Published: December 2008/January 2009
Trekking the forgotten Andes
Culture: Deia Schlosberg & Gregg Treinish
Text by Lucas Pollock

Two years. 7,800 miles. No roads. That was how Deia Schlosberg, 28, and Gregg Treinish, 26, vowed to trek the length of the Andes. They had no idea what they were getting into. Beginning in Papallacta, Ecuador, the two Montana-based wilderness educators cobbled together a route of llama tracks, old Inca roads, and forgotten trade paths down the spine of the world's longest mountain range. It was an Andes few outsiders had seen before. For good reason: "We were lost the entire time," Treinish says. "Every time we wanted to quit, we were so far in the middle of nowhere that it wasn't even an option."

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So they kept going, two regular folks on a really long hike. They battled through bamboo forests, crossed trackless deserts, and humped over 16,000-foot mountain passes. They met people who had only heard about gringos and who still remembered the old paths, those of their ancestors, that wove through the Andes.

By the time they reached their final destination, Cabo San Pio, the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego, they had seen pretty much everything. Then Treinish got down on one knee and proposed, solidifying a bond that typhoid fever, Patagonian bamboo, and tens of thousands of feet in elevation change could not break. The first item on the registry: moleskin.


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