Day five of my trip to Peru was the second day of the Inca trail. As I’ve mentioned before I love to hike but hate to camp. The fact that I couldn’t sleep the night before only reinforced how much I hate camping. I also was not a fan of the sleeping bags that we rented from the tour company, but they were better than nothing. At least I like sleeping on a first surface so the actually sleeping on the group part of camping wasn’t that bad.
We were woken up at 5:30 by the porters and the cook. They offered us Coca tea. Since we weren’t having any Coca on our trip I had coffee and my mom had hot chocolate. Breakfast was good and filling but it takes me a while to get going in the morning. I felt a little rushed after breakfast was over to get going back on the Inca Trail. However, I knew that if I didn’t stretch properly I would get hurt. I made everybody wait until I was properly stretched. I know my body and I wasn’t going to risk an injury because people couldn’t wait five more minutes.
Our Dutch travel companion seemed to be very impatient with my stretching and my mom needing more time to get organized. He was literally chomping at the bit and left about five minutes before we did. I was kind of annoyed by this but then I found it funny when after hiking for fifteen minutes I passed him on the trail because he was struggling with the steep incline. I wanted to say “It’s a marathon buddy, not a sprint.”
It was still very cold when we first began hiking that second morning.
We were in between some mountains so the sun didn’t really get to us until we reached a higher elevation. It was a tough call in term of what to wear. It was a little too cold if you only wore a t-shirt and too warm if you wore a sweatshirt. I decided to go with the t-shirt only option because I knew it would get warmer throughout the day.
That morning we climbed and climbed and climbed. It was very challenging but I had trained to climb. I did listen to my I-Pod a little bit during the first hour of the trek but that was it. My mom and I stayed fairly close together for the first half of that morning.
Meanwhile, our guide (Marco) stayed back with Kees. We realized that Marco always stayed with the person in the back (and we all had our turns back there).
As we climbed I took in the beauty of the Andes. We took several breaks and after taking a mid-morning snack break about halfway up the peak I pulled ahead of everybody. The hiking had gone from a trail to the stairs were famous for. At that point I couldn’t wait for mom; I just need to push myself ahead to the top.
The one downside about reaching the top of the highest peak I’ve ever climbed by myself was that I didn’t get to share my moment with anybody.
The plus side was I got about ten minutes to take it all in by myself…well by myself and the other hikers from different groups.
As mom reached the top I cheered her on.
She seemed kind of annoyed but then she turned around and did the same thing for Marco and Kees.
The four of us took a nice long break at the top of the pass. Luckily, I had several snacks in my bag because I was very hungry and it had been many hours since breakfast.
After resting we began to head down the other side of the pass to our campsite for the second day. I was much more concerned about how my knees would hold up going down than was about going up, so I put on my knee straps.
As expected going down was much more difficult for me than going up had been; I had trained for climbing but I hadn’t really trained enough for going down. Going down was really challenging for me for three reasons. One, the normal resistance issues going down and the stress on my knees. Two, the Incan stairs were kind of tricky to go down. Three, out of nowhere the Peruvian altitude finally got to me.
It was really the altitude that really caught me off guard. I had done so well climbing the peak that reached nearly 14,000 feet above sea level but all of a sudden I was very lightheaded. I thought that breathing would be easier since we were going down but it wasn’t; it was harder but what choice did I have? I had to keep going; I just was very careful and took as many breaks as I needed. I did have one misstep and I crunched my left ankle a little bit. Thankfully it wasn’t really hurt but it did serve as warning to me on the importance of focusing and being present of my body, especially when going down.
I may have been the first person to reach the top of the peak but I was the last person to get to camp. My knees and altitude really slowed me down. When I got to camp I was very dizzy, lightheaded and hungry.
The bathrooms at the camp were okay. Better than the first day. On the Inca Trail the toilets are usually this step up where there is a hole on the floor. You go and then you can flush, the floor is kind of flooded so that everything goes into the hole.
It was unlike anything I had ever seen before and I can’t say I was a fan. I actually would have preferred an old school outhouse, but I’m sure there is a reason they do it the way they do.
Then disaster hit. My mom had done so well on the trek then at camp she slipped and fell. She didn’t just fall ,she hit her tailbone on a rock. We were in the middle of nowhere Peru and she hurt herself pretty bad. We didn’t know how bad (we now know she either fractured or dislocated her tailbone) but she was determined to keep going. There aren’t many choices at that point. You either keep going or they strap you to the back of a porter who will take you to the end.
Aside from my mom’s fall I wasn’t crazy about the last part of the second day. The view from our tent was amazing.
However, the setup had us hiking for eight hours before having lunch.
Then we just hung around in our tent for three hours waiting for dinner and then it was time to go to bed. It felt like the gap between breakfast and lunch was too big and the gap between lunch and dinner was way too small. I wish lunch had been more evenly balanced between breakfast and dinner.
Luckily for my mom our guide had some pain meds for her tailbone. We went to bed early because once again we had to get up at 5:30, so we could have breakfast at 6 and leave by 6:45. And wouldn’t you know it my feet were cold again. Despite the fact that I took off my wet hiking socks when we go to camp and put dry ones on my feet were still cold. Once again I found myself wearing five pairs of socks but at least this time I knew that is what it would take for my feet to be warm.
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