We woke to frost on tents; Jacob had slept like a rock, I shivered a little between sleeps. We were greeted at our tent door at 6:00 with hot coca tea, which helped. The clouds had rolled in over night, masking some of the views, but bringing snow for our achievement of the summit. Since Jacob had not been home for winter, he loved his chance to feel snow on his cheeks. It took us an hour to reach the summit and then we preformed a ceremony of thanks and positive wishes for the Pachimama, the goddess of earth. It felt awesome to be there, with snow flakes coming down and the glacial ice dimly glowing blues in the cloud light. Now, it was time to descend. We were to have our longest day, but not too difficult all ways pointed down now. We walked until a snack break where some needed to buy ponchos, the snow had turned to rain. Now we were walking through high altitude upper valleys with short cropped grass and rock. Then we walked more and started to warm up. Its amazing how quickly the temperature rises as you descend. The vegetation got more luxurious, and
we began to hear bird song. We had to watch our step. The snow rain had made everything slippery. We were getting tired and hungry, when our guide sped up and left us. We later discovered that he had seen that the crew was not at the lunch site and needed to find out what was wrong. Before I could get worried he was back, without a pack and leading one of the ponies. He was worried about how tired we were and now we were walking further. One of the horse guys had been nudged by a donkey and cracked his head. They had to get another group to take him in to the hospital. So we had to walk further to get to lunch. One of our group had not gotten the extra of having her gear carried, so she had a large pack on her back and was tired. Jacobs feet had grown and the hiking shoes hurt when going down hill, so Jacob got to ride the pony and our guide took the pack on his back to get us all down the mountain. Lunch was a little somber, and still exquisitely good. We were sad
for the horse guy and couldn't find out how he was doing till much later. We still had over two hours walk to do before we could camp for the evening. All the time, descending further down the mountain, where each step was warmer, more humid and lush. When we got to camp we had all of our luxuries of lemonade as we walked up,tents made and bags delivered ,and warm water to wash our hands and faces with. This night we were to begin our tradition of playing spoons. Before dinner, during popcorn snack, we started playing. After supper, we cracked open a litre of rum and played some more. We were now growing more intimate,teasing, wise cracking and varied conversation kept us highly entertained. We were jelling into a really great group. We also had news that Haviar was going to be all right although in serious condition. So we tottered off to bed after the final round, exhausted and in good humour.
The third day was mixed. We were leaving one valley and crossing over another mountain, so we had lots of ups and downs. Also we had many spots where there were narrower paths and
the ponies no longer carried our gear. Our cooks went by truck to our next camp while we walked. There were many places where there had been land slides,so we had to be careful. This walk was mainly at a lower elevation and I loved feeling nestled in the valley between steep slopes. one of our group developed a inflamed knee and was finding the going very difficult. A few times Mike passed his pack over to others and took our stoic, but in pain member on his back. He started calling himself the horse. All along the trails Mike shared his knowledge about plants, lifestyle, traditions and ceremonies. He wasn't going to give us our train tickets back to Cusco, if we didn't remember the names of things. The beliefs of the Andean people and their Inca overlords, became clearer and clearer to me as we hiked. The personal stories of our group also developed as we walked as we all shared our backgrounds and visions for our future. If my body could sustain a life of hiking and camping every day, I would do it in a heartbeat. I loved this way of being. Our day ended a
little bit earlier this time, and we had the opportunity to go to some natural hot springs. The forecast was for rain the next day and our group was tired and sore so we discussed whether we should alter our plans for the hike. We chose to cancel the 5 hour hike , 3 up and 2 steep down, which would would end in a short train ride to our last night at a hotel in the town outside Machu Pichu. This meant that we would get to walk for 3 hours on a flat trail to walk into the town without the difficulties of the crossing another ridge of mountain. So we cancelled our train ride and used that money to pay for the ride to the hot springs and the ride to the start of the flat trail. The hot springs are a series of three pools with each level growing hotter as it gets closer to the source. It is open air and therefore you get amazing views of mountains all around you. I don't like sitting in water, but this was blissful. We had all the aching muscles of hard work climbing steep trails and now we got to soak in a huge , beautiful hot bath. We had fun taking pictures underwater and giggling about the crazy events of the past few days. Night had fallen by the time we had gotten back to camp, and supper was waiting for us. We talked to the local people and there had been so much unusual rain that there were many more landslides and some more flooding which made our choice to change our trek even more satisfying. We played more spoons and went to bed, knowing that we could have an easier morning given the change of plans.
Good Night and Sweet Dreams
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