Day 42 13/11/09
I woke up with a very sore ankle but strapped it ready for the Inca trail. We stopped in town so I could buy supplies as my leg had negated doing this the day before. From the town centre we went to the checkpoint at KM82 the start of the Inca trail.
Having had our passports stamped at the entrance we got underwaay. The walking although quite sore was not too bad and I had soon eased into a rythum. Additionally, the combination of coca leaves and painkillers left my foot pretty numb for the most part. Our first main sight was the ruins at Torantay net to the Urubamba river. It was a short but steep hike to key to see these ruins from a watch point atop the opposite set of mountains. Here our guide gave us an explaination of the site and the importance of the Urubamba which reflects the Milky Way perfectly. From here it was a march to our first camp at a riverside for unch and then a long hike in the pouring rain to our night camp just past Wayllabamba.
Here, in addition to the great food the cooks made for us, we had Guniea Pig or Cuy. The majority of the group watched the entire butchering process. First the fur was planched from the skin, then it was meticulously shaved. Following this their mouths were split, they were gutted and cleaned ready to be roasted. To be very honest it was not the nicest meat I have tried but it was good to sample a Peruvian delecacy.
Day 43 14/11/09
The next day was the hardest climb, an 11km trek over Huarui Wan(y)uscaor Dead Woman's Pass (so named because one is able to imagine the body of a woman in the valley side). Dead Woman's Pass is at 4,215m up. It was exhausting, the view along the way were stunning however, it was damn hot! The final hour to the top was monstrous for me but I made it by leaving Ian, Chris and Dave and catching Kieron so I could plow on ahead.
The top was in the clouds (rather cool) and cold so we didn't stay long. It was an incredible achievement to get there! On the way down it was far easier, apart from the occasional slip where the waterfalls met the rocks in the path. I reahed the camp in around four and a half hours. Not bad on a sprained anke, especially when the average time for the route is between 6-8hrs.
That afternoon, exhausted all I did was sleep and eat.
Day 44 15/11/09
We had two peaks to climb today in a 16km hike. The first was directly after our campsite. In the pouring rain we headed uphill. All soon reduced to ponchoes, shorts adn tshirts due to the heat. The first peak was fine, the lads got up with no problems stopping only at a small lake about 100m from the top. Unfortunately the rain marred our vies at this time. The next section was downhill. This was when the combination of coca leaves, painkillers and adrenaline hit me, I was buzzing. Following Kiques' steps I soon broke away from the reast eventually coming to a stop at the steps of a nearby ruin.
Once the others had caught up we went to explore the ruin and Eff gave us another of his explanations. He explained how the windows were set to guage the changes between the solstace and the equinox and the imporance of the fountain flowed into the site.
Again during our next walk I raced off accompanied by Enrique, Jim and Martin. The views along the way were mexmorising. The best part was a stop at the second peak that looked out on the Urubamba river straight along the sacred valley. It was brilliant!
Following lunch we headed of again, we stopped almost immediately to look at the most complete example of an Inca fountain still around. Although asthetically not much to look at it was fantastic to know that it has existed, carved through the mountainside, for over 500 years. From this the path soon became steeper and filled with akward uneven steps. It was here my speed got the better of me, and although taking care on the steps I rolled my ankle again. Stupidly I had ried to use it to support my weight as I navigated the steeper steps! My previous bullish, coca and painkiller fueled, drive to the end was gone, it was excruciating. From this point the day became a painful blur as I walked downhill to our final campsite.
With the aid of a showere adn beer my lefe eaed and I enjoyeed our goodby ceremony complete with cake. We went to sleep early as our trek to Machu Picchu started at 4 am the next morning.
Day 46 16/11/09
Our day began at 4am. The porters were so keen to be on their way they began dismantling the tent before we had left it. By 5am we were at the gait in the rain waiting for the park to open. Once the door open we began a rapid march for over an hour to the Sun Gate. The view was well worth it. Machu Picchu etherially appeared through the morning mist. I will never forget the perfect moment when the clouds cleared sot hat it appeared, errupting from them, perched atop its mountain.
From the Sun Gate I ambled slowly on my tired leg to the city itseld. We all gathered by the top most section to view it alongside the Llamas.
From here Effrin took us out the tourist exist so we could get our passport stamped and unload our hiking sticks before heading back in for his tour ofthe site. He explained to us how two Peruvians had discovered the site 10 years before the celebrated Bingham (the American professor who took the first photographs). Their names were carved inside the sun temple. He explained theories behind the purpose of the site such as the idea that it was once a university for the Incan nobility. We went to all the temples, Sun, Water, Condor, (Snake and Puma) and saw how the stone varied in quality dependant on the importance of a building.
After the rour we left the site, it had begun to rain and our exhaustion had set in. Our journey back to Cusco began with a train to Ollantaytambo. It was hilarious! We were treated to native danceing and an Alpaca fashion show. Also our driver occasionally left the train, whilst it was in gear, so that he could run out and change the points.
The final part of the day was a coach to Cusco, then showeres, laundry and food.
Day 46 17/11/09
Did almost nothing this day went for lunch, slept, had a Curry(!) and got drunk in The Lak.