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My name is Scott and I like to travel. There I said it, wow that does feel better. There is probably a program for my affliction somewhere. I am what I would consider a Normal Guy. I am a native Arizonan, sometimes we are called “Zonies”. I am in my mid 40′s and enjoy a great life. I am self employed and have a wonderful daughter and Partner. Although I would say my life is a fairly normal one, I am also quite lucky in that I have the ability to travel and enjoy the world, I enjoy learning about other cultures and experiencing the world around us. I want to be right upfront about the type of travel I enjoy and the type I don’t. You will probably not ever read a story of about me backpacking my way through the serengeti during the height of summer, nor will you probably read any stories of me sleeping in the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton in Paris. I am not a budget traveler, nor am I an uber luxury traveler, I fall somewhere in the middle, where most people fall I believe. I started this blog for the sole purpose of sharing my stories, my views and my excitement for traveling around this world with my friends, family. However it doesn’t stop there for me, I also wanted to make friends with others around the world, those who travel and those who dream of travel. Blogs and Websites evolve over time, mine will no doubt expand over time as well please come back and see what has taken place. However if you have come to my blog to schedule a flight or a hotel, this is not the place.

Day 8 – The Greatest Vacation….So Far

Thursday September 11th

No Alarm Clock on the trail, so I guess I actually do get a reprieve, or at least I thought so.  Now I have human Alarm Clocks, namely the Porters who wake us at 5:30 a.m.

Hot Cocoa and Cocoa Tea, we have 30 minutes to get our stuff packed up, Breakfast at 6 a.m.  I suppose I need to say a few words about food on the Trail, it isn’t sophisticated, fancy,  5 star or any other descriptive phrase you would like to use.  It is simple, carb loaded, easy to make and pretty bland.  Breakfast this morning, Pancakes, Coffee, Tea and Toast.

Camp

Thats going to cost you, Mr. Jones

As we were preparing to get up and going, the Porters placed buckets of warm water next to each tent so we can wash our faces and such.  After all, we won’t be getting a shower for a few days as we are on the trail.  I specifically remember putting on my boss hat and telling everyone to be careful, don’t use the water for any other purpose than to wash your face, hands, or even a quick sponge bath.  But no, Patrick didn’t think it would affect him, he  had to brush his teeth and he choose that water.  I believe this is going to come back to bite him in the ass, if it doesn’t bite him there, it surely will affect that area anyhow.  I am looking forward to leaving this camp.  I had to get up in the middle of the night to use the toilet (I use that word loosely), walking around that pasture at night, looking for cow bombs was no fun did I mention that the toilet is nothing more than a hole in the ground, so be careful you don’t want to fall in.

7 a.m. and we are ready to begin our day.  As we have been told a number of times, today is expected to be the most challenging day of the Trek.  Today we hike from about 10,500 Feet to roughly 14,000 feet.  I think I may need to go slower today because of the climb and the amount of time this is going to take.  I have been tracking my steps on this hike, yesterday were more than 23,000 steps and roughly 6-7 miles and about 6 hours.   Today will be much more coupled with the climb in altitude.

8:30 a.m., we arrive at our first rest stop, we have already climbed 1000 feet (4500+ steps), it’s a cloudy day, thankfully because I have a feeling that the sun would bake us like a piece of cheap beef jerky.  Holy Shit, it’s only been an hour and half, this is going to be hard.  We are all grouped together, except for my Partner, Patrick he has decided he can go faster and wants to move faster, and he does.  In fact I had a little joke in that I thought it would be fun to have nicknames on the trail, I know it sounds childish.  Never the less, I believed the Trail would dictate our Nicknames, they would just emerge.  And our Guide, Nico started calling Patrick, Juan Chibo (I don’t know if that is spelled correctly) which means Great Goat in the Quechua language.  Because Patrick would literally run up the mountains, not even affected by the altitude.

Hernan (Guide), he knows something I don’t

10:15 a.m. I arrived at our Lunch spot, Patrick (Juan Chibo) arrived at 9:24.  It takes me nearly 10 minutes to catch my breath.  We have been going for about 3 hours now, 9166 steps and a bit more than 3 miles, we are not even half way there, we are roughly 1/3 of the way to camp.  We are here for about 40 minutes or so, the Porters and Cooks have been here for a while and set up the lunch tent for everyone.  Although the food is not spectacular, it sure is welcome.  I am hungry.  Others, decided it might be a good idea to catch a cat nap, as you can see.  That is Hernan, one of our Guides.

 This place is so magnificent, majestic, spectacular, breathtaking, magical, it feels as if your on top of the world, there is a freedom that overtakes you and at the same time, you feel small and insignificant, it’s at that moment you realize how small you are in this big world.  Like a lot of people, I have seen some big mountains, but I have never been surrounded by such huge mountain ranges, they go on and on for ever.  From this point we can see all the way down the pass to the Camp we woke up in this morning.

