Hiking the Inca Trail
As we woke up on Day 2 of the Inca Trail, I lay there in my mummy sleeping bag tightly zipped to ask myself the question, “How on earth did I get to this point in my life?”
I’m short of breath before I start moving for the day due to the altitude and a wave of worry washes over me because I know that on this day, we are going even higher. As I move within my sleeping bag, my legs just plain ache. The worry intensifies because it is an 11 hour hiking day.
I look over to discover that Maxwell is no longer in his sleeping bag, but rather outside of it in running shorts. I am fully zipped in my sleeping bag with pants and a sweatshirt on. We could not be any more different went it comes to our temperature regulation.
We eat a large breakfast and have a lot of tea to get us motivated for the day. The wake up call is early, roughly 6:00am which is infinitely better than the previous day’s 3:45am wake up call.
The group starts the hike and it is a steep grade. There is no way around it- it is steep. At this point in the trail, it is no longer much dirt, it is giant stone pavers. These giant stones create steps.
As I breathe deep for as much oxygen as possible, I realize we are going to be climbing stone stairs for around 4 hours.
As you can see in the pictures above, the scenery has changed from a desert/scrub to a much lusher forest. There are small creeks flowing through that all lead back down to the Urubamba at some point. Giant prehistoric looking trees create a tunnel that transports you back to a different time. Looking at every stone on the path, it was hard to imagine how long it must have taken to create this path. So many important people laid these stones and then walked on these stones- I continue to ask myself the question that I woke up with.
About halfway to the peak of trek up, there was a small oasis. This oasis was a llama farm. I love animals and weep 95% of the time when there is a large mammal nearby so this was the boost to morale that we (mostly I) needed. And The Emperor’s New Groove is a secret Disney guilty pleasure of mine so I was overcome with joy for some moments.
Getting spit at and the baby llama were the highlights. I loved all of them.
There are no photographs in between the llama farm and the Dead Woman’s Pass which stands at roughly 14,000 feet. The view was beautiful but it was debatable if it was worth the beating my lungs (and legs) took to get there.
I should have known that what goes up… must come down. Maxwell and I thought that the hike up was hard but we were quickly informed by our legs that climbing down for 2 straight hours was actually worse. Though our lungs were happy because of ever increasing oxygen, at this point our legs and spirits were a bit wrecked. Tears ensued and I wanted to quit the entire time.
Once we got down to the lowest part in the valley, the group had lunch. I say ‘the group’ but it did not include Maxwell or I. We had reached the point where our bodies didn’t think the physical exertion nor lack of oxygen was funny anymore. I vomited several times and had to lay down. Maxwell was nauseous and the thought of eating was too much for him to bear. If you know Maxwell at all- you know that if he is not eating, he is truly sick.
The time came to gather our things to go for another peak of 14,000 feet. I was put on the oxygen tank which helped open up my chest. For a brief moment, it felt normal again.
It was a 2.5 hour hike straight up again and there was no way that Maxwell and I could keep up with the other couple. They went on ahead and our guide stayed with us and moved at a snails pace. I continued to be sick and Maxwell truly showed his love for me. He was beginning to feel better after drinking some water through his nausea and fed me water and crackers like I was a child. We took breaks every five minutes in which he catered to my every need. It is not often that a honeymoon previews what your lives together will be in the distant and elderly future, but this did. We did not speak to each much during this laborious hike back up to another peak, all I could muster was, I love you.
The hike up was similarly beautiful and there were ruins along the way again. Once there was water and some sustenance in our bodies, we were able to manage to take some photographs.
As we reached the next summit, it was time for more oxygen. As I was on the mask looking as pitiful as ever, Maxwell takes a picture stating, “You’ll appreciate this later!”
Okay I guess I do appreciate it…
As we began our descent into the campsite for the day, the sun set and the trail became dark. Walking on ancient stone paths with heavy vegetation around us on the side of mountains was not safe. Some of the porters for the tour group came back to meet us along the path and helped shine light along the path and brought us some tea for a little more motivation.
When we reached our campsite, I cried happy tears. Dinner was ready for us- Maxwell ate his fair share and I kept it light. I literally fell asleep at the table on Maxwell’s shoulder and then went to bed. Before Maxwell even turned off the light I was sleeping. What was supposed to be an 11 hour hike, turned into 13.5 hours with no food. It was time for sleep.