The Bialetti sputtered on the stove and I raced over to rescue its contents. A map of Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash hung on the wall, in a mundane spot beside the fridge so I would look at it every day, committing its lofty passes and peaks to memory.
It was my goal to run the 130km route in a single push, no sleep. It usually took people a week to complete the circuit around this Himalayan-esque range, but I intended to do it in a day. If the slow and heavy “usual way” was to trekking as “siege style” was to mountaineering, I likened my single-push trail run to “night-naked”, light and fast, alpine style climbing. And I thought I would be the first to do it.
Cue an innocent inspection of the South America subforum on the Fastest Known Time message board when I came across this:
My dream of two years had been poached. I wasted no time bemoaning the situation or even considering trying to do it faster or unsupported; the whole point was to do a “first ascent” and that possibility was gone.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to visit this stunning area. I didn’t intend for it to serve solely as the backdrop for my egocentric ambitions. It possessed all of the components I identified as the “ultimate trail run”, but once I learned it had already been done, I wrote the whole thing off altogether. I can walk around this range when I’m in my forties, I reasoned, but now is the time for fucking sending.
I closed the window, turned the page, on hopes and dreams I’d built up over many months into something almost salvatory in stature. Running the Huayhuash wasn’t the only one. January drew to a close and the new year was already off to a melancholy start. I swallowed the last few drops of espresso along with any sense of certainty in my newly unbounded future, and began to contemplate Plan B.