|Hola from Cusco again. Yes I am still alive and yes, I finished the Inca Trial, oops I mean Trail!!
I will try to describe the pain I have gone through in detail......
We left Cusco last Friday in the truck with our guide for the Inca Trail from United Mice who was called Efrain, nickname Ponchoman! (lovely man !!) and visited the Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Ollantaytambo (not sure if I have spelt that right!)The ruins are all amazing (look them up on a website if you want more details I cant remember it all!!) We spent the night in Olly and had the last shower we would be having for 4 days (these things are important to me....! Got myself a walking stick and some jewellery (most useful on the trail....!)
Next morning we got up v early and set off in a minibus for KM82 which was to be our starting point. Now at this point it was pissing with rain and I was not looking forward to any of it !!! Had raincoat and plastic poncho on and it was bloody horrendous!! However as soon as we set off the rain stopped and the sun came out! The first couple of hours walk was fairly easy however my foot was giving me grief and I seriously doubted whether I would be able to do the trail at this point. Carried on though and we reached the first rest point where i swallowed a couple of horsepills for the pain. This seemed to do the trick and I managed the first bit of steep climb Ok. We reached our first set of ruins which were fantastic (cant remember any of the names at this point!! Check out a website for the trail and you can get all the technical stuff!) It was getting very hot at this point and we had a nice walk to our first lunch stop. Now I was thinking we would be getting a sandwich but no, we had soup, main course and pudding!! The porters carry all the food, tents and our bags!! Amazing people. Here Efrain showed us how to make use of the coca leaves which would help us to keep going. Believe me I needed it. You chew the stuff with a bit of catalyst and keep it in your cheek, adding more leaves as you go along. It just kind of numbs the pain !! The walking continued up and up. Breathing was pretty hard as we got higher but the scenery became amazing. The first day is supposed to be an easy one but with United Mice you do a long first and second day. Myself and Paula were keeping a steady pace near the back (we werent last!!!!) We then reached the steps from hell !!! Never ending steps up into the cloud forest which was beautiful but exhausting. Every corner we turned, more bloody steps. At this point, 2 lovely porters came along and took our daypacks from us. We eventually made it to the campsite, apparantly only about half an hour behind some of the others!! Campsite was amazing, situated in a valley between 2 mountains with the most beautiful views. Dinner was excellent and we went to bed about 8, ready for the 6am start, and the climb up to Dead Womans Pass at 4200m! Well, i reckon this was the hardest bit of the whole trail. we climbed about 800m up steps. It took me and Paula a couple of hours but again, we arrived at the top not too far behind the others (apart from Ian who seemed to be running the damn trail, the fit bugger!!) At the top Efrain gave us a sip of rum to congratulate us and we all felt very chuffed with ourselves!! What goes up must come down however, and we then had about 2 and a half hours of walking downhill with steps to the lunch point. This I found tough. You really have to concentrate going downhill. Its almost better going up even with the breathlessness. Eventually made it to lunch!! After that we clambered up to the second pass, which was followed by a relatively flat walk through beautiful cloud forest, past an amazing ruin (too many steps to go up so i carried on!!) to the second nights campsite, again beautiful and covered in clouds! Another early start and we made in up to the 3rd pass, again more steps (by now legs like jelly, sweating like pig, very smelly!!!!) The 3rd campsite was only 6km from Macchu Picchu. That evening we gave our 28 porters their tips and they all sang us a song. The porters are bloody amazing. They do the trail with up to 24kg on their backs. We set off on the 4th morning at 5am in order to get to the Sun Gate. It was a lovely walk apart from the near vertical steps in the middle. Goddam Incas certainly knew how to knacker out the unfit westerner!!. However, of course it was all worth it when we got to the Sun Gate. Macchu Picchu was still covered in clouds so we did the final bit of walking up to the hut where all the classic photos you see of the place are taken from. The sun burnt away the clouds and we had the most brilliant view of the ruins. It really is breathtaking. All the photos you see cannot compare to the feeling you get when you see it for the first time, and its all the more amazing having slogged up the 40 odd km to reach it. I still cant quite believe I have done it, being the lazy unfit person that I am!!! I may do more hiking now......er, maybe not....!!! Efrain gave us a tour of the main sites in the city before the hoards of tourists descended upon it. Me, Luce and Paula left almost immediately after this as it really was horrendous seeing all the tourists swarming all over the place, when a couple of hours before it had almost been deserted. We caught the bus to Agua Calientes and had a big lunch and 5 cuba libres (hoorah alcohol!!!!) before getting the train back to Olly, followed by minibus to Cusco. Then we went and got very very drunk (after the best shower I have ever had, believe me the smell was getting horrendous!!) and managed to complete the 24 hour challenge in style by staying up until 4am (actually I think I made it til 7!!!)
Today, I got up at midday, had a fab lunch at the Real Mccoy with my trail buddy Paula, and so here I am sat in the internet cafe, a bit sunburnt, very tired but very chuffed with myself!!! Yes, I am a veritable star!!!!! Picures soooooooon I promise!!!
OOPS almost forgot to mention my Inca Trail injury. I have cracked my tooth on a popcorn kernel!!! Its hanging on but if it falls out my filling will too so i need to visit a dentist here!!! Bloody typical !!!