We survived the Inca Trail!!!

Trip Start Apr 25, 2006
Trip End May 31, 2006

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hello everyone and of course Go Oilers!!!

Well we made it, after three long days of hiking we made it to Machu Pichu. The first day of hiking was fairly easy, we did about 7km on fairly flat trail with one stop at an ancient archeological site. Day two was much more difficult as we faced the first mountain pass on the trail, a 1500m elevation change from our first camp site. It took about 3.5 hours of uphill hiking for us to reach the top of the pass which has an elevation of 4250m above sea level. We could really notice the elevation as we approached the top. Walk 1 minute, rest 1 minute, completly out of breath. The second half of day two was a 1 hour down hill portion which brought us to our second campsite in time for lunch and an ice cold shower. Day three began with a short climb over a second mountain pass with stops at some ruins along the way. Then a long winding portion leading the the third and final pass. The end of day three consisted of 3 hours of downhill walking down some fairly step stone stairs. It was probably the worst part of the whole trail as it was very hard on the knees. It was a long day covering over 20km. After a short sleep beside a very angry river, we were up at 3:30 am to hike the last portion of the trail, along the railway tracks into Aguas Calientes to catch on of the first buses up to Machu Pichu. We unfortunately could not walk straight to Machu Pichu as a recent rock slide wiped out a part of the trail and it was too dangerous to attempt to cross.

Along the trail we ate like kings with more food than any of us could handle. It was incredible the dishes that our chef was able to create and all of the food the porters packed up the hill. Speaking of porters, god bless their little big hearts and little legs of pure muscle. We had nothing at all to worry about, we would get to camp and our tents would be set up and food ready for our arrival. The also carried 5 kg of our personal belongings (Mainly your sleeping bag and a change of clothes) leaving us to worry about our own day bags and that was all. The worse job would have to be the porter carrying the propane tank. It was much more than I was ever expecting and yes I will admit we were spoiled but we did leave them a very generous tip. It was a big help not to have to worry about things when dealing with elements such as altitude that we were not used to.

About Machu Pichu, what an incredible place. When we arrived, it was cloudy and the city was hidden in the fog. So we sat and waited, and suddenly as things warmed up, one building, then another and all of a sudden a huge city appeared out of the clouds. We went for a tour of the ruins with our tour guide thoughout the entire expidition Julio. Julio is the man, he took good care of us and is very passionate about his heritage. An amazing fact is that he learned english by listening to Rod Stewart!! Anyways we enjoyed his to the point and honest attitude, he would tell things as they were and if he didn´t know, he wouldn´t be afraid to let us know. One of the interesting facts about the incas is that all that is known about then is what a few historians at the time recorded and the information is very incomplete. Hence the mystery in some of the things we say. And if hiking for three days wasn´t enough for us, we also climed to the top of Wayna Pichu, famous mountain in the background of all Machu Pichu pictures. It was a very steep climb but the view from the top was well worth the extra effort.

We took a combination of train and bus back to Cusco yesterday and were completely exhausted. Today we took a 7 hour bus ride to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Tomorrow we are off early to go on a boat ride to some of the islands in the lake.

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