The Inca Trail

Here’s the long awaited update 3.5 about the Inca Trail.  Sorry I haven’t
been in touch for a while, but I’ve been a bit busy.

Was the Inca trek the hardest thing I’ve done?  NAH…no where close.  Sure
I had my moments, but the hardest physical and mental challenge would still
have to be that bloody Round the Bay in a Day – the year it poured with rain
and I was praying to God for my bike to get a flat tyre so I could catch the
bus home.  I think everyone on this email list could easily do the trail
(well maybe not Mum and Dad) and most of you could do the 8 day version.

The biggest problem our group had was the attack of the dodgy tummy.  We had
visited the Sacred Valley the day before and stayed the night in
Ollantaytambo.  We awoke the next morning to find out that two of the girls
had been throwing up and running to the toilet all night.  One of the girls
was supposed to be doing the trail, while the other was supposed to catching
train up to Machu Picchu.

The one doing the trail was a tough little Irish girl and she was determined
that a dodgy tummy wasn’t going to stop her, but less than a hour into the
trek she had to be taken back to Cuzco and was so weak they had to call a
doctor.

Luckily I didn’t have any tummy problems.  The thing stressing me out was
the 5kg limit we had on the duffle bag of stuff we could get the porters to
carry.  I had all these thermals and in the end had to limit what I was
taking because they were weighing our bags.

DAY 1 – THIS IS AS EASY AS ABC

Day 1 started off with rain.  I had my full wet weather gear on, but in 30
minutes it had stopped and before long I was down to my singlet top and was
applying sunscreen.  Actually on day 1 I managed to get sunburnt on my
shoulders.

It soon became apparent that doing the Inca Trail was luxury camping.  There
were more porters than people in our group.  We would plod along while the
porters ran in front of us and would set up a tent for lunch and cooked up a
big meal of soup, rice, meat, pasta and veggies.  Then they would run ahead
again and set up our tents for us so we could have an afternoon nap after
our walking.  Then we would get up for afternoon tea, usually popcorn,
before another huge meal for dinner.  Then we would play cards before
heading off to bed.

The walking on day 1 was fine.  A few uphill sections, a couple of downhill,
and a massive uphill section to the campsite.

By the end of day 1 we had another girl down with a dodgy tummy.

DAY 2 – MY BRIGADOON MOMENT

We were awoken on day 2 to our porters shaking our tent and offering us a
cup of tea or coffee.  I had frozen overnight.  All I could think about was
the thermals I had left behind in Cuzco.  My sleeping bag might be okay in
Aussie conditions, but it didn’t cut the mustard at altitude.  It is
supposed to have a rating of minus 2 comfort and minus 7 extreme, but I
think an eskimo who is used to the cold must have come up with those
ratings.  I slept with in a thermal bottoms, long pants, woollen socks, a
thermal top, another thermal top, a windbreaker vest, a fleece, woollen
mittens, and a beanie and was still bloody cold!

Day 2 is mainly a day of climbing.  I had purchasing a walking stick at the
start of the trek which was quite useful.  Day 2 is when you climb to
Warmiwanusca or ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’.  Is it hard? Nah, you just get into a
huff and puff grove that you can maintain.  (I think my huff and puff was
the loudest of anyone on the climb.)  The last part is perhaps a little soul
destroying.  You think you are at the top and you round a bend and see all
these bloody steps…  It was at this point that another girl in our group
had a crying fit.  I was actually a lot better at the uphill compared to
going down.  I think I was about 4th out of our group to make it to the top
of the pass.  We all sat up there and cheered everyone in our group as they
tackled the last of the steps.

We then headed down the other side of the pass.  I was completely left for
dead on the downhill section.  My poor knees just didn’t like the steps.  I
was also slow because it was a bit damp and I was worried I would slip.  I
soon found myself walking alone with only a lady with worse knees than mine
and our guide somewhere behind.  It was a bit depressing, so to keep myself
going I started dreaming of my nice dry tent and the popcorn that would
hopefully be waiting for me.  It was so annoying because I could see the
campsite below but it was taking me so long to get there.  Then the bloody
fog or cloud rolled in and the campsite disappeared from view.

It was at that point that I had a little Brigadoon moment (for those who
don’t know the musical Brigadoon this won’t mean anything).  I started
laughing hysterically at the thought that the campsite wouldn’t be there
when the cloud lifted.  Then I passed a waterfall and suddenly I needed a
toilet.  I was just contemplating heading off the path to do my business
when I heard voices through the mist, and before I knew it I was in the
middle of the campsite.  Just in time for popcorn…

Even the girl with the tummy problems had beaten me back to camp.  Although
by day 2 she was feeling better and had passed the curse of the Inca tummy
to her boyfriend.

DAY 3 – SNOW ON THE HILLS

It had poured raining overnight and it was still raining when we woke up.
We piled on our wet weather gear, and when we finally ventured outside our
tents we saw that there was snow on the passes we had walked by the day
before.  The rain cleared after walking for an hour or so and we were soon
applying sun block again.

Day 3 has the most stunning scenery.  It was absolutely beautiful.  Actually
it was amazing how often the scenery changed on the trail.  Because of the
rain we were actually walking on paths that were little streams of water and
I was grateful for my boots.  Some people were walking in runners and their
feet would have been soaked.  (Thanks Leanne for the two pairs of socks
suggestion.  I forgot on day one and had the beginnings of a blister, but
when I swapped to 2 pairs of socks I was fine.)

The last part of day 3 was again downhill and I was once again left for
dead, but there was something kind of spiritual about walking along by
yourself past this amazing scenery.

The reward at the end of day 3 was a shower.  You had to pay and there was a
cue, but it was worth it to get clean.

DAY 4 – SNORING AT MACHU PICCHU

We had to get up early on day 4 to get in line to leave the campsite.  For
safety reasons they don’t let people walk the last part until after 5am,
and it’s basically a race to get to the Sun Gate to watch the sun beam it’s
first rays over Machu Picchu.  We were lucky to get to the Sun Gate and have
a clear morning.  Often Machu Picchu is covered in mist and cloud.

We did the photo thing before our guide gave us a tour of the site.  They
don’t really know a lot about Machu Picchu.  All they have is theories and
it was funny to hear all the guides telling different versions.

After the tour I wandered around for a while, but it was sunny and I was
very sleepy, so I found a nice grassy section with a rock that gave me a bit
of shade and lay down to have a sleep.  Nat who was nearby said I started
snoring straight away.  Fancy coming all the way to Machu Picchu to snore!

So that’s the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu story.  Will email shortly with
the next update.

Lots of love
Alison

CIMG0858

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