The Inca Trail: Days 1 and 2

Cusco Travel Blog

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The start of the Inca Trail.

Day 1

I'd spent the night before the start of the trek with a stunner of a headache, stressed out and worried that the altitude had finally gotten to me and this trek was going to be quite an epic ordeal. We awoke early and after popping a few ibuprofens and drinking some coca tea, I was feeling better and raring to go.

My group consisted of three Americans, ten Australian friends traveling together, another Australian guy traveling alone, and a Brazilian that lived in Australia.
Ready to go.
Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie. Quite the bunch and some entertaining times. After going through the required passport and id checkpoints, we were on the trail. With a blue sky and roaring sun, we walked about with an air of adventure and fun. We were on the Inca Trail and heading to Machu Picchu, following in the footsteps of all those mystical Incas that had gone before us. Ahsaa.

The first day was fairly easy, a five and a half hour jaunt through a valley, reaching camp around 4:30 in the afternoon and relaxing for the rest of the day until nightfall. After loading up on a delicious dinner we hit the sack, hoping our legs and lungs would recover enough for the monstrosity that awaited us on the second day; Dead Woman's Pass, a 4100 meter pass and the highest point of our trip.
Nice weather on the first day.
It'd be four to five hours of hiking up, followed by another hour down to the camp. And that was for the fast guys. Ouch.

Day 2

We started off this day at 5 am. We had breakfast and were then introduced to the porters. These are the majestic group of men who inconceivably carried all the food and camping stuff day after day, nearly running up the mountains while we struggled behind, and often in nothing more than sandals while we sported the latest in hiking fashion footwear. A trip that could not be done without them and a group we could never fully show our appreciation for. To say that these guys are impressive is a massive overstatement, and anyone that's seen them smile a hello as they seemingly effortlessly lug 50+ pounds of stuff on their back (often tied up in only ropes or belts, not a proper backpack) up a mountain will know what I mean.
an hour into the 4 hour climb on day 2
I was carrying around 20 pounds of stuff in my pack and couldn't imagine having to carry anymore. Wow.

We started up the climb at a rather brisk pace. We would have two rest stops on our way up the mountain, separated more or less by two hours of climbing. Feeling good and with overzealous confidence, I exchanged leads with my American (from California) colleague as we roared up the mountain to the first, and then the second stops. We reached both well ahead of schedule and sat about at the second stop drinking tea and nibbling snacks as the rest of the group arrived.

And then we started the third and final leg up the mountain. It started to rain, got kinda cold, and then I started hitting the wall. I begin stopping every 6-7 minutes to rest. Then every 3-4 minutes.
Centuries old steps of the Inca Trail.
The altitude began taking its effect and I wondered where all the oxygen had gone. As the summit loomed ahead, so close I thought I could touch it, my legs continued to give way. My 3 to 4 minutes between breaks became 10-15 steps, and then 5-6. Finally, finally, I reached the top. With rain dropping and wind howling, I took the requisite photos with the others and then began the treacherous descent alone, losing myself in a cave of pain and exhaustion I hadn't experienced since my old days of cycling. After an eternity and a half, I found myself below the clouds and out of the rain and with the camp in sight below. I'd made it at last. My dad caught me with a few hundred meters to go and we entered camp with only the necessities on our minds; hot drinks, food, and a nap. Day 2 complete. Bring on Day 3.
jlchatham says:
I used Peru Treks. :D They were good.
Posted on: Feb 03, 2010
Africancrab says:
Which company did you use for the Inca Trail hike?
Posted on: Feb 02, 2010
jlchatham says:
Definitely. I was really surprised at the difference from just a few hundred meters change.
Posted on: Aug 16, 2009
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The start of the Inca Trail.
The start of the Inca Trail.
Ready to go.
Ready to go.
Nice weather on the first day.
Nice weather on the first day.
an hour into the 4 hour climb on d…
an hour into the 4 hour climb on …
Centuries old steps of the Inca Tr…
Centuries old steps of the Inca T…
Day 2
Day 2
the porters.
the porters.
Dad reaching the top!
Dad reaching the top!
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke