Ok so where to begin because it has been 4 days. Four of the most physically demanding yet beautiful days of my life. I will try to explain but this may be difficult.
We woke at 4:30 to have a crappy breakfast at the hotel at 5:30. Met our guides Marilyn and Fabian at 6. Then off to Ollantayambo to pick up 2 Aussie couples who would later prove their greater physical superiority....More of that later. Oh and there were also the two British girls from our previous Dragonman group, Megan and Kirstin.
Next we stopped to buy coca leaves and walking sticks and prepared to go through check in. Of course two tickets were missing....guess who's.....LOL They were with the other intrepid group so no big worries there.
We went across a little suspended bridge and then took a group photo at our starting point of the Inca Trail in front of the entrance sign.
Here is where the truth should be stated....we totally underestimated the altitude, mental and physical strain and the true test of character that the INca trail would challenge....In other words....Imagine running up and down the empire state building steps for 4 days straight while breathing through a pillow...or perhaps doing a marathon with only one working lung, two feet full of blisters and a bloody nose...oh and an annoying girl who you would rather push off the cliff then listen to her say another word.....Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh I digress....Really aside from all that it was FUCKING AMAZING!!!!!
So the first day was do-able but still quite strenuous. We started at 8.2 Km at an altitude of 8,528 feet or 2,600 meters. We ended and camped at Hatuchaca which was at 9,646 feet. Now there is something you should know about the Inca Trail if you don´t already.... It is not a straight climb up to the top to Machu Picchu....It is actually up and down and up and down and up and down ....(Peruvian Flat) and Machu Picchu is not the highest point of the trail......
We had a cook named Walter, his assistant chef William, Head Porter named Willber and 12 other porters for the 10 of us including our two guides. The food they served was the best food I have had in all of Peru in the last two weeks. They even made a birthday cake with icing for that girl I wanted to push over the cliff..... Quite impressive! Plus they just made us all look like fat, old cows who could barely walk with the way they sprinted up and down the trail carring 5x what we did....The regualation now is no more then 18 Kilos- 45 pounds.
Our tents were warm with sleeping mats and always ready when we arrived.
Day 2 (SHEER HELL DAY).....................
Ok for you to understand what this day was like let me try to do my best to give you some numbers and names. This day we were to climb up to the first Pass and back down before lunch and then do the 2nd after lunch.....
So we start out at 9,646 feet and climb the biggest stairway to heaven I have ever seen in my life to reach Abra de Warmi Wanusca, translation from Quechua- Dead Woman`s Pass at 13,776 feet. When we finally did reach the top I was so moved by the sight, the pain, and the accomplishment I literaly cried.....But wait now we had to go down for lunch....yea lunch there was more to come even after that..... (Almost there.....2 more hours...your almost there...... another hour.....your almost there) And let us not underestimate the process of going down hill.....yea you may be able to use your lungs again in an orderly fashion that doesn´t make you want to poke a pen in your throat for extra oxygen.....but alas down hill for 3 hours straight can be like drilling a hole through your knees.... (Ok I wasn´t prepared)! So after decending about 1,000 feet for lunch to 12,464 feet it was time to go back up again...YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Suck it stairmaster!!!!! Where was the Inca Trail setting back at the gym????
Second Pass back up to 12,916 feet.....nice lake some more ruins and then.......you got it back down but not reallythat far just a few hundred feet. Now all this up and down you would think we were travelling around the frig,n world and back but actually the distance was only about 35 KM.....=-)
Camp with Puma Killer Mosquitos...what are those you ask???? They look like gnats and bite like mosquitos...fun I am hoping customs lets me back into the country because one look at me and you would think I have small pox or some other fun jungle disease.....but we survived day two and worst was behind us. I want to say that even though I am being silly or this sounds like I was miserable the whole time I wasn´t......... all the time......just some but it really was worth it.
Day 3 (There goes my knees)
Oh it started so lovely with gorgeous views atop mountians to the 3rd pass- a walk in the park compared to the day before. WE were going to be fine today....... After the beautiful view at the 3rd pass at about 11,772 feet it was down hill to lunch and then the rest of the day was free to relax.......ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Oh wait there goes my knee so going down hill turned into a 4 hour production of me with my Knee and Megan (the Brit I like) with her bad hip...hobbling down the mountian with our walking sticks while Thom kept our guide Fabian from being bored by checking out every Peruvian orchid. So then as we are hobbling down the mountian to get to our final campsite located at 8,829 feet so ya know it was only 2,000 feet.....these lovely bees decided to keep us company....how nice. They really loved me and while I knew they didn,t sting or bite the constant buzzing in my face and ears was enough to make the temptaion of throwing myself down the cliff a reasonable option. Alas....we made it again and the next day was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
It's me, Thom now so the style might change a bit but bear with me while Kelly is uplaoding some pictures to Facebook....
For dinner that night (it would be our last - with the porters NOT for the remaining parts of our trip) we had a feast fit for Pacha Pappa (Holy Mountain god)!
As we feasted we prepared a song which we were to perform for the porters as a sign of friendship and thanks for ALL they had done for us. We ate and prepared our song and Fabian folded many varieties of Oragami, which he gave to each of us as his good bye gift. Aftr the meal we all gathered together, we sang our song, the porters sang a song for us and we huddled together for a group photo - great fun - now...
To BED - 4:30 wake is not far off!!
Day 4 (the HOLY GRAIL)
Both of us in pain (did we mention that I, Thom, had developed two quarter sized raw blisters on the back's of each heel?) but determined to complete our "pilgrimage" we joined the waiting line to climb to the Sungate, Inti Punku, where I was going to let out a well guarded plan that was some 9 months in the making - and yes like gestation, the final delivery would have prove to be a bit painful...
We arrived at Inki Punku in time to see the sun clear teh mountains in all of it's splendor...
Unfortunately there were many others around, no real PRIVACY but...
I took the moment that was presented and unveiled the ring! Not the best delivery or place but the secret was NO LONGER!!! We walked and talked and she said YES!