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Inca trail death hike: Day 2

Our day started super early. The guides woke us up with a choice of coffee, hot coca tea or hot chocolate. Mmm! I can get used to this. It's 5:30am. Our guide Edwin said the first day is a gauge of our hiking pace. If we were super slow, everyone would have to wake up at 3:30am! Since I'm really the only slow person in the group, I told him to just get me started early & wake everyone else up at the usual time. He just laughed. Ok. After finishing my hot coffee, I got my things ready. It was still dark outside as I unzipped my tent & looked around. The campsite was surrounded by mountains & clouds.

Highlights: We managed to survive day 2- which means we just hiked the combined height of the Burj Khalifa & The Petronas towers! No easy feat! =O 
Cast of Characters: We hiked with Peru Treks. Their company has at least 3 different groups of hikers split up among the guides & porters. Each group has about ~16 trekkers + ~20 employees (porters, guides). I was with a group of Americans & we were all pretty much the same age.
Logistics/ Links: Inca trail pack list, Peru Treks, Inca trail day 1, Inca trail day 3, Inca trail day 4, Wiki, Unesco
When: May 8, 2012. Beautiful weather! Mucho perfecto!
Location: Classic Inca trail, Peru
Cost: I spent about ~$600 for the 4d/3n hike. This includes food, guides, transport, tickets, porters, tips, camping gear...I got a tent all to myself because Mel flaked out! No problem for me. My tent size was perfect for 1 person (my size). The 2 person tent looked only about 20% bigger & my fellow hikers were pretty tall so I don't know how comfy they were.
Trip Report: I have begun to dread any place that has the word 'Pass' on it. Dead Woman's pass was a bitch! A fellow hiker said they made the first day the easiest so you can't turn back on the most dreaded 2nd day. After breakfast, I was already getting anxious about the trail. Our guide Edwin is fantastic. He emphasized to everybody that this was not a race & that people should hike at their own pace. After we finished packing up, he gave a little speech of encouragement, huddled everyone to put our hands together and we all shouted "mierda". I forgot his explanation, all I remember is- the word means 'shit'.


Baby steps, baby steps. Edwin taught everyone how its more efficient to take smaller steps as this lets you take less breaks. I took small baby steps and took soo many breaks. Lol. I don't really care if I'm always the last in the group. I just know if I pushed myself harder, I would definitely not make it. The first half of the second day was nothing but incline. I was gasping for air the whole time. The coca leaves were not helping. I should have taken some sorochi pills (altitude sickness pills). We climbed up 1,200 m. I think it took me about ~7hrs. There's a rest stop every 2 hrs (poopy squat toilets & water vendors). I keep thinking to myself- ok! If I can make this, the rest will be cakewalk (HA! Hahhahahahah *maniacal laugh*)

The ascent is made up of uneven stone steps 1'-2' high. Damn them ancient Incans. Edwin said this is the perfect day to plug in those iPods to help you get movin'. Argh. I left mine because I thought it would just be deadweight when the battery dies. Now you know. Save them for the 2nd day. The trail can be lonely for stragglers like me. I was also the only solo traveler in our group. Everyone else was with their friends or partners. Oh well. I got to chat with some other slowpokes from other groups en route. There was one city girl who went on the hike with her bf. I think she's the only other person in the whole trail that's at the same pace I am. Her bf walked fast. At one point along the trail, he waited for her to catch up. He was trying to help her & she smacked his hand away. Lol. Yep, the trail is lonely for stragglers.

There's 3 excruciatingly hard sections (2hrs each). At the last leg, after the difficult incline, lunch is served. I got there sooo late, everyone was already done. It's pretty funny whenever I arrive at the campsite, the whole group claps & cheers. I'm half embarassed & half encouraged. Lol. Hooray! The uphill part is kind of over. Now for the downhill.

