Friday, September 12th
5:30 a.m., one of our Porters, has awakened us with Hot Water and Coffee, I must say you really do appreciate hot water after two days on the trail.
6 a.m. Breakfast, today we actually had a pretty nice Omelet I am quite surprised, how did these guys manage to lug fresh eggs along this trail. toast, coffee, hot chocolate and fried bananas. All in all, a pretty darn nice breakfast, I was impressed.
Todays trek will be a huge challenge but in a different way than the previous two days. We will only climb about 300 meters, which after yesterday’s climb seems like a simple walk in the park. However we will be dropping down more than 1000 meters from yesterday’s high of 14,000 feet, that is quite a drop. This is a different type of difficulty, the beating your legs and knees take trekking down hill is tough, I think it is a good idea to suck down some ibuprofen before I head out.
It is an absolutely beautiful, beautiful morning, I am excited to get started, we are now half way through this trek and will soon reach Machu Picchu. When I exited my tent this morning, it was so peaceful, most of the other campers were still asleep, so there was this deafening silence, this peacefulness that made me feel alone, which was an awesome feeling.
The clouds this morning are gorgeous, they are actually rising from ground level in the valley, floating upwards as if to say heaven has arrived, just breathtaking. Now I know what people mean when they say they felt like their were on cloud 9, I felt like I was floating above the clouds, looking down at the magnificence of the Andes. Everyone seems to be in pretty good spirits this morning, except for poor Sandra, who still isn’t feeling real well. I know she and Christy were very tired last night, but I am not sure skipping dinner was a good idea, she is going to need that fuel for today’s trek.
7 a.m. we are packed up and on our way. Once we get going, the Porters break down camp, pack it up, and follow, however it doesn’t take them long to pass us on the trail, after all they will beat us to the lunch spot and have everything set up by the time we arrive. I simply can not say enough about these men and their drive. It only takes us about an hour to get to the first ruins of the day, Runkuraqay. Runkuraqay could have been a post office, or a supply store, or a guard house, whatever it was it was definitely in the employ of the rulers of Machu Picchu. It’s called the Egg Hut because of the shape and it’s fortressy look, it was discovered by Hiram Bingham. It is really cool having a guide to share the history of this particular area, we spent a good 30 minutes listening to Nico explain all of it to us. then another 30 minutes working our way to the Ruins, it is a short pass, but sort of brutal.
About 9 a.m. we leave Runkuraqay to finish our climb through this pass to the top of the mountain. It is strange, I feel as though I have lost track today. Nico tells us we have about 2- 2-1/2 hours to go before we reach our lunch spot. We are about to walk through yet, another vegetation type, so far we have been through High Deserts, Grasslands and now we are trekking through what is considered a more tropical jungle. This particular pass is really beautiful because of the vegetation, flowers, vines, orchids and so much more. I took so many pictures through here, every time I turn around there is something else to see. I found myself walking much slower through this pass in order to take in all the beauty and serenity. It was just Christy, Nico and I through this pass.
About halfway through we came upon yet more ruins. I don’t remember the name of this one, but it was basically used as a postal outpost. The Inca’s used the trail to deliver messages, food, etc. A messenger would arrive here, and there would be one waiting to take over for him. Sort of like our very own Pony Express, only they were on foot. It is pretty amazing to look at the trail and realize we are on the original Inca Trail, sounds funny, but the stones, the bridges, the path itself was carved hundreds of years ago, there is so much to learn about different cultures around the world.
From here we come across Sayacmarca, which is a larger Inca Ruin, Sayacmara (“Town in a Steep Place”). It is built on a promontory of rock overlooking the trail, and is accessible only via a single narrow stone staircase. On the left of the staircase, which is about a meter or less in width, is an overhanging rock wall, which makes it difficult for a tall man to climb, while on the right is a sheer drop onto the rocks below, no hand rails either folks, be careful. This place is pretty cool, aside from it’s remoteness it is a sacred place used by the Nobles and also included a sacred alter. Nico gave us a good tour and explanation of the ruins from what would have been rooms to the water fountains to the sacred alter and what took place at that alter including sacrificial offerings to the Gods. The views from this high up are so spectacular, I could stay up here for ever and just stare out at the Andes. From here we are not far from our lunch spot.
Our trek up to this point was a combination of up and down and took us about 4 hours to get to the lunch spot, it was a beautiful walk, less stressful today because we didn’t have to climb 4000 feet in a few hours. Although we had a combination of up and down, it was mostly downhill and I don’t mean a nice meandering walk down a hill, it was brutal, sometimes as much as 15 degrees decline through an uneven, loose and rocky trail for 3 hours straight. I don’t think we could have ordered a better day today, the sun was shining, the temperatures was around 65. I am running out of words to use to describe the beauty of this place, I may need to rewrite this after I get a thesaurus.
The day started out so nice, then a terrible accident.