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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Machu Picchu (Day 1 and Day 2)

Well, I've been home for a few days but wanted to write a little about the best hike I've ever done.

We started at Km 82 along the river and the train tracks. If we were optimizing, we'd follow the train tracks which are flat and takes us directly to Machu Picchu. Actually we'd be on the train. But no, instead we used our two feet, arms and sometimes a core to plow through 4 days of 8 hour a day hiking. 40 km, 26 miles and ridiculous elevation.

Day 1: Km 82 to Huayllabamba
Distance: 7.8 miles/12km
Elevation: 9,691 ft/2,953 m

The first day only involved about 4 hours of hiking and plenty of tasty food from the chef and the porters. It started off pretty flat with only one little elevation gain and the rest was down hill.

I've never been on a hiking trip where people carry your stuff, run ahead and set up camp and greet you at the meeting point with a bowl of warm water to wash your face. Then serve all sorts of soups, pastas, salads and delicious meals. My favourite is the pop corn snack time with coca tea!

Anyway we saw our first ruin as we came up our first mountain. This made me so excited!

We saw every animal possible: Llama, donkeys, sheep, cows, roosters, chickens, ducks. And we also got woken up by every animal :)

The next morning we were introduced to our team of 17 porters, 2 cooks and 2 guides...for our team of 12 tourists :) The most luxurious camping trip ever? Indeed.

Day 2: Huayllabamba to Pacaymayo
Distance: 5.1 miles/8.2km
Warmiwanusca pass Elevation: 13,776 ft/4199 m
Camp Elevation: 11,833 ft/3607 m

Day 2 will forever be known as the up hill of torture!! The journey before lunch was already pretty grueling to go up so much. It was really cool to see more tropical weather with waterfalls! Little did we know that after lunch was 2 hours of hell to get to the top of Dead Woman's Pass. Where I seriously was delirious and stopping every minute to catch my breath. I did learn a bunch of spanish while stopped since porters would be racing past me every minute too.

Cómo estás?
Estoy bien.
Mucho Gracias!

Yup, that's the extent of my spanish vocabulary repeated 100x and ingrained in my tiny brain now. Anyway I made it up to the graveyard of the dead women at the mountain pass to a bunch of cheering from my GAP tour which made the last few minutes bearable. Then at the top, I take my signature jumping picture and probably didn't make it off the ground.

Boy we were in for a treat, another 3 hours down the mountain to our campsite! We were rewarded with a selection of Wontons with cheese or Wonton with apples! The night in the campsite was definitely the coldest - me wearing 4 shirts, 2 pants and 2 socks and had to bust out 2 heat packs too.

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