Sunday, 10 October 2010
September 3rd was my second day on the Inca Trail and we were woken up at 5am by the porters bringing us cups of coca tea. We had 30 minutes to pack our stuff and leave our duffels and day packs on the tarpaulin sheets laid out by the porters and be down at the dining tent by 5.30am for breakfast, with a view to leaving for the day's hike by 6am.
I felt great and not nearly as achy as I expected to be - although I am sure the few stretches I did helped. I also had an unexpectedly good night's sleep considering my usual hotel comforts had been exchanged for a 2 person tent. I was was snug as a bug in a rug in my 3 season sleeping bag despite the sharp drop in temperature and very comfortable on the self-inflating sleeping pad, which was oodles better than the foam pad that was provided. I gave Melissa my foam one so that she could double up, but I'd definitely recommend getting a pad. The REI shopping binge I went on before the trip served me very well.
Breakfast was oatmeal made with quinoa served with bread and butter. "Eat, eat," urged Efraim, so I finished my porridge which was delicious and was just tucking into some bread when out came plates of scrambled eggs with ham. Phhssssssss!!! So delicious, but it was a belly busting amount of food and I couldn't manage more than a couple of mouthfuls of the eggs. Had I known more food was coming I would not have had any bread.
After the plates had been cleared and everyone was sipping their tea Efraim told us what to expect for the day ahead. "Today we will walk like old ladies," he said telling us we would begin by walking a total of 12 kilometers: 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) up hill, with frequent stops for breaks, followed by 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) down hill. Again with the up, down. Efraim estimated it would take us about 6hours to complete the hike, excluding time for breaks and lunch.
Water bottles filled, snacks distributed and with a "vamos chicos" from Efraim we were on our way, walking up a steep hill from the outset. 10 minutes in I was breathing heavily and cursing myself for not doing more cardio. Swimming would have been good training for the Inca Trail, or similar lung capacity increasing activities, because low impact cardio, like walking a steady 7 miles a day - which is what I walk to work and back - didn't really do it, although the technique of walking for short steady bursts and then taking a break until your breathing has just returned to normal and then repeating really helps.
A weigh station along the trail for checking the weight of the loads carried by the porters to ensure it doesn't go over 20 kilos.
From the photo below the trail appears to be flat, but trust me, it's not, it's sneakily inclining. In fact people may tell you - in our case people meant Ybone, our tour leader who was doing the Lares trail with Jacqui - that the 7 kilometers up are a mix of uphill and flat. These people will not be telling you the truth.
The end of our 7 kilometer uphill hike was dead woman's pass, so named because the shape of the mountain resembles a woman lying on her back and not for other, more macabre, reasons. That peak you can see between the mountains is her nose and then to the right are the bumps that resemble her chest
The end of the uphill portion looks deceptively close.
Oh crap!! Okay, one last push, apparently the rest stop is close.
The rest stop!!! Finally!! The rest stop also the last opportunity to buy food on the trail - not that I needed to be fed anything more - and also the last place you will see a home on the Inca Trail.