Inca Trail Day 2 - Dead woman at Dead Woman´s Pass

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2008

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Flag of Peru  ,
Saturday, November 3, 2007

We had been hearing about the second day of the Inca Trail since Lima.  It was supposed to be a killer.  A long, steep ascent to Dead Womanīs Pass at 4200 meters, the highest point on the trail.  Then a long, steep descent down to the campsite.  Erin had not been very positive about this idea for a very long time.  She didnīt think she could do it.  But here we were.

We had the option of hiring an extra porter to carry our bags for this day.  Erin decided not to do this.  A mix of stubborness and pride perhaps.  But she was going to make it up that hill.  Surprisingly, there was no rain again today, and it looked to be another beautiful day.  Being in the rainy season and all, we got really lucky yet again.  The question was really how long the rain would hold off.

It is tradition on the trail to be served coca tea first thing in the morning in your tent.  Like room service.  The tea is in a metal cup and very hot.  Erin burns her finger.  But itīs kind of nice.  Breakfast is also good.  We have a big pancake, fruit, granola, and yogurt.  Our guide gathers us together for the morning pep talk.  He explains that there are two resting points up the mountain, both about an hour and a half apart.  Then a final two hour stretch to the pass.  So about five hours of climbing uphill.  Followed by another two hours down.  We leave around 6:30 in the morning.  Itīs pretty obvious that we canīt keep up with the rest of the group while going uphill.  They donīt carry their packs either.  Itīs going to be a long day.  We watch them chug out of sight and then begin the slow trek uphill.  There are a lot of people trying to reach the pass.  We pass some and they pass us.  We adopt a system where we time how long we walk before we have a break.  We start out at fifteen minutes for a five minute break.  This rapidly diminishes until I stop timing because Erin needs to pause for a breather every two or three minutes.  We reach the first resting stop and find that most of the group has already moved on ahead.  But we did it in an hour and that wasnīt bad.

Manuel stays behind us and tries not to catch up as we resume towards the second resting point.  About here we reach the stone stairs, which make everything a little harder.  Erin does not like stairs.  She tells me so.  A lot.  But she keeps on going.

We reach the second resting point in about an hour an 20 minutes.  The only thing remaining is the pass.  We can look down and see the campsite were we started in the morning.  It looks very far away.  We continue onwards.

It was a pretty hard uphill slog.  Itīs made even worse by the fact that thereīs a false summit, so what you think is the top really isnīt.  When we reached this point we could finally see the little dots standing at the pass a little higher up.  Erin thought the dots looked very far away.  But she keeps on going.

We staggered up the last few steps and finally stood at the pass around noon.  Five and a half hours with a backpack.  Erin had every right to be proud.  But not too much energy.  We still had to go down.  We didnīt stay at the pass very long.  Manuel had a sense of how far behind we were and didnīt want us to come in too late.  So we enjoyed the view for a little while, had a snack, took some pictures, and then moved on.     

Now a big staircase led down from the pass to the bottom of the valley.  This was better because it wasnīt up, but it still was challenging to navigate.  The uneven rocks and steps made it very likely that Erin was going to twist another ankle.  But we made it down without too many problems.  It was interesting to watch the porters practically run down the steps with sandals and 25 kilos on their backs.  We stumbled into camp around 1:30.  A very respectable time actually.  We just had a really fast group.  They had made it into camp at 11:20.  A full two hours ahead of us.  They were halfway through lunch when we joined.  Only a little embarrassing.  But we could secretly hold onto the fact that we went with our packs and went slowly to ĻsavorĻ the experience. 

Lunch involved a smelly piece of chicken that no one wanted to eat.  I thought it was good.  And some hot jelly made from chicha morada (the bubble-gum stuff).  We took a much needed nap in the tent before happy hour at 5.  They made popcorn for us, and we had hot chocolate and cookies.  It was pretty nice.  The group of us played a rowdy game of cards until dinner, a rice stir-fry. 

Then an early bed-time.  We had survived Dead Womanīs Pass.


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