10:55 a.m., It’s so imposing, standing here, looking up to where we have to go, just one more pass, the shortest but the toughest of the day.  Nico says this should take about 2 hours.  We arrive to our next stop around 12:30, we made some pretty good time, I guess I got my second wind, I tell myself please don’t leave me now, I have much more to go.  At this point I have recorded more than 12,900 steps so far today, wow, what an experience, something that I have never done, nor even contemplated doing and will most likely never do again.  I am very happy that I made this trek.  Juan Chibo (Patrick) ran all the way up the mountain and arrived about 40 minutes before us.  So we finally make it, and he say’s “ok, let’s go, I am all rested up”, well let me tell you, I used some very colorful language in between gasping for air.  This was the shortest pass to get  through, but it was without a doubt the most difficult so far.  Patrick aside, most everyone else would take about 60-70 steps, then stop for a breather, then on to another 60-70 steps and so on, and so on until we reached the top.

Warmiwanuska, “Dead Woman’s Pass”

We have arrived at Dead Woman’s Pass.  We are now at about 14,000 feet, it is cold, and very windy.  Dead Woman’s Pass gets it’s name from the rock formation, which resembles a woman laying on her back.  Once again I am without words to express the magnificence of the view and physical stamina it takes to get to this point.  It looks and feels like your at the top of the world.  The pitch on this segment must have been something like 10-15 degrees, at this point we have gone nearly 4 1/2 miles.  There is such a sense of accomplishment getting to this point, I firmly believed we could  do it, but when your trekking up this mountain, you second guess your ability to achieve your goal, this is where you find your strength, you push through, persevere and don’t stop.  There is no other option, I am so very thankful to have achieved this.

1 p.m., we continue our trek, we are now at the highest point of this trek, now we go downhill.  Going up was difficult, going down is a real bitch.  Juan Chibo (Patrick) didn’t let us down, he decided to run down the mountain, now let me tell, that is stupid.  If he had fallen and broken something he would be out of luck, there is no one that will come and rescue you.  We begin our trek down the mountain, it takes us a couple of hours to get to the Camp.  In the picture above, Patrick is pointing to our camp.  I found it to be much more difficult going down hill, than up.  We arrived at camp about 3 p.m., Patrick and I arrived together, this is the first time and probably the last.  Our camp was in the process of being set up by the Porters.

Ok, I have to tell you about the porters, for our team, we have about 14 or 15 of them (Yes thats fairly normal for a group of 8 like ours).  These are men and boys from surrounding areas and this is how they make their living, by schlepping up and down and through the Andes for people like us.  I was complaining the first day, because I had a back pack with about 5-6 pounds of stuff.  These porters, are carrying about 50 pounds each and they are running up and down these mountains.  And most of them don’t have shoes, or if they do they are homemade sandals made from old tires.  These guys are amazing, and they are paid very little.  Our group of Porters ranged in age from 20 to late 50’s.  If you go and do this one day, please, please give them a good tip. We spent about a half an hour one night just talking about what to tip them.  Our guide, Nico was very clear that they don’t expect a whole lot and are very proud people, who are just happy that your there experiencing their country and leaving behind your money.  As it turns out we left them about an average of $20-$25 per porter.  Nico, said that was extremely generous, I don’t think it was generous enough.  These guys are not only carrying your camp, they have your food, chairs, water, food, and all your personal belongings.

I can’t say this enough, this was the toughest and most physical thing I have ever done in my life.  Total steps for today were a bit more than 25,000, and roughly 7-8 miles.  Everyday our Porters set up “Happy Hour” for us, some popcorn, cocoa tea and coffee, and it is really welcomed.  Today, some of our party was not feeling very well, Patrick started to feel the effects of his poor choice this morning.   Sandra and Christy didn’t even join us for dinner, I hope they are feeling better tomorrow, maybe just a good nights sleep will do it.  Lord knows, we all will sleep well tonight.

Me, writing away in my journal every chance I got.

Today, I felt like I crossed a new boundary in my own life, the ability to complete this day was a milestone that I never thought I could have done, today I am proud of myself and my travel partners.  Today, this will be locked away in my brain for as long as I live, a memory of perseverance, friendship and knowledge that you can always achieve your goals through hard work and faith in yourself.  I prepare for bed and can not wait to lay my head down, for tomorrow is a new day, a new challenge and a new experience.

I hope you enjoy my slideshow from day 2 of our hike

 

Happy Travels

http://www.travlewithscott.com

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6 Comments on “Day 8 – The Greatest Vacation….So Far”

  1. Travel Spirit April 28, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    I remember Dead Woman’s Pass! I was chanting to myself for the last 10 minutes before reaching the peak…”Inca, Inca, Inca”! Thanks for bringing back memories!!

    • scott30483 April 28, 2012 at 7:38 am #

      I was chanting too, but I don’t think I can repeat the words here. It truly was a spectacular trip. I kept a journal of the whole trip, which lasted about 3 weeks from start to finish. It is something else to back and read it.

      Scott

  2. magnumlady April 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Wow what a trek, well done. Great photos and blog

    • scott30483 April 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Hi Magnumlady,
      Thanks for stopping by and your kind words about my blog and this trek I found myself on. It was truly fantastic. Come back and read the rest, there is much more to come.

      Scott

  3. TQ May 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I think Day 8 – The Greatest Vacation….So Far | travelwithscott is a good blog post and you do a nice job of writing unique information. Tom – http://www.ep2p4u.com

    • scott30483 May 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

      Tom,
      Thank you for the kind words. I am happy to have you stop by.

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