Inca Trail Day 3
Machu Picchu Travel Blog› entry 4 of 5 › view all entries
Day three started off with an hour or so hike straight up, stopping about halfway to explore a nice little set of ruins perched on the hill side. After this, we continued up and over the mountain, starting another 30-40 minute descent before coming upon yet another ruin, this one perched above us on a cliff face looking out over the valley. It was a really nice place and one I enjoyed walking throughout. It had been pretty clear up until that point so we had some wonderful views back up the trail and were able to see a couple of ponds and other scenic spots. After that, we headed back down and ten minutes later were seated for lunch.
And then, the rain began. It started while we were eating lunch. We delayed our start a bit but finally our guide said we might as well go for it. I whipped out a trash bag to try and cover my sleeping bag, and then put my rain jacket over my shoulders so that it covered the top of my pack. Water ready…kinda. We set out uphill again and were soon moving at a fast clip. We reached some hairy sections with a few huge drop-offs on our left side, but we pressed on and on to the very top. From here, it was all downhill to our final campsite. I'd heard a few different numbers for this last section of day 3. These ranged from 1,000 to 3,000 and up. I'm talking about steps. Steps down. Wet steps. Ancient steps laid down 500 years ago In the Andes mountains. This is what the guide called the "gringo killer". Clever.
So we started running down them. Ha. I quickly learned that walking down these steps was hellacious on the knees and legs. One of the guys realized that if you just let gravity take its course and ran/shuffled/danced down the steps, your joints wouldn't be so afflicted. Made sense to me! Of course, these weren't steps so much as little boulders placed in a haphazard state that resembled a step. And did I mention it was raining? And if I fell? Hmm, a couple of nice drop-offs here and there, maybe some of the underbrush would slow me down before I completely careened off the mountain. I didn't give much thought to that possibility.
So we continued running for a good hour or so, breaking every once in a while to catch our breath and marvel at the fact that none of us had gone screaming off the mountain yet. Finally we got to a straighter/ less of a downhill section. One guy did end up stepping on a rock and twisting his ankle but fortunately we were almost to the end. The road forked up ahead so I decided to take the left fork and get up close and personal to some massive ancient terraces carved into the hillside. I was glad I did as the view was spectacular and the terraces themselves were just incomprehensible. Amazing stuff.
At the final campsite and we had a good rest and relaxing evening. That evening we also said goodbye to all the amazing porters. We had a little "ceremony" to say thanks and give them a tip that didn't come close to paying them back for their immense work and helpfulness in the previous days. They really were amazing guys. After our goodbyes, we settled in for the night and got ready for the next day. Day four was coming and day 4 would take us to Machu Picchu! We'd almost made it.