A four day trek on the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu, just like the Incas used to do. A dream trip! And one of the more ambitious physical challenges I've undertaken. However, like any good Boy Scout, I came prepared. OK. I've never been a Scout. Or a boy. But you get the idea.
We had a lot of rather intense terrain to cover, but first things first, an early morning bus ride into the mountains. Unless you consider 4:30am still night, as I do. Either way, we eventually disembarked, strapped on our day packs and began the great ascent. On taking the first steps of this amazing journey, I couldn't help but think...
The air up there is so thin, so lacking in oxygen, that ANY physical exertion leaves you gasping for breath like an elderly, pack-a-day-smoker. This was disconcerting. But since our experienced, local guide was suffering the same, the only thing to do was accept it as the new normal. Onwards and upwards. And upwards and upward and upwards
There were lots of snack breaks. A gal needs energy for this business.
And one minor injury. Nothing a knee brace and a walking stick couldn't remedy. (To the man known only as RaisedinSwiterland LivesinGreece, thank you for kindly offering one of your walking sticks. I'm sorry our paths never crossed again. We looked for you in Aguascalientes but never found you. I'm pretty sure I'm owed some bad karma on this account. Or maybe you have something wonderful coming your way. In fact, let's go with that!)
Because this. This was the highest point of our trek at 4600m. And we had the place all to ourselves. Unreal. And, of course this...
Our ultimate destination. That place, that energy, that light! Neither words nor pictures can truly do it justice. Worth every hard-fought step, if you're ever considering it!
Plus you never know who you'll meet along the way!
Finally a moment to relax, tired but exhilarated. I've got say that my Geox Nebula's were just the ticket for this adventure. We put on some seriously rugged miles. They took everything I threw at them, from jungles to mountaintops, and survived beautifully. Without even giving me a single blister. I'm off to Ecuador in January and you can bet they'll be in my bag. If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.
To wind it all up, a celebratory cheers! And of course, a quick summary of what I learned on my trek:
1) We are capable of more than we know.
2) The right shoes will take you to the most amazing places.
3) While going up is hard, going down - especially on loose gravel and rocks - is much worse. And if you are clumsy like me, keep your eyes on your feet and not the view. Boo.
4) Roasted guinea pig, while an interesting gourmet experience, is not for me. It's good knowledge to possess. But never again.