Tuesday, 2 November 2010
The final day on the trail was to be a relatively easy 2 hour hike to Machu Picchu. "It will be 30-minutes of undulating terrain, 30-minutes with a gradual incline and about 60-minutes steep climb," Efraim informed us over an early breakfast of bread, butter and jam.
Um...60-minutes steep incline??? That's Efraim's definition of an easy day, not mine, especially considering my thighs were like rocks after 3 days of strenuous hiking. Nope, I definitely wasn't looking forward to walking up a steep hill for an hour.
"It's not that bad," said Efraim, "the worst bit is the 100 steps. Once you are over that, it's easy."
A 100 steps didn't sound so bad, after all I'd counted over 450 steps yesterday morning on the way up to Runkurakay Inca ruin and there'd easily been another 200 steps up to the pass, a 100 steps would be a breeze, maybe today would be okay.
The last day on the trail began with a wake up call at 3.45am. WTF, can you believe I PAID for this treatment. Unfortunately I didn't get the best night's sleep since it was pretty hot in Winay Wayna camp ground and then on top of that I had to contend with the unbelievably loud snoring from one of the guide's in the neighboring tent - good Lord it was like a freight train coming through the camp, I don't know who it was, but Efraim blamed Miguel who was not around to defend himself. I felt like I was just about nodding off when I heard two loud farts from next door, which set me off laughing and which then woke up Melissa. 3.35am!! Ugh!!
By 4.45am we were in line for the camp entrance to Machu Picchu which opens at 5.30am to let the hikers through for the last stretch to the sun gate.
At breakfast Efraim advised us to be careful on the final stretch of the Inca Trail, that our fellow hikers would potentially aggressively push past us in an effort to be first to the sun gate and if that happened we should graciously step into the mountain side and just let them by, because being first at the sun gate wasn't worth getting pushed off the side of a mountain. Too true.
The first half hour or so of the hike is in the dark. A headlight would have definitely have come in handy. It wasn't so easy to handle the walking poles, a camera and a flashlight, but hey I'm a trooper so I pushed on ;-)
It was absolutely beautiful walking in the early morning light and the nicest thing was that Melissa and I - at the back again with Efraim this time - weren't as crowded by other hikers as I was expecting to be, in fact for a good hour it was just the three of us. I was pretty surprised by this and assumed that they must delay the other groups back at the entrance, but Efraim said that wasn't the case.
A view of the Aguas Calientes dam
The trail was pretty overgrown in places, but at least I didn't have to walk on rocks.
Okay, so the question I get most when I show people this photo is "why did you take a photo of some girl's ass?"
Believe me, that wasn't my intention, it's the 100 steps people and well...this person was ahead of me, there was no avoiding her arse if I wanted to record my experience, certainly not given a couple of other people coming up behind me who were keen to get started on the 100 steps, so deal with it people, it's some woman's arse in the photo. The one thing that does bother me the most about this photo is the fact that you cannot tell how steep this thing is, I mean, this shit is vertical. VER-TI-CAL!! In fact as I said to Efraim "that's not steps, that's a WALL." Seriously that f****r is VERTICAL!!!
Being passed by fellow hikers. By the way the porters take a different route on the last day, so you have no need to be concerned about dodging out of the way of them passing you on the last part of the trail.
Within sight of the sun gate
Yay, we made it!!