked and walked and walked and eventually got to an outpost with 1 sole bathrooms, to find out we were still 20-30 min away from our lunch spot. The hiking was nice though, time flew chatting with the Aussies about school, and the education system in both the US and Australia/how parenting has changed recently. I really enjoyed the company of our tour group, an unexpected favorite aspect of the whole experience that more than made up for the thick clouds that blocked out 90% of the scenery. What I could see was green and lush, fields of grass strewn with rocks covered in moss and red lichen. It was pretty magical.
Above left: the foggy view we enjoyed the whole way down. Above right: an example of what every rock looked like, bright red with some kind of lichen. 

Lunch on day 2 was one of my favorite meals of the trip because it included ‘condor wings’, chicken legs fried in corn meal. Right as we were arriving at lunch rain started to fall, and within minutes of us entering the lunch tent the rain started coming down heavily. Somehow we lucked out and the rain let up right around the time we finished eating and needed to head back out on the trail.

The reminder of the hike consisted of hours upon hours of downhill fire road, down out of the mountains into the jungle. The scenery changed a great deal, and so did the plants (I saw my first air plant in the wild!), flowers and sounds of birds and the rushing of the river to our right. Lexi and I talked and hiked and slid down the road and JUST as my feet felt they didn’t want to be in hiking boots anymore we arrived at the little town where our camp was located.

Above: Me and then Lexi on the very muddy/slick road, me with the jungle in the background, Lex with Salkantay in the background
Right: The first Bromeliad I've seen in nature

Once again we sat through happy hour of popcorn and tea and stayed straight through to dinner. Another 5 am wake up on day 3 had us in bed as soon as the nightly debrief was over and I slept like a rock after a long day that went way better than anticipated. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Salkantay Trek Day 1

Lexi and I only had 2 days of exploring Cuzco and getting a little acclimated to the altitude before our trek to Machu Pichu.
We woke up at 4am on Monday to get picked up by the trekking company Salkantay Treks in a big Sprinter van for the 3 hour drive to the start of the hike. It was dark for most of the drive and I tried to sleep, but I was too nervous about the physical feat ahead of us. At the orientation meeting the night before my nerves were so bad Lexi said they were palpable, I was a mess. Fear that hiking pregnant for that long, at that altitude would be too much had me a nervous wreck. I had tried to calm myself by focusing on the fact that it wasn't a race, and I could go as slow as I needed, but I was still a mess. 
Anyway, as the sun came up we (I, I think I was the only one awake in the van) got our first view of the incredible landscape around us. We drove through a beautiful canyon, on a road cut into the side of steep, verdant cliffs with Salkantay glacier in the distance. The van stopped at a town called Mollpata for us to eat breakfast, and then continued to the start of the hiking for the day. At breakfast we met and chatted with some of the others in our group of 12, all of whom turned out to be super rad, like minded travelers, none of whom were just in South American for just a week. It was cool to hear about all the places they had been and were going next, but it also make me pretty jealous haha. When we finished eating we had the opportunity to buy snacks and rain ponchos, and since this was the last town we would see for a while Lexi and I bought stylish plastic ponchos for 3 soles (about $1).
After about 30 minutes of driving post breakfast the van stopped at a pretty nondescript spot on the dirt road we had been traveling on, and we all piled out, lathered up in sunscreen and started hiking! 

Our tour guides Julio and Juan Carlos were incredible, stopping at the perfect intervals to talk to us about the trail, plants and Incas, but really I think they secretly knew we needed breaks. 

Unfortunately Lexie got pretty sick on the bus ride, but her pace kept us perfectly in check, and I was happy to stop catch my breath and soak it all in (Honestly I had to work hard to keep my competitive edge in check all week and I STRUGGLED on the first day. I didn't let it show because I wanted to appear to be doing fine, but the altitude and the hiking with a pack weighed down with 4 liters of water was tough. The rest of the week wasn't nearly as bad, but day one was HARD). The trail was narrow and rough at first, and I wished I had my mountain bike. After climbing for about 40 minutes we arrived at an old Inca canal that used to carry water from Salkantay glacier to Mollepata town. The canal was just one of many impressive aqueduct systems in Peru built by the Incas and I think this one spans 33km! Despite having glaciers and crazy high snow capped mountains the region is pretty aired so the Incas had to work hard to bring water to their towns for drinking, bathing, agriculture etc...
 So it's safe to say I learned a lot on this trip :) Above left: the canal was right next to the trail all day on Monday. Above right: the rugged, perfect for mountain bikes trail. Below: Julio, our lead guide, teaching us about how the Incas used grass to make rope. Julio and Juan Carlos are both Quetchan, and they weren't just super knowledgeable about the history of the region, but also proud of their heritage, which really added to the experience.

