We woke up early again to get a head start on the LONGEST day! 16KM! We had a steep 400 M incline ahead of us, followed by a steep 200 M decline, 200M incline and the rest of the route was a decline, but it was very technical and I was grateful for my hiking poles! The first 400 M felt like they were a straight-up staircase! We climbed slowly and steadily! I did have altitude troubles near the top, and our lead porter came and grabbed my bag for me for the final 20 m! He was a god sent! When we reached the top we rested and had a lite snack. There was a moment of nausea that came over me again, however, this time there was no “show”! Our assistant guide stayed with us the whole climb. The view was spectacular, mountain tops, some snow-covered and the clouds seemed to be at the same level as we were. Meghan stuck with us for 95% of the day, only ditching us once we were closer to camp! We collected some great photos, had several laughs and I did cry another happy cry long the way. This was a dream come true for me, and I was so happy to share it with my husband and daughter.
We did trek through some smaller caves along this portion of the trail, and at times it was very thin in width, with steep drop-offs. There was lots of greenery and the morning air was crisp! The day warmed up nicely as we continued along. The trail continued to change between easy to hard to steep to a gentle climb!
We saw several people from our group on the trail before lunch. Lunch was amazing. The lookout gave us a great view of Aguas Calientes and we could hear and see the train. There were several lama’s at the lunch stop who were resting in the sun! Our crew made a great meal for us, and baked us a cake! They told us the cake was cooked with steam. How cool! Then it was cut in what we were told traditional Peruvian style. They cut a circle piece in the middle and then sliced from the outside.
Our guide then came to Sam and I and asked us to please begin our journey to camp and it was a long way and difficult, and he said to us that we definitely did not want to be completing it in the dark. We headed out and worked hard, not taking too many breaks other than to snap some quick pics and take in some water. One pair from our group caught up to us. Meghan was starting to ask if we took a wrong turn (which is not easy to do on the trail as it is clear where everyone walks) as we are usually being passed or at least have others with us at this point in the day. We hadn’t seen our guide since lunch as well, which is odd. We told her “No Worries”, as Sam and I knew we were going the right way.
We were strong and determined not to finish this in the dark, and we made it well before dark. We actually were the second “pair” to arrive at camp. The camp was close quarters with many other groups. I sat with Meghan and assessed Sam’s toenails (he did lose the big toenails later on) as we waited for the rest of the group. We waited and waited and wondered where the rest of our group was. They arrived after dark, taking their time and being extra careful on the technical trail after a group member twisted their ankle earlier that day. We were all exhausted, ready to eat and hit the hay. We were going to have an EXTRA EXTRA early wake-up time of 3:30 AM!!! This early start was needed to ensure that our fantastic porters could catch their train back.