Inca Trail - Day 2 - It's called Dead Woman's pass for a reason...
Cusco Travel Blog› entry 38 of 58 › view all entries
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.
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).
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.
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