They call the downhill the gringo killer. I prefer least I thought I did. *maniacal laugh again as I lose my mind*. After climbing up 1,200m- it is now time to descend 600m (that's almost the whole height of Burj Khalifa). Sigh. I will survive! I'm just glad I made it through Dead Woman's pass & that the altitude is gonna be less from here on forward. Downhill presented a different set of challenges. It engages muscles you did not even know existed. Lol. I could feel my toes hitting my shoes. I got toe bruises & blisters in no time. I think the walking sticks slow me down, but they are essential for stability. Its very easy to twist your ankles from the uneven trail. Jimmy, our 2nd guide, was keeping an eye on me to make sure I was fine. Going downhill, you can kind of see the trail terrain ahead of you. Only a dozen more mountains to go, we'll be there in no time!(*sarcasm).

I arrived at the campsite around 4 or 5 I think. My fellow hikers got there (seems like) 2 hrs earlier than I did. They were hanging out at the dining tent laughing & telling stories. I seriously do not know where they get their energy. Just when I thought all the hiking is over, there's even more hiking just around the campsite. You have to hike to go to the toilets, to go to your tent, to go to the dining tent. Aaaaggghh!!!! I was super drained & exhausted. I was coughing (you know the pre-vomit kind of cough) from extreme exhaustion. Jimmy got a look of concern & quickly helped me with my things as I struggled to walk to my tent. Fortunately I did not throw up. I collapsed, slept & was able to get up in time for dinner.

The meals are always fantastic. I do not know how they come up with the spread. Because everything is just carried on the porters backs & here we are with 3 course dinners & desert too! Hmm. I usually have an enormous appetite after some hours of hard work but my exhaustion was at another level altogether. I actually had no appetite! =O  That is pretty rare. After dinner, we had some hot tea & crashed at our tents.

Day 2 hike is a total of 12kms. ~1,200m ascent (height of ~4,200m) & about 600m descent. The worst day is over. Hallelujah!
There's literally mountains & mountains to conquer.

Keep chewing your coca leaves! I stopped for a break to refill. I offered some to a porter walking by. He gratefully took a few pieces. He accidentally dropped a leaf or 2 on the dirt ground. He spent like a minute looking for it. And the coca leaf looked just like all the other dried leaves on the dirt ground. I was thinking- it's just 1 leaf. I thought all locals have easy access to coca leaves, no?

Start of the trail. 2nd day- here we come!

Heading into the cloud forest

Cute little Peruvian kid. Their kids are sooo cute!

Kill me now!

Jungle trail

We passed by some rivers along the way. I met some Argentinian tourists. Argentinians must be rich! They're the only South American tourists I met while traveling Peru & Bolivia.

Ancient Peruvians worshiped mountain gods. The majesty of the Andean cordillera is definitely undeniable.

Those porters are freakin' amazing! They carry like 60lbs. My fellow travelers are super freaks too. This is how much of a wuss I am- my fellow hikers carried their own backpacks(weight ranging from 20-35 lbs), did not use porters & all were walking much faster than me.

Alien spawn plant

At one of the rest stops to Dead Woman's pass
Sheep grazing

Rest stop

Wild orchids. Jimmy points out wild orchids we see along the way.

F***n mountains. Heheh! =P

Eeeep! Wear bug juice!

This is the last section of the incline to Dead Woman's pass. The air gets really thin & chilly. It was torture!


Maybe not

The gringo killer descent. My knees will never be the same.

What was going on in my head at the time? "Holy F***!!!!"

1 comment:

  1. The Dakota Rail Trail is a perfect example of what people look for. It's long, so you can get a lot out of it before the trail runs out on you. You aren't limited by having only a short distance to cover.

    It's mostly flat, so you don't need to worry about encountering any nasty bumps that will send you flying. If someone is looking for the challenge of a hill run, this certainly isn't the best option out there for them but it still offers a lot of challenge.

    The topper is the beautiful scenery that you have the chance to enjoy.


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