After a couple of days in Cuzco, Peru, I headed off to hike the Inca Trail. I met my group and guide on Tuesay morning at the main square in Cuzco and we took a small bus ride through the sacred valley to where we would begin our trek. In total, there were seven of us hiking. There was a retired couple from Scotland, three guys from England together and another guy from Britain that was currently working out of Houston. We had one guide and 8 porters between us. Everyone in the group other than me had paid a little extra for a porter to carry most of their gear and sleeping bags, but I was having none of that. I can´t imgaine forcing another person to carry my things up a mountain. Being that I felt capable, I set out with about forty pounds of gear on my back. This definitely made me a little nervous since everyone else was carrying just a small daypack with a raincoat, camera and a few candy bars in it. Combine that with torturous tails of ¨dead woman´s pass¨ that we had to go over on the second day, and I was definitely concerned.
The first day was a pretty casual hike, about five miles maybe and the scenery was unbelieveable. The backpack wasn´t bothering me so I was definitely feeling better about the hike but still a bit nervous about the next day. Dead Woman´s Pass was what we would be climbing in the morning. The hike on the second day began at 11,000´ and headed straight up the mountain to about 14,000´. I took off at my own pace as I tend to always do hiking and quickly lost track of my group. In a bit less than three hours, I made it to the top where I was rewarded with partly cloudy skies and amazing views down both sides of the mountain. The rest of the group began arriving a half hour later and the last one and our guide, showed up about an hour later. This was plenty of time for a good rest and just to sit there and enjoy the mountain views. Everything around us was steep and green. In the distance, between the clouds, you could see mountains that were much higher and covered in snow. What an amazing place to be hiking, following the footsteps of a long lost civalization!
From the top of the pass, we all headed downhill to what was supposed to be the next camp site. We arrived around 12:30, all had lunch and decided we wanted to press on having nothing else to do that afternoon. From there, we headed to the second pass, not near as high as the first, but still a pretty good hike. We stopped at several ruins along the way and arrived at the next campsite late that afternoon. By climbing the second pass that day, it meant that our third day would be much shorter and easier, ending around noon at a small lodge where we could buy beer and sit inside for once.
Since we were now ahead of schedule, we were able to sleep in, no wake up call at 5:00 a.m., today we were able to sleep till 7:00. Quite a nice change. As usual, the porers awoke us with coffee, or tea at our tents as well as a bowl of warm watter to clean up a bit with. Not a bad way to start the day, although I hate the idea of being pampered in any form by anyone. Either way, I will take a cup of cofee no matter how I can get it out in the middle of nowhere. The day went without issue, although towards the end of the hike my shoulders were definitely feeling the weight of the backpack. We crested the third pass, had some amaizing views, checked out some more ruins and then as it was beginning to rain, arrived in the third campsite. There, we proceeded to drink a ridiculous amount of beer and entertained ourselves with about 50 hands of presidents and assholes. Not to bad the day before heading to Machu Picchu!
The final day of the hike was only about 2 and a half miles. We awoke at four for some coffee and a piece of cake for breakfast and set out on the trail so that we could watch the sunrise on Machu Picchu. Hiking as fast as I could in hopes of getting that one good photo, I arrived at the Sun Gate and had an amazing view in the morning light, before the sun had made it over the mountains. It is always amazing to see something you have seen so many times in photos. At the sungate, I realized this was not the place to be to watch the sun crest the mountains and wash the city with light. I quickly hurried down closer to the city and found myself fighting with all of the tourists who had taken the trains and busses to the ruins that morning for a good spot to take a photo. As the sun came over the mountain and lit up the city, I began taking photos. The digital ones look pretty good, but I definitely have higher expectations for my film camera. It was amzing to look out over a city this large that had remained undiscovered until about 100 years ago. With the views of the surrounding mountains and the sound of the rivers roaring down below, Machu Picchu would still be an amaing place to live. Probably would be one of the most expensive pieces of property in the world! It is easy to see why the Inca´s chose this place to live!