Saturday, June 04, 2005

Part III: The Inca Trail

This was one of the coolest things I've ever done. If you get the chance, go for it. But if you're planning on being in Peru for 2 weeks and are only hiking for 4 days, DO NOT BRING ALL TWO WEEKS WORTH OF STUFF ON THE TRAIL WITH YOU. Find a place to leave it. Trust me on this one. And, no matter how avid a reader you are, there is absolutely no reason to bring 6 books. Ever. I arrived at the trailhead to discover that my pack was twice the size of my fellow hikers. I did a serious evaluation of how much I really wanted everything in my pack. Quite a few items of clothing lost that battle, and the Peruvian women were glad to take them off my hands for me. I also dumped a couple of books, which I swore I would never ever in my life do, and even gave away my makeup bag, which goes against everything that is Poodle. But it was worth it.

Day 1:
We met our hiking group, which included me, Erin, a man named Brian from Washington who thought it would be a great idea to RUN the entire way. And he was in good enough shape to do it. Brian's wife Kelly pretended that she was out of shape and would be slow. I believed her for about 2 minutes until Brian told me that she had recently run a marathon without training. And she could even walk the next day. Then there were 4 Peruvian engineers from Lima. Karen looked surprisingly like my friend Carey, Gabby is incapable of walking downhill without tripping (which is kind of a problem when you're trying to hike through the Andean mountains) and Manuel and Reynoldo took turns trying to keep Gabby from injuring herself.

After a day of hiking, I arrived at our campsite fairly exhausted, only to read my guidebook, which described day 1 as a "leisurely stroll" compared to day 2's "greuling climb." HA. During dinner, Harry, our trail guide, told us a story about how the Inca trail is haunted by the ghosts of dead porters. The story wasn't at all scary, and nobody was sure if they should pretend to be scared or not, so we sat in silence instead. That was pretty funny.

Day 2:
I was awakened at THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING by the rooster crowing right outside my tent. Whoever said that roosters crow to announce the sunrise LIED. And just so you know, horrendous cramps plus swollen hands and feet from the altitude plus a 4000 foot climb all before lunch equal one tired little hiker. (That would be me.) But, GLORIA, I made it to the summit! And the view was absolutely incredible and totally worth it. Along the way, I ran into one VERY ANGRY hiker whose group had turned back because the steep climb and altitude were too much for them. I also met perky Caroline, who didn't seem to understand why I struggled to climb as fast as she did when I was carrying a 35 lb pack and she was carrying nothing but a water bottle. I learned that apparently I looked like I was going to die the whole trek, because even groups that I was passing asked me if I was going to be okay. }

At dinner that evening, I introduced our Peruvian friends to the Beach Boy's Surfin' Safari (the line that says ...from Hawaii to the shores of Peru...) which they thought was fantastic, and then fell asleep promptly at 8 pm.

Day 3:
Everything about it was marvelous. There was an incredibly steep climb in the morning, but it was only a couple of hours instead of all day. We got to sleep in until 6:00, explore some ruins, hike through a tunnel, and learn the names of all the wildflowers that grow in the area.

That night at dinner, Erin and I tried to teach our fellow hikers how to play Zip-Bong, which originated in State College and is a riot. They decided they weren't quite drunk enough for that.



wendy said...

HOw glorious! I hope that you are taking pictures!

I miss you, come back soon!

Have fun!!


SRA said...

Yes...I want to see pics too. I'm so glad you're having such an interesting and varied experience. And the vistas must be glorious. I'm jealous. ;) ~~

Anonymous said...

So thoughtful of you to post a mid-trip update. Have a good time with the rest of it. And just to reiterate sra... I want to see pics too.

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