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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Peruvian Adventure 2016 - Inca Trail Day 2 (Wayllabamba to Paqaymayu)

We were awoken at 5am to our porters offering us coca tea and to signal the start of our day. We quickly packed our gear, used the squat toilet, and brushed our teeth before breakfast. Breakfast was some porridge, fruit, bread, and omelets. Another massive meal to begin our big day. We also followed breakfast with more coca tea and made sure our bottles were filled before leaving Wayllabamba, the last community we will encounter on the Inca Trail.

Before we could completely leave town, we stopped at another checkpoint on the Inca Trail where Christian showed our paper work before we could proceed. Unfortunately, we could still not get our passports stamped, signifying our time on the Inca Trail. Christian was hoping, but he was told we could try at Machu Picchu. Oh well. We will have to wait another couple days.

Leaving town marked the beginning of our 1200m climb from Wayllabamba to Abra de Warmi wañusca (dead woman's pass). Yes, 1200m. For those of you that grew up in America, that translates to about 4000ft, almost straight up. Given that we spent the night at 3000m, the oxygen was getting pretty thin. Not only were we climbing 1200m, we were doing it almost entirely above 10,000ft. Holy cow! Today was going to be tough!

For awhile, we were hiking alone, as Christian was chatting with a local woman also hiking up the mountain. We decided to take breaks for 10 minutes every hour until Christian caught back up. That worked for a while, but eventually the altitude got the better of us and we started taking breaks more frequently. When we stopped, we would just admire the view and check how many meters we have climbed, managing to stay in good spirits throughout. We stopped at Tres Piedras for a longer break and use the toilets. It was wild to see the locals set up impromptu snack stands to sell treats, including drinks (gatorade, water, soda, and liquor) and snacks to people trekking the Inca Trail. We just ate our snacks and enjoyed a few minutes of reprieve.

We worked well as a group hiking up the trail to the next rest stop, Llulluchapampa. We had climbed about 800m at this point, so we only had about 400m to go. From this rest stop, we could see the pass we were climbing to, resembling the face of an old woman. On the left side of the pass was the nose and chin, the pass represented the neck, and on the right side was the old woman's breast. We all spent some time admiring the view, eating some snacks, using the restroom, and taking some time to rest. Christian mentioned we were three quarters of the way done, to which I told him he was a liar. We were only two thirds of the way up. He mentioned that they say that to keep the tourists happy. Sneaky guides!

After our break, with our goal in sight, we continued on. Our legs were definitely starting to tire, but we were fueled by our goal. While we were slowed, we noticed that we were doing pretty well to keep up with the porters. This both encouraged us and made us think seriously about the pace we were setting. As it had been all morning, the views were fantastic!

Finally, we made it up! Standing in the pass at 4215m in Dead Woman's Pass. We posed for some pictures before climbing on top of the woman's breast to rest and enjoy the views. We had a nice snack and break, basking in our accomplishment as we watched more people make the final steps of their climb.

After about 30 minutes at the top, we began our descent to lunch and camp for the day. Unfortunately, going downhill was tougher for us than going up. We slowly navigated the steps, taking minimal breaks to try to get off the mountain as quickly as possible. Then a light rain joined us, making the rocks rather slippery. Brenna and Kari both fell on their bums, and all of slipped a little on the way down. Not great, but we eventually made it to lunch, which was also our camp for the night.

When we arrived, we sat down to a delicious meal of lomo saltado and had some more tea and hot chocolate. The rain was starting to pick up as we settled into our tents.

Finally feeling the urge, I decided to give the squat toilet a real test run. Thankfully, I figured out a good position and successfully hit the target on my first try. Flying high on my success, I decided it might also be a good idea to take a shower. The water is from a mountain lake fed by glacial run-off. Translation: stupid cold! I turned it on and "attempted" to get in, but I decided it was better to just use a wash cloth to clean myself and only have the water on for short bursts.

Feeling somewhat refreshed and in cleaner clothes, I went back to join Kari for a short nap. Kari also went to take a shower. Definitely a luxury, despite how cold the water was, that we normally do not have.

It was definitely good we got to camp when we did. The sky opened up and dumped for a few hours. We felt really bad for the people still coming into camp in the rain, especially those that strolled in after dark. That had to be miserable. While watching all of that, we were enjoying our afternoon tea and hot chocolate with popcorn and cookies. This occurred about an hour and a half before dinner. Then came the soup. Delicious! Tonight, we had pasta and a delicious stuffed and breaded hot pepper. Since Kari's tummy was not feeling great, I got to eat her pepper. Man were those good! For dessert, we had chocolate pudding, plus more tea if you wanted. I passed on the tea, but I did get to finish Kari's pudding. Hooray for marrying someone that does not like chocolate! Throughout tea and dinner, Christian was giving us a history lesson and telling stories of the Inca people. It is all super fascinating! Like the previous night, we were in bed by 8pm, hoping to get some rest for the next day!

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