This Project is supported by a generous grant from the
Dan and Betty Churchill Exploration Fund
June 15, 2005 to July 14, 2005
Field work in the Alturas de Firura
On the 3rd of July we made the trip up Nevado Firura (5,498 m). What aerial photos from 1955 show as a snow capped peak is now a maze of scree and boulders, though a glacier still flows from the southern cirque. From the summit, which is guarded by large blades of snow called penitentes, it is possible to view our study area in its entirety and we took this opportunity to theorise the most probable migratory routes Paleoindian populations might have taken between the coast and the obsidian sources to the north of Nevado Firura. It is also possible from the summit to make out the glacial limits on the southern side of the mountain, an area we were unable to survey for lack of time.
At 8am on the 4th of July, Ermitano, Fabian, and their mules turned up, and we swiftly broke camp, eager to get the 30+ km return trip underway. Being acclimatised this time, we made exceedingly good time across the plateau, following what we now think is part of the Inca road.
Today (5th July) we arrived in Mauca Llacta (which in Quechua means ‘Old Town’), a seasonal village similar to Capilla but larger and distinctly more populous. It is thronged with llamas, alpaca, and children, while barking dogs provide the evening chorus. We’ve been permitted to sleep in a barn next to the medical centre, and have just enjoyed am intense eating binge of biscuits, crackers, and the worst soda in the world . It’s sunny and the nights are warmer down here, and, although I’ve run out of teabags, we’re all very good-humoured.
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