After a few hours of hiking we arrived at out settlement for the night, a collection of dome shaped huts with glass roofs (built so we could see the stars at night but it was super cloudy and somehow Lexi and I got our hut kinda steamy, so we saw no stars). The entry to the huts was pretty low and I definitely smacked my forehead into the doorway full speed while exiting the hut leaving a pretty big bump and sore spot for the next three days. 

At lunch none of us knew what to expect from our first real meal on the trip, so we devoured the appetizer, and inhaled the soup, just to be met with endless entrees served family style. The hardest part was wanting to try some of each dish, but not having the room in my stomach to fit it all in.  All the food they served us was beautifully presented, sourced locally, and every meal was healthy and contained tons of veggies. I would recommend this tour company for the food alone! We left lunch feeling uncomfortably stuffed and grateful for the hour break before our afternoon excursion.

I accidentally took a short siesta after lunch, kinda the only thing you can do with a stuffed belly after a morning of hiking. It seemed like a good idea a the time but I woke up slow and groggy for our hike to Humantay Lake. The path to the lake looked like a ski slope, straight freaking UP. Not wanting to be left behind I joined the group, even though I didn't really feel up for walking straight into the clouds with a starting elevation of 13,000ft. It turns out half our group was in the same shoes, and John from Wyoming was even experiencing yellow fever symptoms from the vaccine he received a few days prior, so I was in good company taking the hike at a stroll. Lexi was also still pretty affected by the altitude, but she went her own pace and even though she took a little longer to get to the lake we were all super impressed she toughed it out because it was a doosy of a hike. 
 Left: A random cow we saw on our way up, a nice complement to the breathtaking scenery.
Below: Some wildflowers that caught my eye. Lots of lupin which apparently the Incas used for milk and to make a flea shampoo for their guinea pigs!
 The climb kinda went on forever (it was prob 2 miles haha) and every time we thought we were near the top we would turn a corner and realize in fact there was still a LOT of climbing left. When we did finally reach the top the view of the glacier and lake took my breath away. Pictures can't really do it justice, something about the light filtering through the clouds that hugged the mountain, illuminating the turquoise water and vibrant green grass. Maybe all the hard work to get there made it more beautiful, but it was like magic, I could sit at that lake forever just taking it in.

 We took a ton of pictures, and then decided to hike around the lake to see over the cliff on the far left side, you know, because 1,000ft of elevation gain wasn't enough! From that cliff we got to see a pretty cool rainbow though, most likely caused by the mini waterfall at the mouth of the lake. Virga in the distance had us worried about rain, so after a quick lecture from Julio about PachaMama we started the hike back down. I think I enjoyed the conversation about the evolution of mountain bikes with Jen and John (the only others in our group from the US) as much as I enjoyed the constantly beautiful scenery. I love comparing notes about fun places to ride in the US, and got some good ideas from Jen for future road trips.
The tour company had a happy hour with chocolate and cookies, coffee and tea planned for us before dinner. We took a while to get down the trail because we were a bit worried about Lexie, the altitude really hit her hard and she was stumbling pretty bad when we got back to camp. We made it to the tail end of the happy hour though, snacked a bit and just stayed in the dining hall straight through dinner :)
I wasn't even a little bit hungry when the food came, but 'parental responsibility' (hahahah) to nourish the baby told me to eat anyway and the theme of 'eat all the food all the time even when you aren't hungry' was established. I think I gained 15 pounds during the week despite hiking 47 miles (which is ridiculous).
Despite the lake hike going better than I expected (esp with a groggy breathless start) at the post dinner debrief for Tuesday I got nervous again, day 2 was billed to be the hardest day, LOTS of elevation gain, topping out above 15,000ft, and LOTS of miles. We had the option to rent a donkey to ride to the pass, but I was worried I didn't have enough Soles to tip all the guides and chefs, so I went the cheap route and committed to hiking. With a 5am wake up time the next day we basically just went to bed after dinner, and were treated to pounding rain for most of the night (which sounds really loud on an all glass roof!!).
Happy Hour views of the mountain we were to climb on Tuesday.