The day we wanted to leave Pampas, Coby (the dog who had followed us around 20k into Pampas the day before) was nowhere to be found. We were upset as we had been looking forward to having a companion. The whole town tried to help us find him. Then, a man came by with a puppy and said we could have her. First I thought it was a joke, but he was serious. Our doubts quickly disappeared as we cuddled her and played with her. How adorable she was. We spent the day making her a collar and thinking logistics; we could mostly carry her until she was big enough to walk all the way with us, which wouldn’t be too much anyway, roughly 60k/day or even less are we’re slow going in the mountains and on dirt. We called her Coby as well, the name was too good to be wasted. In the evening, surprisingly, Coby 1 turned up again for a few moments. We were confused whether we should give Coby 2 back and try with Coby 1 after all as he was older (perhaps around 7 months) and wouldn’t need to be carried. Aside from him disappearing again though we figured we could bring up and educate Coby 2 exactly the way we wanted as she was only about 2 months young and thus very mouldable. We were imaging us being the first fat cyclists travelling with a dog who we brought up and who would be our loyal guardian.
On the first day Coby was carried in our front pocket and then in Dan’s backpack which turned out a better fitting solution. She didn’t seem to mind and made herself cozy. The following days she walked a bit with us on the uphills as we were slow anyway. She would follow us no problem and on the downhill she’d go back in the backpack. She brightened up our days, but at the same time she is a puppy which means work. By the end of the week she mostly grasped “no” but started to bite more. We were worried she might get her teeth into our gear which is all we have and need. She also put on weight and carrying her was getting tough on Dan’s back, not to mention that we felt like she might outgrow the backpack soon and get restless and uncomfortable, sometimes having to spend hours tucked in there. According to a friend, it is even unhealthy for a dog her age to walk so much as the bones aren’t yet fully developed and it would take around another year or so for her body to support the strenuous exercise. At night she’d sleep wrapped in blankets in our tent’s vestibule and might have gotten cold up in elevation but we couldn’t let her in and risk her damaging our mats and sleeping bag. Crossing borders with her might have gotten complicated. All in all it seemed like travelling with Coby had been a great idea but reality is always more complicated.
One week after encountering Coby we made the heartbreaking decision to find another home for her in Pomabamba. It was hard to find someone as most people are after male dogs. Eventually Dan found a girl who fell in love with Coby and everyone around said her family would give Coby a good home.
We have wonderful memories with our little girl who might be the only puppy having travelled from Pampas to Pomabamba on/following a bike for a week, and we hope she will have a save and loving home for the rest of her life.
From Pampas we continued to the thermal baths (free unless you come in car or motorbike) by Cochaconchucos (there is a sign that directs you to the baths which are 2k away). From the there you can continue on a trail (brief uphill that required us pushing and then a very nice rideable downhill) that merges back onto the (asphalt) road to Conchucos. Ask for a dirt road to Siguas. You will have to climb up to around 4300m and a very “feo” dirt road brings you downhill to merge back onto a better maintained road. Go right, back uphill, and after crossing a river you will reach the small community Quingao where we camped in front of the church. From here it’s mostly downhill into Sihuas. A dirt road takes you out of the city along a river for about 10k. Cross the bridge and zig-zag up to Sicsibamba. There is a junction about 1.3k out of the town, go right to continue to Pomabamba.
To cross the cordillera we chose to ride from Yanama (very friendly pretty little town) to Yungay (expect to be surprised by higher costs). We didn’t realize that we were crossing a national park and that tourists apparently had to pay a fee on the Yungay side. As we only passed through and didn’t camp in the park they let us through for free (normally 10 soles per day or 65 soles for a 21 day pass)