We had a 5am start to get ready to start the Inca Trail. After breakfast, we got on the bus with our daypacks and our 5 kilo duffle bags to be carried by the porters. I was so excited that I had butterflies in my stomach. There is 13 of us, my crew of 5, then the other 4 peeps in the other Gecko tour (a Canadian couple and two girls from Sydney, who weīve already met) and four other people (two Irish guys and a chick and a guy from Melboure). The bus took us to a little town to get last minute supplies or snacks then we headed to the check point to start our trek. We got our family picture taken and then started the trek by going across a bridge over a raging river, with scenic tall mountains all around. The walk started in an area where lots of locals live. Lots of locals were walking their horses or donkeys to and fro. I didn't expect to come across a house with a blaring TV or a radio on the Inca Trail! The high tension electricity towers spoilt the view and I was a bit taken aback because I expected the trek to be remote right from the start
. We had a lunch stop where the porters had gone ahead of us and set up a dining tent with tables and plastic stools. We sat down to a fantastic meal of soup, then a chicken dish and heaps of vegies and rice. It was a fairly gentle walk until the last part where we climbed up steeply to get to camp. I suspect it is a little taste of what we can expect tomorrow and I didn't like it. Today was only 12kmīs but we got in at 5pm. On arrival our tents were all set up and we were given bowls of tepid water with soap to freshen up. We then sat down to a 3 course meal. Entree was an avocado salad then there was a beef dish (the Chef had prepared a special Tofu meal especially for me) and various vegies. Elias brought out the packs of cards and we played a round of "Shithead". Dean was the loser! BTW, my legs are aching and itīs only day one! Oh dear.
The camp mattresses are thin but surprisingly comfy, however the slope was more of a problem, ending up halfway down the mattress and my feet stuck into my shoes which were at the end. I brought my own camping pillow which is so soft and well appreciated right now. I have a hired sleeping bag, which is rated to -8 degrees. Most of us were kept awake during the night by dogs prowling the campsite and howling dogs from across the valley. In the morning we had crepes! Oh Yeah! Today was much anticipated as it is the hardest day - mostly UPHILL
! I soon found myself at the back of the pack, resting a lot and taking photos. The steps were relentless, you would reach the top, turn a corner and there would be a world of steps above you, then you would get to the top of them and there would be more, and more, and MORE! It was relentless!!! The forest was beautiful and there was lovely freshwater streams coming down the mountain. My legs were hurting. The pain went down from my lower back, down my gluts, down the back of my thighs and down my calves. Burning, searing pain. I got to a point after three hours of climbing up and up that the pain was so much I cried. I took some pain killers and one of the guides took my Canon camera, which weighs 2.5kgīs, which was adding to my problem. I continued on. It was hard. I struggled but kept going, because I had to. There was no other choice. When I broke down in tears in pain again, the guide also took my daypack. I knew I had to get to the top. Five hours of relentless climbig uphill and I eventually dragged myself up, leaning heavily on my walking poles, using my arms rather than my aching legs, I got to the top. My guide Ciro held out his arms to welcome me to the "Dead Womanīs Pass", the highest point in our trek, and I hugged him and sobbed with relief!!. I had just climbed up 1200 metres, up to an altitude of 4200m. I was wobbly and in a lot of sciatic pain. I took a break, had a snack then started the downhill trek to our next campsite. One and a half hours of going downhill also took itīs toll, but on my dodgy knees
. The walking poles really help to reduce the impact and stabilize. It takes a fair bit of concentration to pick where to step. The downhill trek seemed to go forever but eventually we made it to camp for a 2pm lunch. After that we were formerly introduced to our porters. They carry our 5 kilo duffle bags along with the tents, the camp mattresses, the dining and cooking tents, the cooking equipment, the tables and chairs and EVERYTHING, each one taking a maximum of 20 kilos on their backs. They leave after us to pack everything up and then run past us, uphill or downhill, arrive before us and have everything cooked ready for our meals in the dining tent. Amazing stuff and then we get introducted to them and we find out they are they are normal farmers from various regions in Peru. Peruvians from this high altitude region apparently have bigger hearts and lungs and are better able to cope with the altitude and the terrain. And they all have a very particular "porter smell" which is quite unique and unsavoury! We applauded each one as they said their name and where they were from. We also did the same and there were lots of smiles going on. We got a family picture taken with them. Then we had chicken soup for dinner, followed by chicken with chinese vegetables in a ginger sauce, and spaghetti and meatballs. The chef even made vegetarian meatballs for me! Then we had chocolate cake! All this is cooked in one pot according to our guide. Unbelievable! Even our guides were impressed with the Chef and his cooks. We always finish off with some cocoa leaf tea which assists with altitude sickness but I havenīt had any effects at all luckily, just sore legs! My legs are still aching and feel wobbly.