The altitude was 15,000 feet and the effective oxygen level about 11.8%. Taking 20 steps seemed like a mile. The trek up the side of a glacial mountain was intense, with the peak still soaring another 6,000 feet above. My brain couldn’t think straight with the oxygen deprivation and dehydration taking over. Chewing la cocoa leaves in my cheek to abate altitude sickness, I pressed on to the shore of the Laguna. No one gets to this place by chance. You have to work for it. You have to want it.
The milky, turquoise water of Laguna 69 is mind-boggling, beautiful.
In the glaciers that clung to the mountain face, the tint of ancient blue water glistened when then sun shone thru the clouds. Water that is virgin, untouched, frozen in time for tens of thousands of years. It was a place in a fairytale, a place where magical things happen. With one exception, it was real. There are some places on this planet that very few people will ever see. You can’t take a tour bus or train to get there. You can’t pull your car over on the side of the road and snap a picture. Laguna 69, this is the kind of place that you have to work for. The journey was tremendous and worth every step.
Where did this remote and mysterious glacial lake get its name? In Peru, they do not name their lakes such as we do in the United States, they give them numbers. This is glacial lake number 69. We’ve cronicled our journey in hope that our readers can benefit from experience.
Laguna 69 Trek
It was an all-day excursion, our day started at the break of dawn to meet our combi ride downtown Huaraz. Just in case you didn’t read our previous article, be sure to take 3 liters of water with you for the journey. You will need it. We made the horrific mistake of not taking enough water along with us and I suffered tremendously with altitude sickness coming down from Laguna 69. Vomiting, nausea, vertigo and severe dehydration.
The combi ride dropped us off at the Laguna 69 Trailhead (as pictured above). The bus driver told us that if we were not back by 3:30 pm, we would be left behind. Kind of a terrifying thought (or not) and we were sure to obey. The trail is well groomed and well defined the entire trek. It’s steep in some places, but not too steep for most fitness levels.
We made some curious, four-legged friends along the way. At first, we were a bit concerned by the horns of the steer, but not to fear. I think they are quite used to us humans invading their grazing territory.
Here is the teaser lake that you think at first might be Laguna 69. At this point, I was so exhausted that I was hoping and praying this was the end of the trail. No, this is merely the 2/3 point on the way up. Nice spot to stop and take some pictures, with excellent vantage points in almost every direction.
Indeed, the last stretch of the trail beyond this point is tough for sure. By now, you are at an elevation of approximately 14,500 ft. Everybody responds differently to the altitude, no matter what your fitness level. Listen to your body and turn around if you can’t make it.
I highly recommend to read the featured article for trekking in the Huascaran National Park (if you haven’t already). There’s a bit more detailed information for acclimatization and Cordillera Blanca trekking excursions.
Check out our gallery of Laguna 69 images!
Micah Lyn is a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner HHP, Intuitive Healer and E-RYT 500 Certified Yoga Teacher registered with Yoga Alliance and KRI. She offers a variety of private yoga classes in Sedona AZ, yoga therapy and intuitive healing services at Pachamama Yoga ✨ Sedona Healing Center. Visit the YTT Programs & Workshops page to see upcoming Online & Hands-on Intensive Yoga Teacher Training, Virtual Online Yoga Workshops & Transformational Yoga Retreats featured worldwide.
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