The following blog post is written by Stephanie Durbin:
Day 3: 4-26-15
First day of hike – Cusco/Wayllabamba
Transfer from hotel to car
First Camp: Huayllabamba
This morning we woke up at 5:00 AM in preparation to start our journey on the Inca trail. We had to be ready for pickup between 5:30 and 6:00 AM. The van with Alvero and the rest of our fellow trekkers came around 6:00 and so started our early morning K82, which is where we started our journey on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Our fellow trekkers are all very nice; we have quite the diverse group of people: a couple from Canada, a couple from Germany, a couple from South Africa, a couple from Mississippi, and of course the dynamic duo brother and sister combo from California and Colorado 🙂
The hike today was absolutely beautiful and was considered the easiest part of the trek. We started off at 2,400 km and ended at 2,800 km in 4 and a half miles. We walked along a valley along the river and saw beautiful farmland, an Incan ruin, and miles upon miles of spectacular views. Our first meal with the group was a great lunch. We had soups, garlic bread, sweet potato, beef and rice. It was so surreal eating in a camping tent in the middle of one of the many beautiful valleys in Peru.
We continued on the path a while longer and came across some pretty steep parts. Both Jason and I did well but all we could think about was that tomorrow all we were going to be hiking was steep terrain. According to our guide, Alvero, whom has hiked the Inca trail over 500 times, tomorrow’s journey will consist of 4,902 stairs.
Jason took some amazing footage along the path so we are looking forward to the final video product! We finally reached our camp for the night which is nestled on a family’s property just up from the river and on a hillside. Alvero informed us that this is one of the most spectacular views because we will be able to watch the sunset on the peak of the highest mountain in the valley. The view was absolutely breathtaking; Jason was able to fly his copter in the valley and also get some good footage of the sun’s rays setting on the highest peak.
We then had a delicious dinner. Prepared for us was trout, noodles, rice, potato and a sweet sauce that consisted of local plants from the area. It was delicious.
After dinner the whole crew gazed at the stars. We could see soooo many stars. No light pollution and clear skies makes for a night filled with endless stars. We could see the Milky Way Galaxy. It was also pretty spectacular getting to see a constellation known as the Southern Cross. This was obviously the first time I had seen it since I had never been this far south of the equator.
What an amazing first day! Can’t wait for more hiking tomorrow even though it will be the toughest day by far.
Wayllabamba to Pacaymayo
Second Camp: Pacaymayo
Waking up this morning was so surreal: nothing beats opening the tent door to the site of a towering Andes Mountain. The soreness from yesterday’s hike quickly wore off…it had to because the Day 2 hike on the Inca Trail is the most brutal. Today, the elevation climb was about 8300’ to 13000’…my legs were on fire once we reached the top of Dead Woman’s pass (fitting name, isn’t it?).
Before we started to ascend on the steepest part of the trail, our group took a snack break on the bottom to fuel up and mentally prepare. Jason flew his copter and was surrounded by about 30 porters (employed by the trail guide to ease our experience), all watching in amazement. He flew the copter through the valley and was able to do a time lapse of the view from the highest point of our journey…it was quite the feat!
Our knees killed us on our way down the other side of the peak, but we eventually made our way to camp. The porters on our journey made the trip so ‘easy’, relatively speaking. After a long day of hiking, they would have our camp setup and food already cooking so that all we had to do was kick off the hiking boots, get into some comfy clothes, and make our way to the dinner tent.
Few words were said tonight around the dinner table since everyone was so exhausted. But as tradition had it, night two meant meeting the great porters that carried our clothes, food, and in our case, Jason’s copter. We all stood in a huge circle and listened to the porters say their name, age, and how many years they have been working on the Inca Trail. Alvero informed us that most of the porters are direct descendants from the Inca, born and raised in the mountains and ‘working’ the trail. Our cook has been working on the Inca Trail for 13 years; the youngest porter we have with our group is 15. Our porters are amazing, they cook, pack up our camp, sprint past us on the trail (in flip flops and converse shoes), setup camp and start cooking, waiting for us to catch up.
Feeling pretty fortunate for the adventure and to experience this culture. Just hope I can get some sleep with all the frogs croaking around us!