Sunday, June 10, 2012

South America Adventures - Part 6 (Inca Trail)

I woke up on day 3 sore and damp.  No it wasn't crying out the was a massive rainstorm that happened overnight.  This day was the longest trek of the trip where we logged just over 10 miles.  I won't complain because it was the most beautiful day of hiking.  Seriously gorgeous!  The majority if it was thru the lush and green cloud forest full of humming birds and orchids.  We came across 4 different inca ruins that were for the most part intact.  With all of the gorgeous scenery, you were in constant danger of stepping off the narrow path and down a cliff.  Seriously, many of the paths were mountain on one side and sheer drop off on the other side.  I have a few scary videos of non-existent safety standards for the Incas and the guide was always warning people to walk single file since the path wasn't wide enough for two.  To add another level of danger, the mist from the cloud forest made the smooth stones super slippery.
Naturally the porters were running down the downhills...and our group was taking it slow (I mean SUPER slow) literally one step at a time.  It became the running gag with the group because every corner we turned was more stairs.

Up to this point, I realized I majorly lacked skill hiking up mountains.  Sure I beat the old ladies but for a fit active adult I was sure sucking ass.  Anyway turns out I LOVE going downhill.  Yes my brand new hiking boots with super traction sure helped, but I was flying down those stones like a porter.  I think the phrase "Lindsay is part mountain goat" was used a couple of times.  We came to this one particularly treacherous looking steep stair set that Dana called "the downward hill of hell".  Here is a shot of it.

It took the group about 5 minutes to get to the bottom.  I handed off my camera to get video of my attempt at either descending at record speed...or breaking my neck.  Here is the link to the video, you be the judge.

Of course we took our lunch at this spectacular mountain top view of the area.  Our guide addressed the crowd while standing about a step away from a 500ft cliff face drop off.  Apparently they are not all that afraid of heights.  I personally was shitting in fear.  A couple from Canada dropped their lens cap over the edge by accident.  It was caught in some bushes about 10ft below the ledge.  Our guide tried to retrieve it with a pole before offering to go over the side for it (so long as someone held his feet).  Did I mention it was a sheer drop off for hundreds of feet below those bushes...crazy man crazy.

Speaking of shitting...Dana got the sudden urge while on the trail to relieve herself.  Thankfully it was just a number 1 from all the coca tea she drank.  Lesson one, if you find a good place to tinkle...some one likely has already found (and used) it.  We stationed ourselves on the trail as look outs while she climbed over a rock into a dense bush.  She then called out "um guys I thinks some one has already been here...yep and they definitely had some bowel problems."  When she climbed back down I noticed her right boot was ankle deep covered in mud.  As I was pointing it out to her, we both made the realization that it wasn't mud.  Girl shrieks of eeewwww and gagging followed.

Since our group of able bodied adults was making good time, the guide let us take a detour on the way to the camp.  He had to stay with the main group since some Germans with walking sticks were taking FOREVER, so we were on our own.  There were no other people on this trail off shoot so we took advantage of the lack of supervision to explore more.  We went off trail a little bit to this small hidden ruin that was still mostly covered with jungle.  It was cool to get up close to something few people actually see, but that scene in the movie The Ruins kept playing in the back of my mind.  If you haven't seen the movie... in a nutshell, people go explore a jungle covered ruin and then the plants eat them...end scene.

Our side trip was rewarded with unparalleled access to one of the biggest farming ruins around Machu Picchu.  Our time there was cut short because lightning started and we wanted to get back to camp before any downpour.

The camp was located next to some pay-per-use showers that were a welcome site.  Yes they were the most downtrodden jungle showers you have ever seen but man was it heaven.  Granted we have been hiking and sweating for three days straight all the while stepping in donkey (and human in Dana's case) poop.  Our wet wipe showers work in a pinch but it is a far cry from any form of sanitary feeling.  It was well worth the $5 for 5 minutes of lukewarm water even though soap and shampoo was not included.

We think this means don't touch.

More gorgeous pictures


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