Multi-Trek to Aguas Calientes Part 1

Trip Start Jan 06, 2012
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Thursday, January 26, 2012

This trek (well the Inca Trail ideally) is something I have been talking about doing for quite a while. It goes without saying that I was extremely excited to get this underway. We all woke up early and waited outside our hostel for our guide to pick us up. He never showed. This was a sign of things to come. We walked to the town square of Cuzco and met our group and the other guide in front of our tour agency building. After a lot of waiting around, the guide that was supposed to pick us up not showing again, and sitting in our cramped van we finally left. We took a 3 hour bus ride through the Andes that had amazing views around every corner. The scenery was unreal.

At the top of the Andes the van finally stopped and away went the sun and on came the pouring rain. The guides hopped out and started unloading our bikes while we all threw on a few layers, including ponchos. Obviously, Brittany looked terrified and I knew this was the exact opposite of how this multi-trek needed to get started. Choosing a helmet and bike was difficult so I knew the long cruise down a mountain in the cold rain was going to be next to impossible. Within 5 minutes of starting on our way down the group was already out of sight. We were moving EXTREMELY slow and the conditions were not improving at all. One side of the road was a long drop over the edge of the mountain, and the other side was a 3 foot concrete ditch to funnel the water down the mountain. Not much room for error. We made it for about 45 minutes, at which point I'm sure the rest of the group was over 15 miles ahead of us. Soaking wet and freezing cold we got back in the van that had been following us and made the rest of the trek down the mountain drying out and warming up. A for Effort right?

After meeting back up with Bryan I found out that the rain stopped about 30 minutes into their ride and the temperature got much warmer. I’m not sure how far away from this we were, but at least we did part of it. We ate some lunch and finished our drive in the van to our hostel. Early dinner and early bed time were both a must as we had two days of hiking in front of us before reaching Aguas Calientes.

When we woke up the next morning for breakfast, the weather had drastically improved. It was nice and warm and very sunny. On our walk to breakfast the road was still full of mud and puddles from all the rain the day before. To quote Brittany’s blog: "I instantly stepped in a puddle of mud and drenched my Nike Shox". This is about as far from accurate as a simple incident like this could be. Stepping down from the sidewalk to the road was about a 14 inch drop off. She tried to scale this mini cliff and instead tripped and caught herself before falling, but unfortunately had stumbled into this mud puddle. This stumble combined with numerous other near falls in Cuzco (blamed on her sandals snagging the cobblestone walk ways) really set the expectations low for her hiking abilities. I knew the next two days were going to more mentally exhausting than anything.  I could not have been more correct.

We ate our “cheese omelettes” (MAYBE a sprinkle of cheese in these things) and geared up for the hike. I would estimate that my bag weighed about 35 pounds. I had packed a few t-shirts, a hoodie, an alpaca beanie, a regular hat, board shorts, and some boxers and socks. I also had my camera, ipod, laptop (didn’t want to leave this at the hostel in Cuzco for a week), and some first aid/medicine type supplies. Combine that stuff with 2 bottles of water and it’s a decent amount of weight to carry.  

We left the breakfast spot and walked for about 40 minutes along a flat road that used to be in the main part of town, which was destroyed in a flood and never rebuilt. At this point we were already lagging the group and Brit was already “hot and tired”. I took her backpack from her (adding another 20-25 lbs) and we tried to catch up to the group. Definitely going to be a long day. Once we got to the real jungle terrain things started to get a bit more difficult. We were now walking on much thinner paths with inclines and declines and stairs, in the humid jungle. As time went by we were further and further behind the group, at points unable to even see them. By the time we finally caught up, the group had stopped for about 15-20 minutes to rest, and as we arrived, stood up to continue the hike. This would be the theme for the next 9 hours. We would only catch up to the group when they stopped to rest, then as we arrived they would get up and keep moving. We never got to stop for more than 2-3 minutes because we were always so far behind.

As we emerged from the jungle the scenery was truly unreal. We were overlooking long stretches of valley, and winding river with rapids, with the peaks of the Andes as the back drop. To accompany this beautiful scenery, we were cursed with much more difficult terrain, and large drop offs down the mountain to help with Brittany’s fear of heights. There were very steep stairs carved out of the side of the mountain, “bridges” made of tree branches over tributaries to the river, large boulders, and even a metal basket hanging from a braided steel cable to cross the main river. The day was seriously worse than the torturous bus ride. Bryan and I took turns carrying Brittany’s backpack and camera along with our own crap. We moved unbelievably slow, and were unable to stop. I honestly did not think we were going to make it to lunch.

When we finally got to our lunch spot I told our guide that we would be taking the bus/taxi to the hostel and meet with them for dinner once they were finished with the rest of the hike. A little background on this: When we booked the multi-trek the agent assured us that the terrain was very easy, there should be no issue with fear of heights, and if at any time we needed a bus or taxi and couldn’t continue, it could be arranged. Our tour guide told us that this was impossible as we were essentially in the middle of nowhere. The only way to get to the hostel was to continue with the hike, which was much EASIER after lunch. This was another lie, as after lunch the terrain was actually probably more difficult as you are already extremely tired and wobbly (possibly from carrying 50-65 pounds for the first half of the day). The trend of the group getting way ahead and no rest for us continued. At one point we would have lost our way if it weren’t for some other girls in the group being behind as well. They were a decent distance from us, but could see us turn in the wrong direction and began yelling at us. You can imagine how pissed I was by this point that the guides had not split up so that one could be our full time escort.

When we finally finished our hike we were relieved and rewarded by hot springs. These are no ordinary hot springs like in Yellowstone. These were natural hot springs with pools built around them. Very fitting after the physical beating we took all day. After hot springs we took a van to our hostel. It quickly got dark as we approached the hostel and found out that the towns electricity had gone out. Our room was lit with a single candle. Fortunately Bryan and I had quite a few flashlights. We went to our group candlelight dinner and I gladly drank a few shots of Inca Tequilla, a beer, and some rum and pineapple juice concoction that we made before leaving the hostel! After that, SLEEP.  
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brittanyb on

What a nice boyfriend....

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