This was such a great idea 8 months ago. A grand adventure, one amazing experience, the mystic, and the bragging rights…
But as I stood at the bottom of these rock stairs, catching up on my breath, I was filled with trepidation.
This was day two of our 4 day Inca Trail trek to the iconic Machu Picchu. We had been forewarned that this was going to be the most challenging day of this difficult hike.
By challenging, they meant insane.
The porters woke us up from our tents at 5AM. They wanted us to hike 11 hours that day.
By 6AM, we had eaten our breakfast and packed our day bag. The porters stayed behind to dismantle the tents and pack up the camp.
“Okay. Team. Now, we are going to climb up to reach the summit of this trail. This will take you about 6 hours.” our young mountain guide told us with a straight face, “It is all up, some parts will be very steep. You will need to watch your steps and use your poles.”
Our guide then added encouragingly, “You can do it! Anything is possible.”
This was not simply 6 hours on the stairmaster. These were uneven rock stairs. Lots and lots and lots of them. Some were very steep, all of varying height, and varying depth.
Then there was the murderous high altitude. There wasn’t enough air in our lungs just for standstill breathing!
We were climbing from 11,000 feet to the summit of 13,800 feet. To add to our joy, the mountain gods showered us with rain nearly all day. But there was one positive. The high altitude and rain made day two super cold. We were advised to not rest for longer than 2 minutes. We had to keep moving to stay warm. Awesome.
We reached the summit, a.k.a. Dead Woman’s Pass in under 6 hours. We were greeted with cheers and applause. Our mountain guide high fived us, as porters handed us hot coca tea and snack.
I’d like them to rename this pass to Awesome Super Woman’s pass instead. I felt like an Awesome Super woman standing at the top of the summit.
15 minutes later, our guide gathered us to continue our hike.
“We still have about 5 hours of hike to go. The first 3 hours, you will have some up, some down, and some flat. The next 2 hours are all down hill.” said our mountain guide.
We were so sick and tired of climbing up on the stairs, we cheered upon hearing the hike down.
It wasn’t long when I concluded that I didn’t much like the down hike either.
The rain had made the rocks slippery. Many hikers slipped and fell while climbing down. My 13 year-old fell down the stairs 4 times. We were fortunate and no hikers were seriously hurt on these rocky steps. The hike down required a great deal of mental concentration, and careful footing.
I just like the flat terrains.But these were scarce on the Inca Trail.
On Day 3, we only had to hike 6 hours. They said easy day, all downhill! You already know how I feel about downhill.
Our sore and shaky legs kept on the rocky descent.As we neared Machu Picchu, we could hear the whistles from the trains and can see the Machu Picchu town deep down in the valley. We also came across Llama traffic on our narrow path.
Day 4, they woke us at 3:30AM. We hiked with our troop with our headlamps on. They wanted us to arrive the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu before the masses arrive by train.
We arrived at the Sun Gate around 6AM, and found the Sun Gate covered in dense fog.We couldn’t see the Machu Picchu! No one was surprised. During our 4 day hike, we noticed that the fog came and went as it pleased on these mountains.
We sat and waited. 20 minutes later, the fog began to lift, unveiling the majestic Machu Picchu like magic.
We had arrived at Machu Picchu on a beautiful Christmas Day, feeling triumphed.
The journey itself was the destination, and this was our grand finale.
We were right 8 months ago. A grand adventure, one amazing experience, the mystic, and the bragging rights…