The White Lake
A visit into the most western nascent of Amazon River.
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Written and photographed by
Special to FACTORTIERRA.NET
EL CARMEN DE LA FRONTERA, Peru
- The mountain range will ever fascinate us by many motivations: the
solids' majestuosity, the landscapes, the cool climate, even the
culture. Perhaps it is about that fascination of feeling us closer to
the sky, at least for we who feel it so.
I love the
mountain range - I am learning to love it. If all would depend on me,
I took every time I get to come here, breathe pure
air, enjoy around.
I already declared I am an activist
of of this kind of spaces, so the coherent will be ever coming
here as much as I can, like right now. I am in a car going up
from Huancabamba City because my today's task is reaching the Shimbe [pronounce "Shimbeh"]Lake, origin of Huancabamba River, and if we look at the map, the most occidental nascent of Amazon River.
Shimbe or White Lake (Laguna Blanca in Spanish), which meaning nobody precises to me (it could be belt in quechuan, and dove in Caranqui),
is located 3236 meters or 10616 feet altitude, 40 km or 25 mi
away the north of Huancabamba , what is 215 km or 134 mi to the east of
City by land. Although bare-eye it seems to be the largest of
Huarinjas or Huaringas Lakes, tehre is not available data about its
volume. The only sure is that due to its altitude, it is already part
of jalca [pronounce "halka"¡ or Piura's moor ecosystem, that begins at 3000 meters or 9843 feet.
there is one
hour by car from Huancabamba to Guar Guar. It is a jump-up, 900
meters or 2953 feet approximately, as FACTORTIERRA.NET calculated
during a field assignment in 2009. The cloudy forest ecosystem ends at this location.
The jalca as well as the clody forest are key for water generation in the entire Piura region and the north of Cajamarca
Region. The humidity ascending from Pacific Ocean (west) and the Great
Amazon Plateau (east) as well shocks here because those peaks are
the lowest along Andean Range - not upper than 3900 meters or 12795 feet altitude.
snow-covered mountains, they create ssuch moisture, wwhich is absorbed
by the existent vegetal cover-up, kept underground,and deposited
in lowest parts due to the terrestrial gravity. That explains the lakes. And that also explains the cold.
of the vehicle ends here and our choices are to go walking or riding.
There are still two hours of remaining trail from Guar Guar to Shimbe.
postcard someone gets is the typical Andean rural village with
disperse little houses, smoke on the roofs, and a combination of
all-type cars & pack animals. But if that one look most
carefully at the trees around, will notice indications of
cut-off. some locals will confirm it to me further, and that is a
problem because if you take off the trees from the roots, you weaken
the soil. When the rain comes down, the damage will be more
evident because it will accelerate the erosion.
Again - let's remember this is a mountain range and slopes are abundant wherever you see.
We decide going
by a beast next to a guide, and it will be necessary because there are
no signals on the way. The last one has left some steps behind in Guar
Guar. However, the path is well-conserved... at least to my taste, what
uses to have hard physical workout sessions indoor and outdoor aswell.
Due to altitude,
the nor-acclimated people will feel the air lacks during the
climbing, an almost unperceptible climbing but climbing. Let's
remember if FACTORTIERRA.NET estimations are correct, they are
about 400 meters or 1312 feet more going up.
we are ahead on
our way without any trouble. The guide tells me he would like having
some project in his town that allow him to superate the poverty. "why don't you crop vegetables?," I ask. "Who crops vegetables?," he replies to me. "Me," I ssay him, remembering my home orchard in Chulucanas, where I live, another of my hobbies.
As we are going forward, the forest becomes thinner and bushes with fanky twisted trunks predominate: queñoales. On the soil, the natural big and hirsute grass transforms in a harder straw: ichu. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to jalca.
up a little hill, a mountain range appear in the background, Huamaní
Range actually, where all Huarinjas are located, and a kind of cliff at
the right side. We are going up from south to north. As we follow
more on the north, the lake begins to be visible, like it were a
silvered water tongue.
The guide stops
us and says it is the moment to request permission for entering
the Shimbe's home. "Did you bring Florida water?," he asks. we see each
other surprised-face. Nobody warned we should come prepared that
way! However, the man realises we carry fruit and tells us the
spirit of the lake also appreciates the aroma of limes and oranges a
we make our
offering by orientating it to the Four Cardinal Points, those are easy
to identify here: the lake at north, the path we have ridden at the
south, some mountains at the west, a kind of pretty-singing ditch
at the east.
"It's not a
ditch but Huancabamba River," the guide clarifies. Well, every river
borns basically like a humble ditch, doesn't it?
will realise that, holding the same orientation, the river borns
at the right corner of natural reservoir, that means the southeastern
extreme. And that ditch forms Amazon River later? OK. OK.
Not a ditch but Huancabamba River. Do not argue. I hate arguing.
entrance ritual, we go on and my emotion grows up and grows up every
step ahead. And suddenly, I feel I belong to Nature, as I were one
within. I could not describe it. It is just felt, that's it.
Finally we reach
the rim. I thank God for the trek, for being safe. Along that rim, some
people undress for going into the lake as part of their healing
processes. It is said that Shimbe has medicinal power. I do
not think to discuss if that is scientifically plausible.
The energy is evident.
"Are you going
to get into the water?," the guide asks me. I do not mind stripping
down but it is ever good a little trial, just in case. I take off
my shoes and put my feet into the rim...My God! This water is not cool,
it is frozen!
I'm sorry. I
love Nature but I am also very frightening, so I only finish to wet my
feet and my head, while I make my wishes. Many people assure me this
little water is miraculous, and I have faith that is true.
if people would use the trash cans for putting the trash into, and
those had some maintenance, the picture would be perfect. The
majesty of this site deserves we care at the most those
details because of simply respectful perspective to the place and
Half-an-hour later we return .
People say that
shimbe favors are constant as much as you also visit it constantly, and
guess what - I want to come back as soon as I can.
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