The sixth day of my trip to Peru was the third day of the Inca Trail. I had always been a little nervous about this day because the literary for our trek had always said this day would include ten to eleven hours of hiking…that after already hiking and camping for two days!
Once again we started out very early. The cook and porters woke us up 5:30 am and breakfast was at 6 am. Breakfast was excellent and I managed to get going a little bit faster than the day before.
My mom on the other hand was having a difficult time. Her fall the night before was slowing her down a bit. Just like the day before our Dutch travel companion, Kees, was so excited to get going that he could barely contain himself.
The previous day had taken us from our highest point of the trek into a valley. That meant the third day of the trek immediately had us climbing up to the second highest point of the trek. It was not easy to get going straight up a mountain after so much hiking already but we did it.
I didn’t waste any time in listening to my I-POD, which I relied on for most of the third day of the trek.
Just like the day before I was pleased with my fitness level going up. I passed Kees pretty quickly. As had happened the previous day his bravado had turned out to be all talk. He started struggling within the first ten minutes of climbing. After pausing for a break and to let my mom catch up to me I found out how much she was struggling due to her fall. My mom is normally very proud and wants to prove she can do anything so the fact that she let our guide, Marco, carry her backpack for her showed how much her tailbone was hurting her. It was a little amusing to see him carrying his backpack on his back while carrying my mom’s backpack his front.
I know that the third day might have been impossible for my mom without Marco’s help and I will forever be grateful to him for allowing my mom to continue on her dream trip.
As we climbed the second highest peak of the trek there were some great Incan Ruins to check out.
I got to the top before everybody else and was able to take a nice long break. That is probably the best thing about being in the lead, you get longer breaks when you stop to let everybody else catch up. The views from the top of the second peak were absolutely amazing.
Of course what goes up must come down. Just like the day before I put on my knee straps as we began to head down the second pass. It was stairs, stairs and more stairs all day long. I really can’t stress enough how many you stairs you have to climb and go down on the third day of the Inca Trail.
Luckily, my knees held up really well going down the second pass and I did not encounter any of the altitude sickness I had the day before.
There was a great set of Inca ruins at the bottom of the second pass. Me, mom and Marco checked them out and after navigating yet another set of stairs.
Kees, on the other hand, was really struggling at that point with his two bad knees. He decided not to tackle those stairs and head to the stop where we were going to eat lunch.
I’m really glad we stopped at the ruins because they were really impressive.
After visiting the ruins we had to have the extra challenge of going down the set of stairs the next little bit of hiking before lunch.
It was nice to have lunch evenly break up the day (unlike the da before). As always lunch was very good but by that point I was already a little tired. We had already hiked four about four hours and as it turns out we weren’t even halfway to hour next campsite. So off we went…again.
Immediately after lunch we began to climb the third and final pass of the trek. This one was much easier than the other two and was very different. The third pass was in a rainforest so the vegetation was very lush.
It was also on the third pass that we encountered the first of the Incan tunnels, where we had to navigate more of their famous stairs but this time in a tunnel. It was hard but also very cool.
Just like with the first two passes I was the first of our group to reach the top of the third pass.
It was around this time that I started to get a little over it. I was starting to get tired but we still had several hours ahead of us. I think Kees was totally over it and in agony with his knees.
The immediate descent from the third peak was, of course, more stairs. There was another amazing set of Incan Ruins to check out. This one really showed off their spectacular water transportation system.
After the last set of Incan Ruins the day just seemed to drag on and on. Sometimes my music was on and sometimes my music was off. Sometimes I counted my steps and sometimes I just walked. Sometimes I was in the lead and sometimes I wasn’t. One thing remained the same, stairs, stairs and more stairs.
One thing was changing though…we were running out of sunlight.
As I became my tired I came close to joining my mom on the injured list. The previous day I had crunched my left ankle a little. On that third day I crunched my left ankle twice and my right ankle once (almost really bad). It may sound like I was clumsy but I was just tired. After the last ankle crunch I slowed down letting Kees take the lead. I was ahead of my mom and Marco and by myself a lot. I just tried to focus on walking and being present in my body.
I ended up finding a spot behind another group and relied on them for their flashlights as the light faded. Finally, it was getting so dark that I had to stop and get my own flashlight out my backpack. As it turns around the next corner I was the start of our final campground.
Still, I need my flashlight because I had to wait for my mom and Marco. They arrived about five minutes later once it was completely dark.
We all so tired and our campsite was in a back corner of the campground which meant it took us about another ten minutes to get to it. When we finally go to the campsite I was so tired. I just wanted to sleep (in a bed). I felt so dirty and so gross.
At dinner Mom, Marco and Kees were talking and laughing. I, however, was so tired that my leg was shaking and I just wanted to tell them all to shut up.
After dinner the pressure was kind of on to fall asleep because the next morning we weren’t being woken up at 5:30 am…we were being woken up at 3:30 am so that we could begin hiking at 4:45 am! Thankfully, we were at a much lower elevation our last night of camping so I “only” needed two pairs of socks and I could even sleep in my sweatpants and a t-shirt.
I thought about how it was only 6 pm back in Los Angeles. I wondered what my husband was doing and I thought about how we were getting up at 3:30 am…I realized that if I was back in LA that would make it 1:30 am and I’d probably just be going to bed.
Luckily, I was able to fall asleep pretty easily…I should have because on that third day of the Inca Trail we hiked for ten hours.
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