I’m not a big fan of coca tea but the super caffeine jolt helps to mobilize my aching body after a restless night in our tent. Despite pure exhaustion, 3300 meters of altitude plays havoc with sleeping and the night passed by drifting in and out of consciousness.
Day 2 is well known to be the most difficult of the trek with legendary tales of Dead Woman’s Pass at 4200 meters. Karen wonders if she will be laid to rest as the latest victim of the pass but we come to find it is named simply because the rock formations appear from a distance to outline a woman in repose, or possibly dead. We may have to re-name it Dead Duck Pass!
We get to meet our Chaskis on a one to one basis after breakfast. They are mainly Quechua Indians, descendants of the ancient Incas. Chaski means runner as they were the people known to run along the trail delivering goods and messages. Today they haul our gear, our food and everything required to keep us travelling in relative comfort along the trail. David marvels at the “old guy” until we discover he is the same age as Karen. There is no more talk of age.
Each Chaski introduces himself in Spanish (their second language) and our guide Wilfredo along with his assistants Valentine and Filio translate into English for us and from English to Spanish and Quechua for them.
Wilfredo brings such passion to his descriptions of the wildlife, the ruins and the history of his people. He has studied tourism in University and has chosen to have his office in the mountains. He appears to love what he does. They all have infectious smiles and that helps us along the trail.
We stop to view a number of ruins along the way – each time learning more about the lives of the Incas and the history of the people. We soon discover that this trek is more about the journey than about the destination. We pass through rain forest, jungle and alpine regions. We make it over Dead Woman’s Pass only to discover another pass lies ahead. Many of us take time to look back to marvel at the distance we have travelled and the height we have obtained. I stop often to catch my breath. I don’t care how long it takes me to get to camp. I am happily absorbing all the sights and sounds. My body hurts but in a good way!
Tonight our camp is at 3400 meters and it is expected to be quite cold. David, Karen and I congratulate ourselves. We were on the move from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm but we are still in good spirits. I’m pretty sure that this trail is more demanding than the trek in Nepal but perhaps my memory is selective. The bottom line is that the worst (or was it the best?) is now over. Climbing into my down sleeping bag, I am reminded of when I was a little duckling.
Read about Day #3 Tuesday Aug 2nd