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  Field Notes From
Lost Inca Outpost

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Lost Inca Outpost On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Peter Frost

Lost Inca Outpost On Assignment

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From Photographer

Gordon Wiltsie

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Gordon Wiltsie (top) and Miki Meek


Lost Inca Outpost

Field Notes From Author
Peter Frost

Best Worst Quirkiest
    We were hiking up the slope of Cerro  Victoria towards where we believed the site to be, four days into our journey, after crossing two deep canyons. We had been feeling somewhat gloomy because a couple of the men in our crew who lived near the site had told us there were no ruins there.
    Suddenly, we came face to face with this huge Incan wall. We practically collapsed in joy and relief. We were jumping up and down like children. We learned later that the men thought we meant we were looking for big, important ruins, like Choquequirao. The experience of coming across that wall was just tremendous.

    We did not reach the main center of Qoriwayrachina during the first expedition, we only reached the eastern periphery of the site. But, from what we could see with binoculars, we were convinced something was there, and that there was more to be found west of Cerro Victoria. On the third day of the second expedition we reached a point where we could see the area where we believed the site was, north of the Rio Blanco canyon on the slope of Cerro Victoria. But we could see fires burning on the mountainside. I asked one of the crewmen what was going on. He said, "Oh, that's just our wives burning their fields to clear the land." It turned out that two of the men in the crew lived in that very remote place near the site. We asked if there were any ruins there, and they simply replied, "No."  So then our spirits sank. We figured that if these guys lived there, they must know if ruins existed. Nevertheless, we kept going, but I think the same thought was circulating in all our minds: A huge amount of time and money spent on this expedition, and all for nothing.

    We've had lots of crazy experiences with horses on these expeditions. On day one of the first National Geographic expedition, a mean horse kicked me. I had climbed up on a bank to take a photo while the horse was down below. I made some sliding noises as I came down, and he spooked. I looked up, and saw his head turned looking back at me with a mean glint in his eye and knew that he was aiming at me as he kicked. It was no accident.  I still have a dent in my right thigh where he hit me.  He left me limping for days.  After that incident we sent that horse off to the pack train with an extra heavy load.  On our second expedition a couple of runaway mules threw two expediton members on the way in, and on the way out, my horse slipped on a smooth rock going uphill, and we both came tumbling down. He rolled on top of me, and I broke a rib.  Nothing too serious, luckily.  Sometimes I wonder if saddle animals are worth the trouble, but then I think about the huge distances and the steep terrain, and I realize that you've got to have them.


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