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Inca trail death hike: Day 3

I have not showered for 3 days now. My hair is nasty as hell. I bundle & hide it all in my hat (hmm..I seem to be doing this a lot in South America). I am soooo glad Day 2 is over. So, what is Day 3 like? Day 3 is actually the longest part of the Inca trail. After 100x of the same descending stone trail steps, I was beginning to fantasize about getting pounced on by a puma & wrestling it to the ground with my walking stick. There were a lot more interesting Inca sites along the trail. Some say Day 3 is the most unforgettable part of the trail.

Highlights: Very cool Inca sites along the way.
Cast of Characters: Me & my fellow trekkers. See previous posts. I was the only solo trekker in the group. Being a solo straggler on the Inca trail is not the most fun thing in the world.
Logistics/ Links: Inca trail packlist, Peru treks, Inca trail day 1, Inca trail day 2, 
Inca trail Day 4
When: May 9, 2012. Weather was perfect! Before I left for South America, I was constantly checking online weather reports. They all say its raining. There were a lot of clouds but it hardly rained the whole time I was there. So do not be deceived by online weather reports.
Location: Classic Inca trail, Peru
Cost: Around $600 or less for the whole Classic 4 day Inca trail
Trip Report: The mountains are beautiful. I think I would appreciate them more on a 2 day trail. Lol. I'm just kidding. If you're interested on doing the Classic Inca trail pilgrimage, there's an amazing feeling of accomplishment once you've survived the whole thing. I'm discovering more & more about myself. I now know my physical boundaries & that I have masochistic tendencies. Lol! Just kidding.

After breakfast, we had a little porter appreciation event. These guys are seriously amazing!!! They run through the trail with those massive 60lb sack on their back. It was freaky! I think the youngest porter is like 19 & the oldest is in his 50's. By the way, the record for the fastest completion of Inca trail is 3-1/2 hours. F*** me. Anyway, back to the porters. Some of my fellow trekkers are fluent in Spanish & translated for everyone as we each introduced ourselves & expressed our gratitude for all the porters hard work. The guides in turn told us a tidbit about themselves- their names, where they're from, age. I like how the tour company treats their employees. The current porter regulations set limits on how much weight they carry. In the old days, the porters carried 60 kilos, not 60 lbs. It was crazy.

We all get a move on as quickly as possible. The first part of the trail is an uphill of about 200m (roughly a 65 story building). There were fantastic views along the first sections of the trail. It was a mix of ascent/ descent throughout. We got to the top of a mountain pass. Our guide Edwin, gathered us to a little spot for a coca leaf ceremony. I thought it was one of the coolest parts of the trip- learning about Peruvian's ancient beliefs, culture & spirituality. I did not have a guide elsewhere in Peru so I was lucky Edwin explained everything I needed to know over the Inca trail hike.

After lunch break, the trail rapidly became super boring. We had a couple more hours to go & all I could see are the same descending flights of stone steps. We were trying to walk a lot faster too. Edwin offered the group an option to hike to another Inca site which would add 30+ more minutes. The whole group roared "YEAH"!!! Luckily I was soo far behind, it was obviously out of the question for me. I got to the campsite right before it got dark. I collapsed in my tent & rested before our fabulous dinner.

OMG! Our dinner! So our meals have always been fantabulous! But for our last night together it was even more crazy! Edwin informed everyone it was our fellow hiker Mary's birthday. A few minutes later, our awesome chef brings in a birthday cake!!! A birthday cake!!! How on earth do you come up with a birthday cake while camping?! No electricity, no ovens, nowhere near civilization. How?!?! They could not have packed it from 3 days ago. I'm at a loss as to how they came up with those fancy meals before, now they just really outdid themselves with a cake. That was awesome.

We had a little parting ceremony with our porters after dinner because they have to leave early to catch a train home. Everyone formed a little circle around the dining tent as we said goodbye to all of them. Edwin told us of a Peruvian word for goodbye. I can't quite remember it, it has no translation in English. It means goodbye & we will see each other again whether its here on Earth, heaven or underworld. It was very cool.

Day 3 hike is a total of 15kms. ~1,200m descent & about 200m ascent. Now for Machu Picchu! Yes!!
Getting ready to leave

View of the mountain gods from our camp site

Our Inca trail team!

Ancient Inca checkpoints along the way

This was an ancient Inca temple. Actually, a lot of info about Machu Picchu and the Incan sites are assumptions. These places were all abandoned when they discovered them. Artifacts provided clues on how Incans lived.

Some llamas chilling out

Coca leaf ceremony

We held the 3 leaves & blew on them. One blow for each direction of the sacred mountains surrounding the pass. We put a little stone we brought from the start of the trail on top of the leaves. The stone represents our wishes. The coca leaf ceremony is beautiful.

The stones represent our wishes over the 3 coca leaves (heaven, earth & underworld). We leave this at the top of the sacred mountain.

Bah! More uphill.

The crew taking in the fantastic views

Hiking in the clouds at the Inca trail.

Very essential walking stick

Ancient Inca temple

This is pretty much what 95% of Day 3 looked like. A series of endless, uneven massive stone steps. I'm just glad it wasn't raining. That would totally suck.

There were some tunnels along the way.

Cool Inca site

Perky llama

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