To say, "if I could finish the Inca Trail anybody can" would be an insult to the most amazing adventure that I just experienced this weekend. There is nothing easy about the Inca Trail. Even the down hill was rough (over 5,000 steps downhill is more than rough). I will try to recount as much as possible. First I want to say that Machu Picchu is sinking. They are not sure as to why but it is rumored that in the next 10 to 15 years Machu Picchu will be viewed only from afar, so the fact that I had the honor of walking about the ruins is something that I am grateful for.
2 guides, 2 cooks, 19 porters and 14 trekers. That was our group.
Day 1:This is supposed to be the easy day.
(Tip one... HIRE A PERSONAL PORTER!!!! There were advid trekers that ended up getting a porter the next day. It would be worth the money.)
They picked us up from our hostle in Cuzco at about 5:30 am and then took a 2 hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo. From there that is where the hiking started. We treked 7.5 miles slightly elevated. Our camp was in Wayllabamba which is 9,000 feet about sea level (Lake Tahoe is about 6,200 ft). This part of the treck is not the Inca trail. It is a trail that leads to the original trail.
There are actually 3 main trails that the Incas used to get to Machu Picchu. One was for the messengers, the second for the traders, and the third for as sacred route. We took the sacred route.
Day 2: The Hardest Day
This was the hardest day and I hired a porter to carry my pack. We treked 3,300 feet all up hill to Dead Womans Pass, which is about 13,000 ft above sea level.Here is where the Inca trail begins.
I must tell you that there are women that sell bottled water, gatorade, candy and toilet paper along the way. Interesting, I know.
The food that the tour group provided was AMAZING. Three course meals with nice flat ware and dishes. We all felt like royalty.
Day 3: This was the longest day and the most beautiful day.
We hiked about 9 miles through ruins and steps built by the Incas. It was still physically challenging but the scenery was amazing. I would stop and look out into the Andes. It was so green and the sounds of the forest were soothing. The Trail itself was beautiful and dangerous. You had to make sure to stay to the mountain side of the trail because porters would fly past you and there were no railings to stop you from going over the edge of the mountain. There were some points where the steps were so steep you had to climb with your hands!!!
There was this one section that meandered through trees and moss that climbed the sides of the mountain. You can hear the streams running through as you continue your walk. There were also some amazing orchids. I am not into flowers so much but they were pretty amazing.
Day 4: The hike into Machu Picchu
We woke up at 4 am and hiked about 3 miles in the dark so we could see the sun rise over her. This was the most intense part of the trek. There were about 20 treking companies at our campsite and all wanted to see the sunrise over her. As you pass through the first Sungate, people fly past you racing to reach the second Sungate. There was this part of the Inca Trail called "Monkey Steps". They call it that because you climb them with your hands like a monkey. But as soon as you reach the top, there is the valley in which Machu Picchu lays.
When we arrived it was still dawn and there were clouds covering the ruins so we could not yet see her. We sat and watched as the clouds slowly began to reveal what we all haved be waiting for. Soon there she was, tucked in the valley waiting for all of us to explore her. We walked further down the mountain to get closer to her and to sit and watch the sun rise over her. This was something that I have been looking forward to for so long. She was beautiful. As we finally made it to the ruins, we spent a few hours walking and learing more about her. At about 1 pm we had to make our way back to Cuzco. As I sat on the bus leaving her, I felt the most emotional feelings come over me. I wept. I wept because I was leaving something that I had put so much emotional and physical energy into and I had to leave her. She was beautiful and brilliant and her home was just as breath taking. I had my back to her,returning to my world. Soon I will have to face all that I need to take care of. THIS is and will be the most amazing experiance of my life.