Inca Trail Day 2 - Below us only Clouds

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
In a tent somewhere on the Inca trail

Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Thursday, December 30, 2010

We were woken up by the porters at 5.30am with tea and warm water and towels. It was dry this morning so we took our time getting ready – packing our bags up for the porters and eating breakfast (I think we were trying to put off the inevitable).  Today we got delicious fruit porridge and pancakes – more than needed as today we would be facing the infamous 'Dead Woman's Pass’ the highest point on the trek at a whopping 4200m – ouch (bear in mind we started at about 2300 so 1.9km vertical height gained not including the downhill. To give you an idea we climbed snowdon twice in 1.5 days started from a height over twice that of snowdon itself... its a bit mind boggling but you get my drift)  Even though we didn’t feel it yesterday we were so glad that we had done the extra few kilometres uphill yesterday psychologically if not physically.  I have to mention the toilets at this campsite – they were squat toilets – fine no problem with them – but obviously someone on the site had, the back of the toilet was absolutely covered in crap – how on earth can you miss, and if you do clean it up for god’s sake  (I immediately started to wonder which one of Llama dung had done it).  I only wanted a wee and I nearly lost my breakfast.  Not the nicest start to the day I can tell you.  Anyway we faced our fears and got going – the steps were almost immediate and steep.  Local women were running passed us though with sack fulls of drinks and snacks that they wanted to sell at the next rest point (I did wonder why they didn’t just save themselves the trouble and try to sell to us on the path).  We eventually got to the rest area which was home to a herd of llama and had a rest, some snacks and a power aid drink there were also humming birds everywhere that I chased around the trees trying to get a good photo – I failed.  We got chatting to a guy from one of the other groups who told us that 2 out of his group had already quit – on the first day – they were the couple we saw on horseback that we were so envious of, and two others were likely to quit today as they had been in tears all morning. 

When we had summoned up the energy we tackled Dead Woman’s Pass which was as horrific as it sounds – the altitude didn’t help either and poor Cara ended up gasping for breath – she nearly needed the oxygen that Bill was carrying.  We were well and truly above cloud level twice over at this stage and it was great to watch the mist rising and falling and swathing itself around the mountain valleys.  After a lot of effort we made it to the top of the pass where the temperature was freezing.  We had a quick photo – to prove to myself later that I had actually done it, then started our descent down the other side.  In contradiction to everything I believed this section was just as hard as going up – not cardiovascularly this time but on the old legs.  The porters were literally running passed us in the pouring rain while we hobbled along.  The steps were really steep and as it was raining slippery in parts so I was extra careful knowing how clumsy I can be.  We arrived at camp for lunch – having completed Dead Woman’s Pass and the just as painful descent most people camp here but no old Bill had other plans for us and after a three course lunch (including chocolate sauce) we were off again after descending a kilometre to climb back up to 200m short of the height that we had been to Abra De Runkuracay (4000m) (Andrew edit - again we have dropped 2/3 the height of snowdon before climbing half of it again from a base height of 3600m it is a bit mind boggling looking back, no wonder it was hard work).  On the way we passed Runkuracay another ruin which had great views of the camp site where we had just come from and people still arriving for lunch.  We were all chomping on coca leaves for all we were worth to try to give us all something extra to get us through it all our legs had started to burn.  Somehow we all got to the top and Bill told us that this pass was a holy place for offerings to the Gods so we all indulged him and placed a few coca leaves each under a rock as an offering to the Inca Gods.  Maybe they would shine on us.  Andrew climbed a huge boulder and I made him stand up to take his photo, it was only when I got to the other side afterwards that I realised how dangerous it was – it was a sheer drop.

Yet another steep set of steps on the way down through jungle which had the most amazing orchids, bright pink and orange – beautiful.  Before we reached our camp for the night we visited another ruin which had good examples of ritual baths and irrigation.  Sweet.  Our camp was on a much better camp than the night before – the ground was actually flat, no chance of rolling in to the side of the tent overnight here.  We were told that the view from here was amazing but there was so much mist that we couldn’t see a thing – maybe tomorrow when we got up.  Dinner was another treat, we had soup, trout, rice and stuffed peppers which were delicious.  Actually having a couple of vegetarians isn’t so bad we haven’t been starved of meat or anything.  The only thing that I did struggle with was the celery tea that was served up.  I hate celery.  However don’t be too concerned about me dear reader the rum fruit punch made up for my liquid intake – fruity too that’s one food group covered.  We could hear Llama Dung over on the other camp strip, naturally they had arrived before us, so we all conspired against them and planned trip wires and booby traps for tomorrow – the fact we had no tools for the job really didn’t matter – as long as we thought it it appeased us a little.  We slept more soundly in our beds knowing that the worst was over and done with and perhaps the rum punch helped.
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