The Gem - Machu Picchu (Part 2)

Trip Start Jun 25, 2009
Trip End Jul 05, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So after walking around Machu Picchu and absorbing all its splendor, we ended up at the Sacred Rock.  It's a place waaaaay over to one side of the site that provides an entry point to a mountain neighboring the Machu Picchu site, Huayna Picchu.  It was about 10AM at this point and were were supposed to get back to Aguas Calientes for our 2PM train ride to Ollantaytambo.  After being advised by the dude at the gate that the hike would only take 1.5 hours, Rowena and I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

First, young kids aren't allowed on this hike since it's pretty treacherous.  On top of that, they've got this huge board saying that you must be fit, have no heart conditions or similar ailments that could possibly kill you doing this hike.  I thought to myself, it can't be that bad.  Boy was I wrong.  One of the first things you have to do is sign a log.  I took this as, if you die, they know what your name is.  Rowena was trying to be funny and snapped a shot of the log to show that I was the oldest grampa to do it.  Ha ha, funny, really funny.

Along the way, there was a fork in the trail with a sign pointing at Big or Small.  I turn to Rowena and ask her, "which way?" secretly hoping she would pick "small" since I did just see a wonder of the world (what could possibly top that right now) and my old 40 year old joints were kinda creaking AND we've been hiking for days already.  Guess what?  Without ANY hesitation she says "BIG!" with a huge grin on her face and sheer enthusiasm dumped on top.  Damn, I thought, how can you beat that attitude.  So I replied, "how can you say no to that?" And off we went.

The trail starts off all nice and cozy, having you plot along at your leisure bending back tree branches along the way.  From there it was down a mini-ravine and back up to the other side.  That's when the real shit started.  Jagged rocks, steep angles, aching muscles, a cable SOMETIMES to hang to.  Periodically, I would stop people on the way down and ask them how much further it was to go... they all responded, "20 minutes, but don't worry, it's worth it."  I swear it was almost like a recording.  No matter where we were in the damn trail, it was always 20 minutes more.

2 grueling hours later, Rowena and I made it!  We chilled at the very top of the peak on some boulders, then checked out the mini-ruins up there.  On the way out, we followed the white arrows labeled "Salida" (exit).  At one point, the trail made its way down these super duper hairy, crumbling, made for dwarves, no hand rail, one slip and you dead mutha fucka so-called steps.  One side was the wall of the mini-ruins, the other was an appointment with God.  I ask Rowena, "shall we back-track it out Honey?"  Her response, "No, let's do it!" with the same lack of hesitation and the same amount of massive amount of enthusiasm.  My thoughts?  "What the fuck?  Are you fuckin' insane?"  The words out of my mouth?  "Let's do it!"  Hell yea I was scared, but I ain't backin' down if that lil' filipino girl is game.

30 minutes later (I shit you not) of clinging for dear life, my finger nails practically bleeding from the amount of force I exerted on my fingers, all the while dragging my ass down those crazy ass steps, we made it out of there and back onto the trail.  For fear of my life, I didn't get a chance to snap some photos of those steps so you're going to have to take my word for it.  Ask Rowena how hairy it was.  Well, better not, she'll probably say she was hop skotching it all the way down. :)

Back on the trail, we would meet up with hikers heading up in the opposite direction.  A couple of them would stop and ask me, how much further?  My reply?  You guessed it, "20 minutes more, but it's worth it."
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