Day two was the most challenging of four-day trek. I consider myself a pretty active person. My Fitbit tracker tells me so – I workout and walk a lot. But, let me tell you, this hike was NOT EASY! Altitude affected my breathing. I did not take the altitude medicine – (I highly recommend taking altitude medicine). I, however, did chew on Coca leaves. And, I did that very well, like a person experienced in chewing tobacco! I placed the dip (coca leaves) I pinched from our guide’s stash, and placed it inside my cheek (not between my lower lip and teeth). I had my cheeks stuffed at all times! That helped, A LOT! That’s what the guide and the porters used throughout this journey.
Day Two – Distance we needed to cover! Two big ascends and two big descends! I have highlighted our Day-2 campsite in orange.
Wake-up time on Day-2: 4:30 AM. Starting altitude at 10,826 ft – crisp cold morning. I layered myself well. And, took layers off as I needed. (I used gloves, caps, two socks, and layered my shirts and wore my fleece jacket).
Before sunrise, we were served hot coca tea right in our tents. We had a few minutes to get ready; to pack our back-packs. We also had to pack our sleeping bags. Got our hiking poles and headlamps (early mornings and evenings are pitch dark and headlamps are a must). Ate a nice yummy breakfast…and trust me, I ate. I loved the freshly prepared Peruvian food by our chefs! Grabbed a fruit and a chocolate bar for snacking while hiking. And, off we went hiking by 5:15 AM.
For the next few hours, all we did was climb, climb and climb….as I climbed I took several tiny breaks to look at the beautiful mountains that surrounded me. I stopped at several places to rest and to look behind me. I looked intently at these indestructible, fearless, lion-hearted, colossal mountains that I was leaving behind; never to come back to again in this lifetime. And, I was overcome by feeling of gratefulness. I felt powered-up, and found myself completely energized.
After climbing for three hours, our guide had us look toward a distant summit, and said smilingly, “we are hiking up to that top, it’s the “Boobie.” (The hill on top of the mountain did look like a breast with nipple from afar. Everyone got a little laugh. Much needed exhalation!)
At times, I was taken over by my emotions – the beauty of these Andes Mountains and the skies over them were too much to behold. I found wiping tears off my cheeks. And, of course, after the release, I felt hungry. I snacked on my fruit and chocolate bar as I climbed. I also kept myself hydrated. Recommendation by the Alpaca Expeditions is 3-liters a day. And, I felt that my body needed that much water. (Peeing was not a problem…just used the Inca’s nature :))
Enjoying my cheese sandwich and Coca tea at Dead Woman’s Pass
Finally, by mid-morning we reached the first peak, standing tall and strong at 13,829 ft – Dead Woman’s Pass! Here we had our nice big snack provided by the expedition company. Cheese sandwich, an orange and a warm cup of Coca tea was fully satisfying. (It was cold up here). We relaxed here; climbed up to the “Boobie;” took pictures; enjoyed the magnificent views…and then it was time to make a move. Our first big descend was right ahead of us.
Two hours of downhill felt more like a forever downhill. Down, down, down we went. (Trekking poles are a definite must). At some point in my descend, one of my poles broke! The trek-guide offered me his. I gladly accepted.
Our lunch was ready when we finished our first downhill. (I was the last one to get to all our resting points). Reasons behind it being: Altitude affected my breathing; I was slow; I needed frequent rests; and I stopped at many places to simply absorb the surroundings. Our guide or his assistant was always there to help me – offered to carry my back-pack. That was nice, but I was fine carrying it all the way!
After lunch, our next climb was facing us. It definitely felt harder, but way better than the descend. My feet wanted a warm soak, they were tired. My face felt rugged, sticky and salty from my sweat and dirt. I felt like I was in some old western movie…the trail had lots of areas with dry patches…dirt visibly suspended in the air. Missing in this picture was my savior; my gallant horse! Oh well, who needs that when I was my own undaunted savior.
Second summit, Runkuracay, was right below my feet. Having this peak under my belt, I felt a new surge! The excitement quickly vanished with the thought of “where from here?” Downhill again! It was not easy, but I did it. Dusk was approaching fast. And, I knew I was going to be the last one making to our night-2 campsite. (And, I was definitely the last one). But, everyone – I mean, my trek group and porters stood by the campsite clapping for me on my arrival. This amazing welcome touched my heart deeply. Tears rolled down my eyes. Then I screamed with joy. Then I felt this pang of hunger.
We had our “Happy Hour” goodies. (Happy hour was snack time before dinner) – Freshly popped popcorn and a Peruvian snack – fried bananas – Yummy! Hot chocolate and Cocoa tea. Awesome, just awesome! Then I went to my tent to rest; others rested, too, or played cards. Let me tell you, I felt a special feeling for my husband. He was always by my side. He helped me with unloading my back-pack, taking off my hiking-boots, and I got a much-needed hug from him 🙂 After a good rest, we took pictures and chatted with other trekkers. By now, we felt as if we were one big family!
Our dinner was elaborate like the night before. Day 2 was very tough. And, we really enjoyed the food. The delicious food relaxed us. Every dish was incredibly tasty. We ended our meal with nice hot cocoa tea.
An exhilarating end to Day-2 of 4. Destination Machu Picchu, half way covered! Check out a few more pictures from Day-2:
Day-2 hiking was challenging but the beauty was my biggest motivator.
There’s me and my friend up on the “Boobie.” Dead Woman’s Pass. At almost an altitude of 14,000 ft … felt great!
Day-2 Campsite … it was very cold here. When I took this photo, most of us were resting in our tents, after a near 10-hour hike-day.
This is our dining tent … porters are taking a break while the kitchen crew is getting our dinner ready.
The Sun is setting right ahead of our campsite on Day-2. Within minutes it was pitch dark. And, when I gazed up to the black skies, I was endowed with millions of dazzling stars and breathtaking galaxies. I was completely floored. It seemed as if these brightly lit stars were going to fall right down on me.
I’ll be posting Day-3 and 4 in two weeks.
…thank you for visiting Coaching My Life to Healthy…until next time 🙂