Machu Picchu Day!!!
Machu Picchu Travel Blog› entry 7 of 10 › view all entries
October 12th, 2008 – by: aerynn
It is Machu Picchu Day! I feel a bit grumpy, even though I got my nap yesterday. But I'm bound and determined to go on that hike to Huayna Picchu, and see some morning mist on the mountain.
8 pm, Hostal Machu Picchu
Not much solo time to write on this trip, but before I pass out, I just wanted to note that today was AWESOME. What is there to write about a place that has been written about by so many? How can I get substantial photos of a place which has been imaged by so many? What makes my images unique? I guess the fact that the writing and experience and images are my experience.
We woke up at 4 am to get ready. Had breakfast at 5 am, which was a beautiful buffet spread with little breads that I was absolutely into. Kiwi fruit, bananas, juices, eggs, fried potatoes, and more!
As soon as we finished, we joined the bus station zoo to get our bus tickets and wait in line. They cranked through the line pretty fast, and it was a great opportunity to watch the sunrise mists up on the peaks.
Local women walked up and down the bus line selling water, breakfast stuff, and film. The views from the bus at sunrise were awesome. Mist constantly changing, the road a switchback dirt thing with no guard rails, buses barrelling up and down, skillfully avoiding each other and the plunge into the Urubamba river valley.
The buses deposited us near a fancy hotel just outside the gates to Machu Picchu, where we waited in another line.
We both had smallish backpacks. We buried our water and food underneath other items in the bags, and proceeded through the gate without a hitch.
The ruins and the mist were captivating, yet, we had a goal. We marched quickly across the ruins to the other side of Machu Picchu, during which time it had started to rain! I was glad I had bought a marmot rain jacket the night before we left Cusco.
There was a line already forming at the gate to Huayna Picchu. The hike to Huayna Picchu is very popular.
The line forms early, and if you are near the front, you get to choose whether you want an 8am start time or a 10am start time. Even though it was sill raining when we reached the front of the line, we decided to opt for the 8am start time. Most people were choosing 10, hoping for less rain. We were worried about slippery footing and poor visibility, but in the end we both agreed that the early start time was the best choice.
As we hiked up stair after stair, the mist gradually cleared to reveal amazing views of the valley and the ruins, as well as the Huayna Picchu peak that we were ascending.
Trying to capture the magic of the mist parting to reveal Machu Picchu below was an impossible task, but the photos are enough to jog my memory to the reality of my experience.
The trail was not for the feint of heart. At some points it was so steep that a cable accompanied the trail. The ruins are at around 9000 feet in elevation, which for most people, does not provide a comfortable level of oxygen while doing physical work.
Near the top, the trail loops around and through the Huayna Picchu ruins, and even goes through a small cave that made me think of a rabbit hole from Alice In Wonderland. For those that are not comfortable crawling through the cave, there are other paths that circumvent it.
At the top we had our picnic lunch. In the distance I could see a waterfall. We were perched at the top of a rock slab that was angled as a slide. At the bottom of the slide there was a small area where you could catch yourself before plummeting off a sheer cliff into the valley.
The hike down was grueling because it was even more vertical, and we were already tired from the hike up! The clouds had all dispersed and the drizzly morning had turned into a balmy Peruvian jungle day. The hikers on their way up were pouring sweat and I was really glad I had done my hike up in the cool mist of the early morning.
By the time we got back to Machu Picchu, we were both seriously ready for a potty break. We had to exit the ruins through the gate, and wait in line to pay 1 Soles to use the bathroom. It was a rather disappointing experience to have to pay for, although it made the rest of the day much easier.
We rested for awhile at a food court area, and then went back to the ruins for round two! By this point it was mid-afternoon, and we wanted to wait around for the light to begin to change.
We didn't walk around much, as we were very tired, but mostly stayed on the entrance-side of Machu Picchu, visiting, taking pictures, watching the dynamic lighting as the clouds came in for the afternoon rain. It didn't ever rain, but it threatened, and it was beautiful.
We took one of the last buses back down to Aguas Calientes; completely exhausted and ready for a hearty meal. We chose a *good* restaurant, and ate pizza and soup!
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