It rained until about 8am the next morning. And we just stayed in the tent until we couldn’t hear it tapping on the top of the tent. Ordinarily I love that cosy feeling, but we knew we had to keep going so we were pleased when it stopped. We packed up quickly. Everyone else in the camp seemed to be doing the same. We ate cereal bars instead of dealing with the oats and protein and all of the washing up that came with it. There was no loo at this campsite, so I had to find a bush. Living my best life. I snapped a couple of pictures of the campsite, as we hadn’t really paid any attention to where we were the night before. We also hadn’t spotted the lake the night before and it was literally right around the corner and the most gorgeous blue. It was just absolutely stunning and I was taking my time taking pictures and stopping. We had a river to cross and then set off climbing up a hill of rocks to get up above the lake.
When we got to the top, Rob said we should stop for a photo or two. This was when he got down on one knee and asked a very simple question in the most beautiful place in the world. I was shocked and surprised and then just so happy!
What was funny was that we were actually in a place where there was a tiny bit of phone signal at that point. It was also Rob’s sister’s birthday and we managed to send a text to her. We also filmed a video screaming ‘happy birthday!’ to her, but she didn’t get it until we made our way into the town the next day. We didn’t contact anyone about getting engaged, we just decided to keep it to ourselves for a little while. I had a pretty little piece of string tied around my finger and it was a nice little detail to spot when the path got hard.
We carried on up the path, knowing that we were closer to reading the top. At one point, we had absolutely stunning views over the town of Villa Cerro Castillo and we just stood and took it in. I actually remember having a moment where I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to go back to reality as I was actually enjoying just being out in nature with no wifi or social media. Then again, another part of me just wanted to be there in a hotel with a hot shower! There were more metal markers to help us to find our way. We carried on up the hill and the wind just got stronger coming at us from the side. It was getting colder, I was even knocked down by the wind at one point. But we were so close to the end! I scrambled back to my feet and eventually made it to the top, where I held on for dear life to get a photo!
Then came the descent. Aaahhh, I hated this part. It was difficult. We were slipping and sliding. My knees were hurting. I was swearing and getting annoyed. But it’s one of those seemingly endless physical challenges when you know that you just have to get through it. You cannot go back – it just has to be done. Sitting down wasn’t going to help. It took a good couple of hours to get down off the rocks – you can’t go straight, you have to zigzag down to get to the bottom and it just felt relentless.
Finally, we made it to the bottom and decided to just push on quickly to get to the next campsite. Our plan was to get there, have a late lunch and then carry on up to a place called Neozelandes to spend the night.
We got to the campsite and knew it was going to start to rain. I WAS DONE. I knew we were going to take an age to get to up to the Neozelandes campsite, so I suggested to Rob that we stayed here and skipped the last part. We knew rain was forecast and I remembered reading a blog post by a couple who had also skipped the last part and I just felt like I realised why. We either needed to add another day or we needed to let go of the need to “complete the whole thing”. Rob took a little convincing with this. He felt like we were quitting. For me, we had achieved so much and we had just got engaged that day and the camp was just so pretty that I didn’t feel like trekking all the way up until late, camping and then rushing back down at 7am the next morning. I wanted to enjoy the nature and camping side of this trip. I wanted to sit and have a cup of tea and cook and talk and reflect on the trip. I knew how he felt about finishing, but to me it didn’t feel like quitting. I just saw it as changing our plans. He eventually gave in, but I knew he would have liked to have trekked on. I promised to bring him back in 20 years to finish it. (I’m not sure if I actually meant it…!)
In the end, we set up under a tree above the camp near the river and brushed off our boots, made dinner and enjoyed time in nature. We reflected on the last few days and what we had achieved. It did start to rain a little. I didn’t want to leave the peace and quiet of the nature and I knew I wanted to do something like this again. It was one of the best trips I had ever been on. We fell asleep again quite early and again, slept really well on our final night before the final descent into town the next day.
Day 4 will be up tomorrow!