Published: June 13th 2010May 23rd 2010
Another GAP alarm at 6am started a day of rolling terrain and subsequent ups and downs due to Soph's knees. Starting from 3600m, we had to get to a camp at 2600m and despite knowing what was coming it didn't help.
The intention was for the day to be relaxing and we took our time on the uphills with the Shipman sisters, taking plenty of photos along the way. Time was spent admiring the flora, including numerous orchids, and changing climates every few hundred metres. Our first ruin stop was Runkuraquy, round buildings built as store houses looking after both food and an abundance of communication between the sites. The ruin also formed a check point and basic hospital for the Incas. The scenery was breathtaking as we wound higher and made our way through the cloud forest. Bizarre to see so many changes in climate, flora and fauna in such a short space of time. The Inca Trail being the traditional route was also outstanding, as it carved its way through rocks to form tunnels and round sheer drops in search of Machu Picchu.
At the final ruins on our way to camp we stopped at Sayakmarca, where
A Kiss Atop a Mountain
Thanks to Heather's papp'ing skills
Wilbert told us about the strict rules in place in Inca times. Crimes were punished. Outside the major cities there were no lawyers, and criminals were fed to pumas or snakes - deemed gods, or tortured through one of 35 techniques for execution.
The long downhill to camp was painful for Sophie, so I ended up carrying her bag on my front, mine on my back, to ease the impact of the big steps on her knees. Not sure how she (or I) could have coped without the poles we had bought. It is a challenge going down steep Inca steps when you can't see where you are going because of the bag on your front.
We rested until dinner, borrowing "deep heat" from the Shipman sisters for Sophie and headed to bed knowing we had a very early, but reputedly amazing, start the next day. How Sophie Sees It
We had a great morning with the Shipman sisters, really taking our time and enjoying the trail. It was beautiful. We didn't realise how far the others had gone on ahead until we caught up with them and they had apparently been waiting an hour! Oops!
Felt a little guilty but knew that we still had plenty of time to make it camp, after all we were walking 45km over 4 days... the same amount of time it took us to walk the 72km "W trek" in Patagonia (which in fact took more like 3 days)! There is just no point in rushing such an amazing trail.
The pain of the downhill stint to camp exhausted me mentally more than physically, and after tea and popcorn we recuperated in the tent until dinner (unfortunately, had we not been in the tent I may have been able to object to the Shipman sisters' plotting for the next day...) The porters were obviously exhausted too, as we got no applause that evening and no hot wash water! On the day we needed it most! That said, we could not have done the trek without them, and I felt rather spoilt by them the entire trip!
There are more photos below