Today the 2019 HWF expedition team entered the remote Q’ero territories. For the next 10 days the small team will meet with Q’ero village elders, discuss joint projects, and provide training and services in three remote villages in the Andes Mountains of Peru.
HWF board member Stacy Christensen (with hat) leads the expedition again this year, with a focus on service to Q’ero children and their families. Lizette Byer (left), Lisa Benham, and Mirinda Whitaker (right), all of Utah, will offer service projects in education, health and hygiene.
Walking Back in Time
The group is “walking back in time” where little has changed for centuries. These bold women are entering the highest habitable regions in the world — between 12,000 and 15,500 feet in elevation. There are no services, so the team must bring everything they need: sleeping bags, camp food, and emergency first aid supplies.
Training for Many Months
Our volunteers train for many months before hiking into the harsh landscape at high altitudes. They just spent the last week hiking steep trails in the Sacred Valley of Peru between 9000 and 12,000 feet to acclimate to the thin air in Q’eros.
Mirinda Whitaker describes several recent training hikes with her expedition companions after their arrival in Peru.
We felt the altitude while hiking to Punamarca archaeological site, taking lots of breaks and wandering the beautiful place. Our return hike took us on an ancient Inka road.
After a very steep hike to Nuapa Iglesia, we offered sacred coca prayers to Pachamama, our Mother Earth, in the traditional Andean way.
Our visit to Machu Picchu included a steep climb up to Huayna Picchu peak at 8,835 feet — the Inca “Stair Master.”
Our hike to Pisac site included another Inca “Stair Master” trail that took us from 10,000 to 11,600 feet in elevation.
A Tearful Embrace
We met with our HWF Peruvian representative, Bertha Ramirez Rozas, in her home in the Sacred Valley.
When we showed her our video about the 2018 expedition, Bertha and Stacy were both filled with emotion. The film reflects their tireless work together on behalf of the Q’ero people.