Inca Trail: Day 2
I don't sleep well. It turns out that very thin mattresses and hard ground don't mix very well. Thankfully a porter wakes us up at 530am with a steaming cup of hot tea. That guilty feeling I had the day before threatens to reemerge so I beat it into submission. Breakfast is equally amazing as the lunch and dinner had yesterday but that joy is short lived when we begin the next stage of the trail.
1200 meters up to an altitude of 4200 meters. Ruth and I make short work of the first half of the pass. We find ourselves hiking through dense forest so we remain cool and confident. The next third is slightly more challenging as the air seems to thin, however we continue a good pace.
The last third is the true beast. I have done many hikes and trails in my life but the amount of effort required to finish off this pass feels immense. I find myself stopping every 10 steps just to catch my breath sucking in air like a beached wale. My head begins to thump and my heart is pounding. One can't imagine how people manage Mt Everest.
Ruth is incredible keeping a good 15 paces ahead of me. She reaches the top before me. I crawl up after her feeling a broken man. Scottish Greg, an avid enthusiast for hill climbing and who reached the top first out of our group, encourages me to sit down and just breathe. I need no encouragement. Finally I manage to remove myself from the foetal position in order to take in the view. It's a picture indeed. On one side of the pass is the very deep valley we've climbed out from. It's bordered by towering mountains capped in snow.
The mountains are shrouded in fine mist and one can't help but think this is what Tolkien had in mind when he imagined the Misty Mountains. On the other side of the pass is another deep valley in which our next camp lies.
We take photos to capture the achievement but are jarringly interrupted by the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard. It's as if someone shot off a rifle right next to my ear.
Not wanting to be the highest people at this point Ruth and I quickly descend down to our campsite. We are the first to arrive out of our group of 8. The porters who obviously arrived long before us seem suitably impressed by Ruth's achievement today and give her a round of applause. I feel a very proud husband.
With much of the afternoon left and with the rest of the group some way behind Ruth and I brave the showers which are directly fed by the river coming down from the mountain. Needless to say its freezing. As soon as the water hits your body you get what I like to call an instant ice cream headache. I scream like a girl. I think anyone within a 50 mile radius would of heard me.
Clean but slightly traumatised by the experience we enjoy the rest of the day as the rest of the group filters into camp. In the evening a fine supper is enjoyed by all before we go to bed absolutely knackered. It's only 8pm.