Inca Trail - Day 2 - It's called Dead Woman's pass for a reason...

Cusco Travel Blog

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Pretty early in the second day you hit stairs and lots of them!

As you come in to the Inca trail you are told that there is only one really hard day and that is the second.  I'm quitely confident that I can confirm that for myself and everyone else in the group that dragged their sore legs up those, count them, two passes.

The day begins with a big breakfast (mmm porridge) so you can load up on the energy needed to start going uphill pretty much straight away. Then you launch in to a couple of hours of stairmaster 2006!  I'm not sure if I'd managed to get used to the altitude a bit in Huaraz, or if I had just overdosed on coca leaf tea :) but a slightly faster pace suited my hiking style a bit better so myself and South African Jannes headed up the hill at a porter style pace (Important note: We didn't have 30 kgs on our back ;) )

The approach to Dead Woman's pass really is quite cruel in that there are a series of moments where you think you can see the top, only to reach that point and see a 'new' top:) So we made our way up the hill passing about 5 wild llamas (or are they alpacas, I don't know) on the path, cautiously going past them without really knowing what makes them spit, or if they kick like donkeys as you go past.

It's hard to capture how steep this is but I get the feeling the Incas should of been the Empire of the stairs!
 

Without question, you are happy to have a break once you reach the top, and the views are absolutely spectacular.  The only problem with our quicker pace was that the top of the pass (about 4200 m) was a meeting point for the group photo shot and there was a cutting breeze blowing over the pass.  So we rugged up, gratefully accepted a hot cup of coca leaf tea from a group that was already there and watched the others battle the hill we had just overcome.  This did give us time to become professional photographers for the group before hand, as well as master the Quechan language with the porters (or at least try to thank them as they arrived with loads on their back)

Once we had all regrouped it was time for a downhill stretch (knowing that there was still another uphill stretch ahead).

There was nothing in the brochure about having to battle fierce llamas
  It's a bit disheartening to lose all that altitude after climbing so high, but knowing a big lunch was ahead was a good incentive. The porters obviously embrace gravity down this stretch, they basically lean forward and let the weight on their backs catapult them down.  They must watch their footing well!

Time once again for our luxury lunch and afternoon siesta, I also used this as a first opportunity to chew on some coca leaves (I swear I just need one more hit, just one!) for some afternoon energy.  It gives sort of a vague numbness in your mouth, and the same sort of kick as the coca leaf tea, but I only chewed half a dozen leaves.  Fernando assured us that if you chew around 100 leaves you start to feel quite, shall we say, different ;)

The stretch after lunch isn't as bad, there's a shorter (half hour or so) uphill stretch to get to some ruins where we have a bit of a break and a tour with Fernando.

We edge our way past the llamas, wondering what it takes to make them spit
Then a further hour uphill sees you at the end of your climbing time for the day. Ahhhhh... Once againg we have to knock some of that altitude off and go downhill for an hour to camp.

The one catch with this camp was that the tents seemed to have been set up on a slight downhill slope.  It's not really too obvious until you wake in the middle of the night in the fetal position at the bottom of your mattress :) Also our tents were about as far away from the dunnies as you could be, so I think there were quite a few improvisations in the night. With all of that in mind, the day's climbing meant that most people slept pretty damn well anyway

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Pretty early in the second day you…
Pretty early in the second day yo…
Its hard to capture how steep thi…
It's hard to capture how steep th…
There was nothing in the brochure …
There was nothing in the brochure…
We edge our way past the llamas, w…
We edge our way past the llamas, …
The view uphill to Dead Womans pa…
The view uphill to Dead Woman's p…
A look back down the valley weve …
A look back down the valley we've…
We can see people at the top of De…
We can see people at the top of D…
Time to rug up as we wait for ever…
Time to rug up as we wait for eve…
Some people are starting to come u…
Some people are starting to come …
Believe me the porters deserve a r…
Believe me the porters deserve a …
The group shot
The group shot
Now, time for the downhill bit of …
Now, time for the downhill bit of…
Now that weve gone downhill, time…
Now that we've gone downhill, tim…
Our enxt batch of ruins
Our enxt batch of ruins
After the ruins well be ending up…
After the ruins we'll be ending u…
The ruins we were just at
The ruins we were just at
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke