Hello everyone, Blake here. After an enjoyable hike to Lago Churup, we spent a day gathering food and supplies. We went to the most amazing open-air market with stall after stall of vegetables, meat, and pretty much anything you could want. However, we did not buy our supplies there and instead opted for the supermarket. With the weight of our packs in mind, we tried to buy light foods - typical backpacking fare like spaghetti, ramen, and oatmeal. We decided to combine our Santa Cruz trek with another aclimitazing hike to Laguna 69 to save on time and money. Our bags packed for our long trek, we woke at 5 in the morning to catch our bus into the mountains.
After a windy 3 hour drive, we arrived at the trailhead for Laguna 69. Despite the ease with which I climbed to Churup a few days prior, I found this hike to be difficult. Annie led the way across a broad river valley with stunning cliffs and mountains on both sides. After a mile or so, the switchbacks up said cliffs began. We hiked up to and across a second mountain valley with even more amazing views and then up still more switchbacks until we reached Laguna 69. The water was the most insane color torquise and the lake is surrounded by tall cliffs with glacier runoff streaming down in waterfalls from the snowcapped peaks just above us. This was by far the highest Annie and I have ever been as the lake sits at 4600 meters or 15100 feet. After a long break we started our descent. Going down is always a pleasure, until it is not - you know what I mean. We stopped frequently to admire the views and take pictures and soon enough we were back at the trailhead. We asked the bus driver to drop us at a nearby camping spot called Yungue Corral and with the company of another hiker and a great many cows we set up camp for the night. It was lovely evening and the alpine glow of the mountains made an excellent backdrop for us to cook dinner. We called it an early night - it gets dark at around 6.30 here - and made ready for our big hike - Santa Cruz.