The most difficult part of the G&Q Railway construction was La Nariz del Diablo, or the Devil’s Nose.
Our goal was to hike to the top of the Devil’s Nose and camp for the night. We set out from Alausi in the mid-afternoon with three porters in red ponchos from the nearby Nizag community, each with a mule loaded with supplies. We also had Fabian, and Delfín with his wife, Fanny, as the expedition team’s cook.
Walking along the refurbished railway tracks of newly set ties from the U.S., and new rails and gravel, we came upon a small yellow engine of workers chugging along.
They stopped and gave us a ride. The friendly boss, or Jéfe, was from Columbia; José was also working on a “then and now” book of the railway before reconstruction and after.
Then we split off from the tracks and hiked on a path up the mountain, past harvested cornfields and into the sky. At the top of the Devil’s Nose, Fabian, Delfín, and Fanny set up our tents, and also a kitchen/dining room tent complete with table, stools, and a petrol stove.
One of the porters from the Nizag community brought along his daughter, Elisabeth, who had a sweet tooth for butterscotch candies.
Fanny, Fabian and Delfin produced an excellent dinner of fried bananas, green banana and yucca soup, a main course of mushrooms nested on zucchini, lupin beans and mixed vegetables, and a desert of hot, sweet tree tomatoes in a sauce.
Here is Sandy enjoying his meal in the kitchen/dining tent.
We built a fire outside, and Rodrigo roasted marshmallows while Sandy roasted some horseskull and bones he’d found on the hike.
The moon was shining brightly, along with stars, and we fell asleep to the sound of the water rushing in the Chanchan River far, far below, and wind bumping over the ridge of the ancient, sacred mountain.
In the morning, we awoke to charred bones in the dead fire, and a beautiful morning on top of the Devil’s Nose.
Our porters returned and we broke camp, and hiked out to Nizag. It was a most excellent adventure!