Day 2. aka. Dead Womens Pass. 30th April.
Written by Rachel.
The day of torture and hell had finally arrived. We had woken up that morning with a porter serving us a steaming mug of essentially leaves mixed with just boling water. Breakfast was hearty and the cakey bread was eaten down with plentiful spoonfuls of Fanny-jam. Fanny-jam. Lol. A genuine brand of jam which provided many lols during eating hours. Jose then briefed us on what today had in store for us. This included; 6 hours of walking, trekking the distance of 12km, arriving at the highest point (dead womens pass) which was situated at 13.779,53 feet and only having lunch at the final campsite. Just as emily and we were about to melt at this excruciating message of high physical demand along with NO FOOD, we were quickly given snack packs like school trip times filled with delicious goodies such as lolly pops and sublime bars (emilys new favourite chocolate snack- possibly more favoured than her sacred peanut M&M´s).
After breakfast and the usual over-consumption of everyone elses leftovers, we packed up our bags and headed for Dead Womens Pass. Yesterday, emilys bag was honestly like carrying the weight of a small child holding a brick inside, so I decided to riffle through her bag to find what one earth she had possibly packed. The conversation went something like this:
(This took place in Ollantaytambo)
Me: “Emily this bag is just too far. Are you sure there is nothing you can´t take out of it?”
Emily: “No, this is everything I need I can´t possibly take anything more out.”
(After the first day of trekking)
Me: (after searching through her bag) “ Emily! What is a GCSE Spanish translation book and a fricken guide book doing in your bag?”
So day two she had a more comfortable time after emptying her bag out. So off we marched up to the second passport hut and Michael, after seeing a map of the trail, commented “Oh this day doesn´t look to bad ey?”. Oh the ever-optomist Canadian. The beginning part was fairly steep but managable, and Clayton was happily steaming ahead as usual with his inappropriate sneakers whilst angry raging pedro was behind, possibly raging to himself in his yellow tee shirt. O Pedro. The views never disappointed and were still just as stunning as they were yesterday, and the weather was perfect for hiking. See pictures for details.
Once we had come to our first resting point, emily was in a state of bliss at the prospect of eating her Sublime bar. I just looked like a t*** in a hat next to her whilst hatin´ on this energy bar which just tastedd like polysterine. Once we had rested up and trevors camera was in full swing, we headed up into the jungle part of the trek. It was atmospheric and tranquille, broken only by the incessant panting and spluttering from the never-ending upward staircase infront of us. Emily, Clayton and I had spilt into our own cool crew and were, shockingly, ahead of most of the group. We stopped for regular breaks and our converstaion with Clayton whiled away the time nicely. However it was exceeding tough, and fatigue was slowing us down along with the constant stream of lies about time and distance from Jose. Emily distrusted him so much that whilst on the stairs she asked him “are these the actual stairs you were talking about at breakfast?”. Finally, after one and half hours, 2 lucozade tablets and 3 packets of oreos later, we finally reached Dead Womens Pass!! Not.
The second resting point was rewarding because after being hidden behind the shady green jungle foilage with a picturesque stream flowing along side the path, just around the corner held a magnificant view of towering mountains with misty clouds encircling the very peaks of the tops. We then dived to the stalls (there were stalls in most stop points) and hastily bought up a variety of nutritional snacks such as skittles, mars bars, sublime bars and a bunch of coca leaves for more mouth-numbing times.
The climb up to the real Dead Womens Path was, to put it bluntly, endless. It took 2 hours to reach, and at every single corner we were reassured from the optomistic thought of “this will definately be the top... this will surely be the top...” which developed to more bitter thoughts of “ Jose must be right this time... this must be the fricken top...” to the final thought of “THAT´S the top?! Well F*** this s***.!”
Getting to the top, I decided to be a massive legend. We were warned, time and time again, about the significant rise in altitude and how we must proceed in caution and take it at a slow, steady pace. This did not register in the mind of Rachel I´m-such-a-legend Clare Hunter. On the last 50 steps or so, we were very close to the top and excitement was growing.
Me: “Guys- we are so close!!”
Emily (sarcastically): “Well brilliant. Let´s crack open some champagne.”
Clayton: “Sweet dude.”
Me (suddenly inspired by God-knows-what): “I know... why don´t the three of us get there in the fastest time we can, with NO breaks? It´s only the last little bit and it will feel like we have really achieved reaching this point!”
Mutual agreement followed this idea, despite emily looking bewildered at the prospect of no breaks. But we powered on up in an enthusiastic state of mind, eager as one to get to the top and feeling heroic when finally mastered the top! This lasted for all of 30 seconds when emily said “can´t we atleast have a break here?” I, on the otherhand, continued to push through whilst becoming more and more breathless, my muscles aching and my heart feeling like it was about to explode from sheer exhaustion. Emily even commented after that I looked as if I was going to fall backwards off the mountain. Dangerous times, but when I finally got up to the point I thought I was going to CHUNDER EVERYWHAAARR. It wasn´t really worth it and I was a dead woman at dead womens pass.
After enjoying a long rest and ample amounts of water and various flavoured buscuits, our trio headed downwards. Hurray! No more uphill! Except it was raining on the way down and it was just as steep, if not steeper, and to make it worse, slippy. We slipped and slided our way downwards, occassionally the odd fall and me wondering outloud how the other two remained balanced with their hands in their pockets whilst I was flailing my own limbs around for stability. Like Oscar in his daily life. At this point, a stoned peruvian waltzed up to Clayton, grabbed his hair in an awed stlye and said in Spanish “You have Hair like Jesus!” and just continued on his merry high way.
Once down at the campsite, it was still raining. But something that cheered us up was the LOLLING outfit peter was wearing- only the most womenly leggings and what looked like flippers on his feet! Bless peter! But we were just so tired on reaching the site that after braving satans loos and eating an amazing lunch, me and em snuggled down under our safe and dry tents to watch the second episode of the inbetweeners on her tiny screen. It was not dry for long as the tent was threatening to leak, but thankfully the porters came to our unknown rescue and promptly secured the tent with waterproof plastic covers. They are my heros
It was only a few weeks later we were told that this certain campsite is haunted by a well known ghost that, as the legend goes, pulls its victims from their securely zipped tents down into the depths of the mountains, never to be seen again. There have been 10 disappearances in 60 years, and the porters tie themselves together in order protect eachother if one is attacked by this demon ghost. Nonetheless, we were not told about these servilly concerning tales and us gimps in a tent happily messed around and kept others around us awake by telling eachother year-3 ghost stories and laughing in our oblivious states. What idiots. However, we got to sleep rather sharpish after remembering there was another hearty day of trekking to complete before the final day of reaching the enchanting Machupicchu...