So this morning we all waited to have our duffle bags weighed . Each person is allowed to take 5kg up the trail, which your porter carries. This includes your sleeping bag - trust me 5kg was easily reached. However there will be no showering for 4 days so no need for toiletries, just some warm clothing and plenty of baby wipes! Anything else you wanted to take, u had to carry urself - subsequently i wore the same clothes for 4 days. After a, whats turning out to be the norm in peruvian transport, couple of flat tyres and a busted gear box, and numerous bus changes we finally arrived at the start of the trail 1 1/2 hrs late. We all purchased our compulsory walking sticks, little did we know how essential they would prove to be.
We set off in beautiful sunshine, but the heat made life very hard work . We meandered at our own pace, up and downhill, through mountains. (some of them snow capped) Day one is officially the easiest day, distance wise, altitude wise and terrain wise - it wasnt easy. Its not so much the distance you walk that makes this trail gruelling, (we only walk about 12km per day)But its the jagged, uneven, loose surface, the altitude and the steepness, both uphill and down that make this both mentally and physically challenging.
All the time you are plodding cautiously along the track, the porters come hurtling past carrying 25kg each putting you all to shame. The have to get to each resting point long before us to set up our tents, the food tents and get the food cooking, they`re amazing. We have been given the most incredible food. Breakfast, snacks, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner - much needed tho as we`re burning around 3000 calories a day. Ive never consumed so much.
We arrived at the campsite early evening, perched on the side of a mountain with the most beautiful views. Afternoon tea and dinner finished around 8.00pm and we were all straight to bed shattered and knowing we were to be woken at 5.00am to start the toughest day. We needed all the rest we could get. The minute we stepped into our tents the most incredible storm began and we went to sleep to the porters frantically hammering in our tent pegs - but nothing was gona keep me awake.
After a massive breakfast we set off at 7.00 today. We walked uphill for 3 1/2 hours until lunch, and the for a further 1 1/2 after lunch reaching a height of 4215m. The heighest point we reach, called the `dead womans pass.` It was gruelling and relentless with many steep steps. Lots of the path is on cliff edges and not for the faint hearted. When we reached the pass, there was such a sense of relief and achievement. The view was stunning, It was freezing cold and we were right up in the clouds.
After that it was 2hrs down steep steps. The distance is so deceptive here. We could clearly see the campsite below us and none of us could belive that it was 2hrs away - it was. I found going downhill almost harder than going up. It was so tough on ur joints, and took so much concentration. The walking sticks were so vital and saved me on numerous occasions.
We reached the campsite in the early evening. This one was again on a mountain edge - no sleepwalking for me tonight!! Im not feeling too bad, ive just been taking it fairly easy so i get time to take everything in and enjoy this. So today was the hardest day, tomorrow is the longest. In bed again by 8.00pm to get plenty of rest.
Today we walked from 5.00am-4.00pm, covering 14km. It wasnt as hardcore today, but it had rained making the path trecherous in parts. I was alover the place, concentration isnt my strong point and after 2 whole days of concentration i was beginning to wain. I slipped over at least 3 times and twisted numerous ankles (not that ive got numerous ankles, but you know what i mean) It got kinda funny it happened so much! But it was lovely walking today, nice and cool and through lots of lush forest and not too steep. I felt the strongest ive felt all walk today. I think my body`s adjusting.
The hard part came after lunch, when we descended 1000 metres. It took 3 hrs and was down large, steep steps all the way - My knees were aching when we finally reached the bottom. At least at this campsite there was a bar and somewhere to sit......and snickers bars!!!! We had a presentation for the porters, at dinner, to thank them for there hard work and give them some tips the once again we had a very early night - big day tomo.
Day 4 - Macchu Picchu!
Was woken up at 4.30 this morning to get to Macchu Picchu for sunrise and to beat the crowds. Unfortunately the weather was miserable, the worst yet. Although only 2 hrs walking today, because of the weather the path was very slippery and after 3 solid days and moral low because of the weather, it was probably the hardest 2 hrs. When we arrived at the sungate, overlooking Macchu Picchu, there was no sun. We were in thick cloud and couldnt see a thing, we couldnt even tell which way to look. It was really hard to stay positive and not to get disheartened.
We continued the walk down to Macchu Picchu, about 40 mins. The weather showed no signs of clearing. When we arrived at the ruins we were literally standing right next to it (it turned out) but we could barely see our hands infront of our faces. We had some breakfast and the rain continued to pour. I tried to stay optomistic, but our 4 days of hard graft were looking like having no end result.
We decided that we might as well go to the ruins and see what we couls, close up. Just as we got back there the clouds lifted and we got our first glimpse, it was a very emotional moment. Gradually the cloud lifted more and more, and although we didnt get any sunshine we got some clear views of the ruins. It was so hard to believe I was actally here. We spent the whole day exploring before boarding the train back. As soon as I sat down exhaustion hit me and my body just shut down. I was shattered and in desperate need of a shower and my bed. Which i finally got after another standard bus breakdown, this time it was the fanbelt!