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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Goal #6: Climb Machu Picchu (Day 4) Completed!!

Day 4: Wiñaywayna to the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu
Distance: 2.49 miles/4 km
Maximum Elevation: 8,829 ft/2,700 m
Machupicchu Elevation: 7,872 ft/2,400 m

Bright and early we woke up at 4am. Since I had about 8 hours of sleep, I was up and ready to go! We had a quick breakfast, said bye to the porters and off we went to walk about 5 min to join the lineup. We were about the 5th group in line at the gate that opened at 5:30am. There was a whole group that walked past us to the front of the line, we were totally not happy with that. Anyway while waiting we started seeing twilight on the horizon as the mountain were lighting up slowly. We also saw this huge star. After much debate about how impossible it is that the Northern star would be in the southern hemisphere, we were told that it was VENUS! I've never seen a planet in the sky before, this totally made my day! So Mel used her tripod for the first time and we took long exposure shots of Venus and the mountains.

Anyway the gate finally opened. I had a lil mishap with my bowel movements about 30 min into this mad rush to get to the sungate by sunrise. But I did the best I could with my short legs and poor lungs. For some reason this hour of hiking/jogging up to the sungate felt like the toughest for me, mentally and physically. Like I was so close and struggled for the last 3 days and there's only ONE hour of hiking to be done. Then the last 50 huge rocky steps came...I climbed up that with lots of struggle. The guide instructed that it was another 5 min to the Sun Gate. And voila, the breathe taking view of mountains surrounding Macchu Picchu was rewarded to me!!

I was overwhelmed with shock, awe, happiness as I joined the rest of my group and watched as the sun rose up and shined light gradually onto Machu Picchu and the shadows of the mountains withdrew. I took about 100 photos and jumped in the mean time :) I was actually there, in person, watching the sunrise! After that ensued another hour or more of walking down, taking pictures, jumping, rolling around in the grass and just taking it all in. We had a reunion at the bottom with two girls that took another trek to Machu Picchu (Lares trail which you don't need a permit for).

Then our final 2 hours with our guide was spent walking around Machu Picchu seeing the mother of all ruins. I love how they had Llamas as the residents for cutting grass and other people were cleaning the rocks. I can't describe the feeling of walking through trying to understand an ancient civilization and realizing that...I ACTUALLY MADE IT!!!!

Then I slept until the guards kicked me out :)

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