Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Day 1 begins with a knock at the door of our hotel room at 4:30 AM. It was Jon in his long underwear telling us he was not feeling very well… He had a rough night with upset stomach (gringo gut!). Patricia doctored him and got him ready to step on the bus at 5:30 AM to go to the trail head (Kilometro 82). The hiking day one was relatively short, starting at 10 AM, with lunch along the way and got to the camp site around 5 PM. The company Peru Treks was fantastic, we had 2 guides, one cook and 21 porters to support the 16 hikers (from USA, Ireland, England and Germany, ages 21-58, 4 women and 12 men). We had 3-5 gourmet meals a day and the porters set up our tents and the dining tent every day. We carried our sleeping bags, pads and personal items. Day 2 was the hardest in terms of climbing up to the Dead Woman Pass at 14,300 Ft. We had second breakfast half way to the climb and the reward of a beautiful day with clear skies so we could see both sides of the pass. Jon was feeling a little better and the gringo gut got another victim, Chris, age 29 from LA had a hard day but they both finished. The climb was hard but the month at high altitude made it easier for us. Patricia had the hardest time going down hundreds of Inca steps to the camp site because of left knee issues. It was warm when the sun was up but as soon as it hid behind the mountains it was freezing. We slept with most of our clothes on, gloves and hats inside the sleeping bags. Day 3 started with frost on the tents, it would be the longest day with three inca sites, two minor climbs, finishing in the last camp site near sunset. Jon and Chris were pretty well recovered, but Mike from Florida was having a hard time with one of his hip (he needs a replacement ASAP) but the guides were outstanding in supporting our wounded hikers and he also made it all the way. We descended into the rain forest to 9000 feet enjoying of the warmer temps at night. Day 4 started very early, waking up at 3:15 AM, since the porters had to take camp and get back to Cusco. We climbed in the darkness to the sun gate and got the first glimpse of Machu Picchu before the herds of tourists came in. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the site soaking it all in. We took a bus to Aguas Calientes where we had a nice lunch with cold beer and flushing real toilets (not holes in the ground where you have to squat and pray you don’t fall backwards into the mess). Took a train and a bus back to Cusco, and were happy to be back in our hostal with hot showers and a real bed (forgot to say we did not shower at all during the hike). The next day we caught a 20 hour bus to Lima (more stories to tell in person later). In Lima we packed the bikes in boxes we got at a bike store and we are now enjoying 2 days of leisure at sea level. Home in less than 2 days.