At times, danger lurks around the corner. During one such incident, I clung to some stones. Beneath me lay a great void. Thank God I was not the last person in line. Alejandro came behind me and grabbed my hand. “You have to lift your lefts,” he said. The weight of my backpack pulled me down. I had no strength.
SANTA ROSE DE CALAMUCHITA, Argentina ꟷ As a housewife, mother of four boys, and merchant, I never even played sports. Then, at 54 years old, I became the first known woman to make the treacherous hike from Punta de Vacas to Tunuyán.
I began training at 47 for the crossing, which had not been achieved in 40 years. Alongside my trainer Alejandro, I prepared for the unmarked trails and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My accomplishment surprised me.
I always dreamed of living in the mountains and in my late forties, decided to move from Lincoln in the Buenos Aires province to Santa Rose de Calamuchita. My passion for nature made me feel something – like we have a place on this planet. I always wanted to swim across a lake, so I began training. There, I found a colleague who encouraged me to train for racing, and I bought a bike.
Through cross training, the opportunity for a great adventure arose. When I agreed to train for the crossing from Punta de Vacas to Tunuyán, I innocently underestimated the task. I could not imagine how complicated it would be, but my lack of mountaineering did not stop me.
Every day on the journey we faced difficult challenges. One day, we went up to Portezuelo. We ran out of water from 3:00 p.m. until 10:00 a.m. the next morning. At half past ten we found water to make breakfast. We had not eaten since the day before. The hunger became eclipsed by the indescribable thirst. Yet, the constant adrenaline rush moves you. You do not stop the body or the mind. The sensations you feel and the wonders you see seem immense.
At times, danger lurks around the corner. I recall ugly and dangerous falls. During one such incident, I clung to some stones. Beneath me lay a great void. Thank God I was not the last person in line. Alejandro came behind me and grabbed my hand. “You have to lift your lefts,” he said. Hanging there already proved challenging, but the weight of my backpack pulled me down. I had no strength.
“Let me rest for a minute and I’ll make the effort,” I responded. I stayed there, holding on to the rocks, asking God to give me the strength to life my legs. I did it and moved to safety. It was a very moving moment for me.
The environment often appeared hostile. Walking an unmarked path, any wrong step could cause you to slip and lead to misfortune. Yet, other moments left me in awe, like the immensity of waterfalls and the magical sound they made.
Nature, at every corner, invaded my body. The flowers and smells were like nothing you find anywhere else in the world. Still, the journey challenged me. The road became frustrating at times.
Fatigue and dehydration sometimes seemed fatal. At night, the cold increased so much, we took off only our boots, sleeping with all of our clothing and our jackets on.
On the last days of the trip, I felt incredible frustration and desperation. Though we saw the end in sight, getting there proved difficult. Time felt longer. I began making all kinds of concessions with the sky.
Yet me made it. I lost three and a half kilos (nearly eight pounds) in eight days, but I did it. I completed a hike that had not been done in 40 years. Without being a climber or having ever played sports, I became the first known woman to achieve the task.
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