Published: August 27th 2006August 26th 2006
Km 82 The start of the Inca Trail
Our Group Joanne, Stef, Shaun, Liz, Ian, Debbie and me
Goal achieved Inca Trail conquered and I am in one piece perhaps a little fitter and stiffer than when I started!
This is a reasonably long entry just thought I would warn you up front.
What a journey though. 40 km trek which was very tough on the knees and my ankles thanks to 15 previous ankle sprains from too many years of netball. It was the most wonderful experience of my life and I would not trade it for anything. The Andes are so beautiful and peaceful and challenging and really take your breath away.
Here is a snippet of my trek the good the bad and the shit I am bloody lucky to still be here bit...
After a 3 hour bus ride we arrived at Ollantaytambo so that a few people could buy their bamboo walking sticks. I already had mine organised and bought them with me so we stocked up on the essentials...lollies for the porters, lip balm, toilet paper etc and then we travelled by bus to KM 82 where our 4 day trek began. It was very exciting and the adrenalin was rushing as we commenced our trek. We
This is part of the trail
A porter carrying stuff. These guys were often running up the trail and running down the trail. Calf muscles like rocks
we walked for 5 hours that day and got into camp an hour early so we set the expectations for the rest of the trek. The Laus who were part of my group brought along pencils and stickers and a couple of soccer balls for the local children. They handed them out when we arrived at camp the children were so excited and came running up when Shaun got out the soccer ball.
On the trek we only had to carry day packs and the porters carried the rest of our gear. They were amazing. These little guys about 5´5 probably only weighed between 50 & 60 kg carrying 20kg each on their back and leaving us for dead on the trail. They had to rush ahead and set up camp for lunch (which was 2 courses ever day!) then they rushed off after lunch to have our tents ready and commence cooking our dinner (3 courses no less). They were nothing short of amazing. The chef (complete with chef´s outfit) prepared lunch and dinner from a chopping board. Plenty of variety and really yummy food which far exceeded all of our expectations.
Day one was quite pleasant
actually a little up hill trekking however not too strenuous, quite warm conditions. We got into camp around 3pm feeling tired and satisfied.
Its reputation for being the hardest day preceeded it. The climb out of the valley where we camped to Dead Woman´s Pass which is at 4200m took its toll on all of us. We all felt like dead women and men by the time we got to the top however I was pretty happy with my form and came in second in our group. Thanks go to Amy for making me slog it out in months of personal training sessions and the time I put in at the Kakoda Track 1000 steps in the Dandenongs really paid off as well.
Our legs all felt like lead and breathing was difficult, it was a real struggle both metally and physically to keep going. The thing is though that you have no choice as there is no other option.
I had far more of a challenge going down hill. It was very hard on everyone´s knees and basically my ankles were stuffed even though I strapped them every day. My shoes gave me lots
Gifts for the children
The Lau´s giving the kids some gifts at camp on day one
of grief and bugger all grip on the down hill sections and of course once we got to the top of Dead Woman´s Pass we had to go down down down to the valley to get to our camp.
I think I ended up on my bum at least once on the way down which became a bit of a theme for me on the down hill sections.
We walked for 8 hours on day 2 and got into camp an hour behind schedule which meant that our tents were bloody miles away from the bathrooms and it was like a trek to get there although the porters escorted us in the dark which was great. They were soooo helpful. I won´t go into the state of the toilets however it is fair to say that some people just show no respect and there was crap everywhere literally.
We were all really stuffed after day 2 and in bed by about 8pm for a 5am rise for the next day. It rained all night so we were anticipating more rain in the morning and we were not dissapointed.
We walked for 9 hours this
day. Steady Rain from the time we got up. We had to climb out of the valley so another long trek to the top and uphill became my favourite by far and I did really well again on this stretch. We stopped for lunch at 10.30 am which was about 5 hours after our start in the morning and then we looked at a lot of the flowers and stuff along the way this day. The trek was mostly undulating and quite pleasant until mid afternoon and then it was quite steep downhill again and I was quite anxious about downhill at this point because my bloody shoes were slipping all over the place. Thank God I had my walking poles to keep me steady. Some of the distances between the steps were about waist height for me. Far easier to do this trek if you are not a short arse I would say. But as they say diamonds are smaller than bricks and I am sticking with this saying.
