Day 2, hiking the dreaded Dead Women's Pass!!!!!!!
Trip Start Dec 29, 2007
174Trip End Dec 22, 2008
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The early wake up cup of tea was much needed as the far too happy guides and porters scurried around the tent at the ungodly hour of 5.15am. Getting ready for the days exertions it was only then that the realisation of what we were all attempting to master was becoming a reality. All the tales about the Inca trail revolved around the infamous 2nd day the challenging yet thoroughly rewarding ascent over Dead Woman's Pass. This stretch was to be renamed something else by many of the group by the end of the day. The brief from the guides was for all of us to climb at our own pace meet at the first rest stop then head on up to the top take a few photos at 4215m and then get the hell out of there before you froze to death!
As the group set off the cloud was low and the persistent rain matched the mood of the straggling trekkers
One of the hardest things to cope with is the porters carrying so much more than oneself moving past u with such ease up this continuous mind numbing climb. It was tough going and it wasn't getting easier. The first stop was meant to be two hours away and I was very pleased to be there after just under one hour with Nik coming in as the first girl and Sue and Ian doing fantastically also not far too. The view down the valley was spectacular and uphill towards the pass was just as dramatic. After breakfast and the gathering of our entire group, photos were taken at this half way stage before the final push onto the top. The guidelines again take it steady do it at your own pace and try and enjoy it. God it was hard work there is just no let up it is just a continual row of steps stretching into the distance. You just have to keep slogging away step after step by now the group was stretched out along the path each of us battling against the mountain and the inner demons
But we did it both of us made it to the top as did Sue and Ian what an achievement! It was such a feeling to climb to 4215m in the most miserable of conditions but the memory of crossing that last step onto the top of the pass will stay with me forever, highlighted by Nik (who in the last stretch had been hit by the altitude & was somewhat abit dizzy and delirious for the last 70 metres) who attempted to run the last few steps shouting 'give me a bl**dy aspirin' , the answer to ease altitude sickness and help her breathe! Such a feeling though at the top but due to the freezing cold and rain it couldn't be savoured for long so forming a small walking pack of 5 with Tom, Barry and Bo we began the slow descent down the other side towards the lunch stop and some warming soup.
The trip down was unpleasant for some the continual action and taking ones weight on the knees begins to take its toll. It was hard work the cold had been severe at the top and it took a long time for the extremities to begin warming up as we descended. The achievement of reaching the top gave you such a feeling it was all we could talk about. The trek down was a relief it got warmer and the effect of the altitude lessened somewhat. Reaching the rest stop still in the rain the group slowly gathered together as each member made their own way down to this point
After much confusion and a late lunch the group was ready to set off on the last push to our camp for the night everyone soaked to the skin still, cold and not looking forward to joining the rain outside again, what a dreary day compared to yesterday and so sad for Aggie too be in such pain and unable to walk, but there was no way she wouldn't finish the Inca Trail, everyone was sure of that! For various reasons Nik and I stayed at the back making sure Aggie was dry and warm as she set off on the back of one of the porters for the final stretch of the day, then we ended up walking with Robert and Carol who were finding the going tough like most of us. What a women Aggie was though, I think it was more scary and harder to do the Inca Trail on the back of a porter who ran down the most smallest and scariest of paths and steps at sheer speed, and at 70 years old she was just amazing, if we can do the Inca Trail at Aggie and Roberts age then boy we will be proud!
The first part involved trekking up again over many stone steps and endless false horizons. Robert is the husband of Aggie and is a sprightly 74 years old and has a will of iron. He was going to finish the Inca trail no matter what. It was tough going that afternoon and we were making slow progress the two guides Rueben and Oscar were walking with our intrepid band and concern was beginning to show on their faces
Eventually we did reach the top of this afternoon climb the weather had closed in and the views were dramatically decreased but what an achievement. Reuben had gone on ahead by this time to fetch porters and Nik and I were asked on the quiet if we had head torches due to how far we had to go and how late it was getting. It was getting very exciting! Carol and Robert kept on walking and we were rewarded with an amazing sunset over the snow capped Andean mountains as we watched them become etched by the most fiery orange and red colour it was just stunning, but also meant darkness was now next! As we slowly made our way down step after step we heard the porters coming up to meet us.
By now the light was failing and Robert was very tired and took advantage of a lift from one of the porters. How these guys carry such weights and move so quickly over the uneven paths I will never know and with no torch! As Nik caroll and I struggled to keep up with them darkness fell and by torch light we covered the last stretch down to the camp. We were greeted with hot coffee, popcorn and the cheers of the rest of the gang. They were a very welcome sight after a very long day but hey we could say we had done some of the Inca Trail in the dark and incredible too that Robert had managed to do it on the back of a porter running in the dark, again more scarier than walking it definitely!!
That night camped out in such beautiful surroundings (well not that we could see it) we drank Rum and fruit tea and ate a wonderful 3 course meal followed by our famous loo for the night, a hole in the ground behind 'the big rock!' Looking back it was a day of firsts for many and a hell of an achievement for all!! Go Kamuka!!!
PS the Pass has officially been renamed 'Dead Bitches Pass' for obvious reasons!