Friday, June 22, 2012

Ancient History, Volume XVII

If you missed the last post in this series, you should probably go read it. Because Day 3 of the Inca Trail won't make a whole lot of sense if you haven't read about Day 2. Just sayin'...

Day 3 started much like Day 2 - coca leaf tea in the tent at 6am, and me attempting to convey that the smell of it was making me gag, so could they pretty please take it away now? Day 3 also started with the liberal application of Dencorub in an attempt to make my legs actually work. This had the downside of meaning that I spent the day smelling like an arthritic old lady. On the UPSIDE, it masked the fact that I'd hiked about 25 kilometres in the past 56 hours, and hadn't showered in that time...
The less than spectacular view from our tent. Those tufts of grass in the front?
That was a ledge. It was really fun trying to get out of the tent without falling off.

Breakfast was at 6.30, and we were back on the trail by just after 7am. We were heading for the second main pass, which was thankfully not a millionty kilometres uphill, like Dead Woman's Pass on Day 2. At about 7.30, we overtook the Watermelons. They'd been made to start walking at 4am again. Can we all just stop and marvel at the fact that within 25 minutes, we overtook the people who'd been walking for nearly 3.5 HOURS????? Yeah. That happened...

About half way up the pass, we came to an archaeological site. It wasn't the most fascinating of locations, but it was conveniently located at the "If I have to walk one more step, I will cry/scream/collapse" point, so the half hour break there to explore was much appreciated!
I may have gotten all "The canyon of the crescent moon"-y when I saw the shape of this.

From there, it was a fairly hard slog up to the second pass. But our tour leader conveniently located himself behind me, and may - at times - have actually resorted to pushing me towards the top. Between the crescent moon temple-y thing and the summit, we passed into the cloud forest and things gradually became foggier, which was kind of fun. Somewhere along this second slog, I located the most amazing thing I saw between the start of the trail and Machu Picchu:
"Fuck you all for walking on me" (my boots for scale)

Yup. It's a rock that looks like it's flipping people off. (No one but me noticed this. I'm so glad I took a photo.)

Eventually, we reached the top, and the head guide informed us that there was an archaeological site a few hundred metres down the other side of the pass. It turned out he meant a few hundred metres in ALTITUDE, not in distance. So it took a little longer than we anticipated to reach the site. But it was totally worth it when we got there. 

To get into the site, you had to climb up a really steep, narrow set of stairs cut directly into the rockface. We had about half an hour to explore on our own, and then the head guide gave us a talk about the history of the site. I remember it being fascinating, but not a single thing about the content. Whoops?

From there, the trail passed through a campsite, where the most spectacular thing of ever happened.

I wish I'd been brave enough to take pictures of it like someone in the group did. But I was too busy marvelling at what was happening: Mrs Watermelon - the bane of everyone's existence - was carried through on a stretcher by four of the porters. Not, you understand, because she'd injured herself. Just because she was so far behind that she was physically incapable of catching up. The porters thought it was HILARIOUS. And we, to be perfectly honest, did too.

As we finally contained our "OMG DID THAT JUST HAPPEN???"-y behaviour, the head guide told us that it was about an hour's walk from where we were to the spot where lunch would be served. And that lunch wouldn't be served until 12.30. As it was only around 10.00, there wasn't much point in walking quickly. So we took our time, enjoyed the scenery, took lots of photos, and got super excited when the trail tunnelled through a rockface.
Yup, Ness and I are wearing three day old clothes. Whatever.

After a lunch of quinoa soup and alpaca spaghetti, we were relieved to learn that the afternoon was almost entirely downhill. And rather a LOT of downhill - we dropped 800m in altitude between leaving the lunch spot and arriving at camp! The afternoon took us, for almost the first time, along old Incan roads. So that was amazing. Even more amazing, but somewhat demoralising, was the fact that you were constantly being overtaken by porters, who were carrying 25kg loads, and RUNNING along the trail. Usually wearing sandals... 

Our campsite that night was just near the Incan site of WiƱaywayna, so when we got into camp, we headed along a path to check that out. It was pretty awesome, although I didn't go down to the bottom for fear of not being able to walk back up the stairs again! 

The campsite that night had a lodge (PROPER INDOORS!!) and a bar, so we made the most of that while we were waiting on dinner. After dinner, we had a thank you presentation to the porters, in which we all had to introduce ourselves. Each of the unmarried women got a huge cheer, which was kind of hilariously awkward.  The porters who'd had to lug Mrs. Watermelon down a million flights of stairs got an extra large round of applause. 

And then it was off to bed for some well earned rest before our 4am wake up call and the final trek into Machu Picchu. But that's a story for next time.

Questions of the day: would you rather walk uphill for a million hours or downhill for a million hours? (One kills your thighs, the other kills your knees and ankles) And would you have laughed at Mrs. Watermelon being carried past on a stretcher? Or am I an evil bitch who's going to hell for laughing?

Oh, and most importantly: have you ever seen a rock making inappropriate hand gestures????

K xx


  1. I'm fit, but I would be Mrs Watermelon. I went canyoning in New Zealand a few years ago and it involved about 4 hours of hard hiking. It was nearly the death of me...and then at the end, after throwing yourself down waterfalls and shiz, you have to hike back to the car, up a millionty stairs. I hugged the van when I got back. Oh did I mention that was hours of hiking in crocs. We had to hike in crocs, WHO DOES ANYTHING IN CROCS?

    And I can't go 24 hours without a shower. It's for the greater good of society. My hair produces so much oil that it could fill the deep frier at KFC. Enjoy that picture.

    1. Eeeeeeeuw, that sounds HORRIBLE. Although I had to do something kind of similar in Belize (that story's coming soon-ish!). It wasn't four hours of hiking though!!

      And my hair is pretty much the same. There's a good reason why I'm wearing a hat in EVERY SINGLE PHOTO taken on the hike! ;)

  2. Yeah, I'd be Mrs Watermelon too. But I'd be fine with people laughing at me about it!

    I'd definitely prefer to walk uphill. My thighs and bum would be shaking from the effort, but I'm petrified of my ankles giving way (as they have before) and me tumbling downhill for eternity.

    1. Seriously, if *I* could get through the Inca Trail without needing to be stretchered, pretty much anyone can!

      Yeah, I get the fear of ankles giving way. But with above the ankle hiking boots, it's not such a huge problem! :)

  3. I've always much preferred down hill - but since the realisation that I don't have to hike in BIG Heavy Boots hit me at age Too Old hiking has been much more enjoyable for me :)

    1. I too prefer downhill. Because I'm a wuss... And I'm too freaked out about the possibility of ankle injuries (like Kat mentioned in her comment!) to wear anything but big boots for hiking!

  4. Hahahahahahah.

    On a STRETCHER?!

    It's fine to laugh since she's a bitchschnozzle. Yes, I just randomly made that word up. No, I don't know why. Because of (Monday) reasons?

    Dude, every time you describe the hiking I feel freakin' phantom/sympathy pain in my limbs, as if I had been on the crazy hike...!

    The flipping off rock is a pisser, hahah!

    Looooooove the last picture and can't wait to read about (and see pics of) Machu Picchu!


    1. Bitchschnozzle is a fantastic word. Although not the easiest to say. Perhaps it's a better in written form word...

      ANYWAY. I feel phantom/sympathy pains in my legs for Past Kirsti while writing these posts. So I'm glad I'm not the only one!! The rock was spectacular. It's still one of my favourite things EVER.


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