Before you read this next bit please know that I am absoloutely fine, no injuries apart from a little stiffness which will go in a couple of days however
Another bit of the trail
This gives you an idea of the drop from the edge
I did have a little ¨incident¨in the afternoon on day 3. Let me set the scene...the trail itself is in some parts stone, some parts dirt and some parts steps and bridges. It often has big boulders/rocks in the middle of it and after watching the porters and people in front of you, you soon know that it is easier on the body to walk on flatter bits of dirt which however are basically on the edge of the trail and can be a little more dangerous and there are no rails.
I was at the back of the group and the Group leader who is supposed to stay at the back with the last person went forward as the track split in two and he needed to let people know which way to go.
Joanne and Stef Lau were just in front of me and I was basically following Joanne´s footsteps, it was drizzling and I stepped on the outside stone on the track to avoid a big stone in the middle and then my foot slipped sideways and I went over the edge and down the mountain for a few metres. Luckily there was some vegetation
in this particular spot and I dug my walking poles into the vegetation and managed to stop myself from sliding.
It was all very dramatic and I picked a good spot to go over as in many other places it would have been a drop to the valley which could have been 10000 ft and I would have been history, literally. In fact 2 more metres and this would have been the case. I am pretty sure I yelled out an expletive starting with F however things went in quite slow motion and I thought quite clearly. Joanne was yelling out to me to pass my pole to Stef so he could pull me out however I had pretty good footing and decided to lean on one pole and move the other closer to the trail so I could pull myself up and this worked well and I grabbed Stef´s hand and he pulled me back up.
It didnt really hit me until later how serious this was and I was laughing about it about 5 mins afterwards saying OK I checked it out and there were no spectacle bears down there. (Spectacle bears are sometimes spotted on
the Inca Trail however very rarely)
Let me assure you that I am fine and well and all in one piece. So Mum & Dad you will have heard about this over the phone by the time this is posted however I want to assure everyone I am perfectly OK.
I was so relieved to make it into camp that night and didn´t care how bloody late we were. Our campsite was just near the edge of the cliff and there was about 4 feet between the zipper on the front of our tents and the edge which was not what I needed to see after actually going over the edge earlier in the day however it turned out to be fine. The ground was on an angle and we all spent the night sliding along our matresses towards the end of the tent so didn´t get much sleep and I was reliving my over the edge moment a little in my dreams. Wow I will be able to live off that story for years to come I think.
Off to Machu Picchu 4am rise and 5am start in the dark with torches on our
heads so everyone who laughed at me for buying a head torch well I wouldn´t have been without it!!
Up and down a lot however not as tough as the previous 2 days there was one point where we had to climb a wall which was straight up I have a photo of it however it doesn´t do it justice. 2 hours later we arrived at Intipunku the Sun Gate and there we saw Machu Picchu. It was an amazing sight and all the hard work sweat and tears was worth it. We had a 30 min walk to Machu Picchu from here and we could all see our reward at the bottom.
Overall it was an amazing journey and I am so glad that I decided to do the trek. It was the most physically and mentally challenging experience that I have had in my life and pushed me to what were my limits which I believe are boundless anyway. I had a pretty dramatic experience when I went over the edge and am a very lucky girl however it is great to know that I am a cool cat under what could be explained as the
Last night at camp
We gave the porters tips, clothes and thanks in appreciation of their hard work. They introduced themselves and told us what they did and we did too and where we are from. Four days without a shower we all were a bit on the nose
most pressure I have been under in my life. I am very proud of me for keeping it together under these circumstances.
Machu Picchu is the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life. It captures your mind body and your spirit all in one breathtaking view. I feel so blessed to have had this experience. Thanks to everyone who supported me in making this journey. Who knew with what was going on in my life 2 years ago that I would be able to complete a journey like this. Thanks everyone for your help and support in enabling me to get there.
Last night in Cusco tonight and then off to Lake Titicaca and Puno and then back to Lima. I fly out for NYC on 30th Aug and arrive in NYC on 31st and will be off shopping as soon as I get there as I don´t think my cargo pants and hiking shoes will go down well in the clubs there! Danielle Kavanagh better get her partying shoes on cos we are going out girl!
Until next time...
Love to you all
There are more photos below