Thursday, February 14, 2008

Peru Part IV - The end is in sight

First, one more picture from day two. Here's the entire group at dinner the second night. This picture couldn't be taken at lunch because A) Rindee and I arrived a good 90 minutes after everyone else, and B) Rindee chose to sleep instead of eat lunch. I basically went to lunch and sat comatose while picking at chicken. Yeah. We were tired.

A quick note about camping. I was as comfortable as possible with my sleeping pad and down sleeping bag. The bag had a hood type thing that you could tighten with a drawstring and pretty much wrap your entire body in the blanket - which is exactly what I did on the second night. Being up that high is COLD. I would never have made it if the guide hadn't suggested filling a water bottle with hot water and putting it in the sleeping bag with me. Genius. It may have been the coldest night, and I may have looked like an inchworm, but MAN did I sleep well :-)

For day three, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves (with a little help from Emily commentary of course.) Please note that there are MANY more pictures from day three. This is due to the fact that A) we slept more than we had at any other point since our adventure began, and B) we didn't have to carry our packs. Even though the weather on day three was the worst out of all three days, we took more pictures to document our trek. The weather changed this day from drizzly to flat out rainy and since we were at a higher elevation than we had yet been, it was cold. When we stopped for lunch, we were damp from the wind and rain, and even though we were in our food tent we had ceased all exertion, so it was actually bone-chillingly cold. We listened to the rain pour down outside the tent and were torn: stay in and try to stay dry, or to out in the rain where at least we're warm from the hiking. Luckily, day three was mostly descent, and we went down into the "tropical jungle" portion of our hike. The rain did eventually taper off into drizzles and then nothing at all.

The morning of day three, our guide "let" (read: strongly suggested) Rindee and I leave about 5-10 minutes early so that we could have a head start. After our 90 minute late arrival the day before, I can't say I blame him. We made pretty good time without our packs. After about 15 minutes, I asked Rindee to take this picture of the campsite we had left behind.
Our first stop was Runkurakay. Unfortunately, when we arrived it began to rain so we pulled out the ponchos. I have no pics from the ruins for you. Sorry. You'll have to make do with the pic of the ugly chick next to the sign for the ruins. At least I can prove we were there somehow. (Hey - it was early. Early morning + hiking does not = flattering pictures.) I would like to point out that we arrived at the ruins in the middle of the pack this time - not last as usual. Go us!
As we continued on our hike, the rain cleared a bit, and we got the following pictures, one of the trail we were traveling and the other two of the view when we could see it.

This next picture was taken when we stopped for lunch. As I mentioned, it was FREEZING. I took this picture of one of our fellow hikers because it perfectly summed up how we were all feeling.
After we had all eaten lunch and waited for as long as we could, we continued out into the rain. Along the trail, we came to this Inca cave. It was only about 20 meters long, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. This is actually one of my favorite pictures from our trip - not only for the cave, but because the way Rindee and I look perfectly sums up the day.
Then Rindee wanted an action shot - I think she was trying to show the drop off on one side of the trail. The stones (that were actually laid by the Incas by the way) were actually pretty slick...and I think she had a fear of falling off the edge...

As soon as we could see the next set of ruins, we paused for another photo op. We couldn't quite get the ruins in the pic, so we settled for the view instead. (This photo also serves as proof that without our packs, Rindee and I kept up with the group pretty well :-) (Random note: this was actually one of the many points on the hike where I actually said, "My boyfriend is a genius!" The hat that I'm wearing was soaked from the day before, and did not dry in the cold overnight. However, since it's wool it was still just as warm as ever. I didn't even care that I looked like "cancer-patient Emily" in these pictures. I was warm, and that's all that mattered. Genius!)
The following two pictures were of some ruins (Wiñay Wayna which actually means "Forever Young.") that were about 30 minutes from our campsite. Had the clouds pulled back a bit, we would have actually gone into the ruins. As it was, the views were obscured, so we just took pictures from afar. The first picture is the first time we could see the ruins on the trail, and the second is when we were much (MUCH) closer.

From the same point where I got the closer picture of Wiñay Wayna, I rotated about 45 degrees and wanted to get a picture of the mountain and the river. We could actually hear the river from where we were. I couldn't believe that. Man it was LOUD!
From there it was just a quick 30 minute hike to our campsite for the night. Since it was the last night, we took a bunch of pictures like:
Rindee and I in our tent.
The entire group at our campsite before dinner:
Our dinner spread on the third night. They served us restaurant quality food each and every night. Amazing since all they had to use they carried on their backs the entire way.
And finally, our porters. A word about them... They were responsible for carrying the necessities for our campsite. This included all the food, the tents (both the meal tent and our individual tents,) and all of their personal belongings. (On the third day, they carried the personal belongings of Rindee and myself as well :-) They carried an average of 50 pounds on their back - per porter! Additionally, they were the last ones to leave the campsite (as they tore everything down for travel) and the first ones at the NEXT campsite so everything was set up when we arrived. It was truly remarkable what they did. As we were hiking, people behind us would shout "Porter!" and everyone would draw to one side to allow the porters to run (RUN!) past. Man.

Okay - this weekend I'll finish up the last post about Machu Picchu. If you think I had a lot of pictures from day ain't seen nothin' yet.


AnnD said...

Thank God for the porters! I would have probably been the first to take advantage of their generosity. I'm a wus. I loved the pictures! Just amazing.

alisa said...

I love the picture of your fellow hiker "praying" to the cup of hot liquid. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip!!