Pete Casey showed great strength in mind and body. His journey through South America was extended by several years. What are the further plans of the traveler? Piotr Chmieliński asked him about this and not only.
Pete Casey is well known to our readers. A few years ago, the Briton decided to fulfill his childhood dream and set out for the Andes. However, the mountains were not the main destination of this unique journey to South America. Casey went on his way continent crosses from the mouth to the source of the Amazon River† Importantly, he relied solely on the strength of his own muscles.
It took exactly six years, five months and twelve days to reach the source of the largest river in the world. Almost three times longer than originally planned. However, there were no obstacles that prevented him from achieving his goal. During the expedition he struggled with infections and weakness. He was also robbed several times. An additional problem was the COVID-19 pandemic. A lockdown took place in Peru.
In May 2022, he reached the source of the Amazon River, to Lake Ticlla Cocha, hidden in the Peruvian Andes. He climbed the volcanic peak of Nevado Mismi with an ice-snow cover. The descendants of the Incas believe that it is a sacred mountain from which the first drops flow down, creating the largest river in the world. The traveler was accompanied by Piotr Chmieliński and Zbigniew Bzdak on a walk through the headwaters of the Amazon.
Piotr Chmielinskic† Your long journey is slowly coming to an end. I remember you wrote at the beginning of your journey that you plan to reach the place where we will be in three years maximum – Ticlla Cocha Lakes, the constant source of the Amazon (the river also has a seasonal source, from from which the water flows continuously only in the rainy season – ed. author). Surprisingly, it took more than six years. You don’t believe yet that you have finally reached your long-awaited destination.
Pete Casey: This is an extremely emotional moment. I’m very, very excited. In a way I feel honored to have achieved this goal. I sacrificed almost everything to do this. The price and risk were enormous. But it was worth it. I don’t regret that time or effort. And I never gave up hope that I would make it.
Achieving the goal should be a great satisfaction. What makes you happy and proud? Achieving a goal, being so persistent or something else?
I think persistence and patience resulted in a longer than expected journey. It has become more addictive. She rewarded me with knowledge and experience that I would never have gained had I rushed or given up. It turns out that the journey itself is more important than the destination.
What impression has Lake Ticlla Cocha had on you, where we are and what is the source of the Amazon River, the destination of your trip?
I am surprised how crystal clear and cold the water is. And how beautifully Nevado Mismi is reflected in it. It’s great to finally get here.
“But I noticed there was something bothering Pete about Ticlla Coch.” With a laugh, he told me about the obligation Dawid Andres put on him during their meeting a few months ago – says Chmieliński.
As a reminder: Dawid Andres and his brother crossed the Amazon by bicycle. The two travelers not only broke their bicycles on their backs up to 5,150 meters above sea level to put them on the shores of TicllaCocha, but also took a bath in this icy lake.
Pete Casey: It was easy to promise that I would also take a bath in Ticlla Cocha, when I was several hundred kilometers away from the lake and it was warm around me. Now I’m wondering how I’m supposed to not get into this icy water and not have a heart attack.
As a last resort, the bath was limited to soaking the legs.
You have also decided to climb to the top of Nevado Mismi – the historical and symbolic source of the Amazon – to reach your goal.
Climbing the top of Nevado Mismi and finding yourself on the line of the continental divide is a unique experience. I was eager to climb the mountain where the water from the melting glacier flows into the lake in preparation for the long, long journey to the Atlantic. It is a great satisfaction to have reached the geographic source of the mighty Amazon. I can almost smell the Pacific Ocean. I also feel like I’m on my way home and all the hardships are behind me. Summit day got even better thanks to the unexpected support and company of several other people, including yours! Plus, I’m happy that my body can stay at a height I’ve never been before.
The rock on which Piet sat on top of Mismi has an extremely symbolic meaning for him. It divides the continent in terms of two major bodies of water. It thus connects two important points of its journey. On one side you can see the Carhuasanta River and the Atlantic Ocean, where it came from, on the other side, the Colca Canyon and the Pacific Ocean, where it still goes.
Judging by his face, climbing Nevado Mismi was even more exciting for Pete than reaching Ticlla Cocha. And at the same time perhaps a little nostalgic, reflective, summarizing, provoke a moment of reflection. Something has just ended, but something new is beginning. Zbyszek Bzdak and I were honored in a way that we can participate in this breakthrough moment for Pete. An equally wonderful experience for us was the return to places and to the Amazon where we sailed for 6 months from the source to the Atlantic around 1985/86. From the source we were just near, Chmieliński reports.
Even though you have reached your main goal, your journey is not over.
I am now planning to go to the Pacific coast to La Punta near Camana. I estimate it will take about 3-4 weeks. This will be the end of my mission.
I still have a few logistical issues to solve before I leave Peru. This includes seeking money for a fine for extending your stay and for a flight to the UK. So I don’t think I’m going home right away.
Are you already thinking about what to do after the trip?
Sure, but without money most of the things I want to do won’t be possible. First of all, I have to deal with the donations received. I will also try to put together a book, or maybe even a documentary, to share my experiences with others.
I also have bigger dreams, for example about building an eco-house in the rainforest. I hope that I have proved to the people who doubted the success of my mission that I can achieve my goal. I hope it opens some new doors, new possibilities for other ideas I already have in mind.
Has this journey changed your life and yourself in a significant way?
Of course it had a huge impact on my life. Admittedly, I feel a little uncomfortable returning to the UK in debt and I don’t have a home. Having to start all over again at my age will be challenging, a little scary but also extremely intriguing.
Besides, this journey will be with me forever, until the day I die. Everything I experienced during the expedition broadened the horizons of my mind, made me appreciate the simple things in life, things we sometimes take for granted, especially in the West. I am also much more aware of climate change and we are all globally connected to the Amazon. Knowing that it is an essential part of the Earth machine on which we all depend, then it must be protected and respected at all costs, especially for future generations.
See the latest post on Pete’s blog: https://www.ascentoftheamazon.com/2022/05/the-source-of-the-amazon/