As bedtime is usually at around 8pm when the sun sets and dinner is over, waking up early to hike at 5 or 6am is usually not a problem. Day 2 of The Inca Trail has been said to be the hardest day of all as we will reach the highest altitude point of Dead Woman`s Pass at around 4,200M. Not only can altitude sickness due to lower atmospheric pressure kick in, the walk itself would be a steep incline.
Alicia and I were the youngest members within our hiking group (other than one boy who was there with his family on a 1 year trip to travel the world! How cool is that?). However, we were one of the slowest walkers in the group….. Alicia, one of the fittest people I know, was surprisingly quite affected by the altitude and lack of oxygen. It was very strange to see her out of breath. I on the other hand, was relatively unaffected and am just probably out of shape, or not as fit as the others 😦 It was quite embarrassing to be honest as some of the other group mates were in their 30’s and 40’s!
However on this day 2 trail, I have discovered my strength in long distance hiking on incline terrains! Day 2 was set up in the way that you walk for 2-3 hours on your own pace whereas in Day 1 we would walk for about half an hour to an hour, and always regroup before starting again. I’ll walk slowly, but very consistently and never stop for breaks especially on staircases (unless absolutely necessary) because I find stopping kills the momentum and makes it harder to continue with the same speed again. I guess slow and steady does win the race as I made it up to Dead Woman’s pass 4th out of 14 people.
Finishing early amongst the group was a proud moment of mine and also a relief as it gave me about half an hour or so of resting time before we were to start again. Keep in mind this first half of the 12km hike took around 2-3 hours.
After a short break, we started the hike to go down the mountain to our camp spot. Going downhill was much harder for me as I was very worried on putting my foot wrongly on the rocky trails and slipping, so I had walked much more cautiously and slowly. Unfortunately rain started to pour in the afternoon making the trail even more slippery. I did have one fall when I was very close to the camp grounds, but no injuries luckily.
As it was raining I went straight into our tent to change and rest up as the 6 hour hike had left me completely spent.
We basically only come out of the tent for meal times haha and shortly after dinner we had to head back into our tents to sleep / rest as without any electricity or lamps it was pitch black outside if not for flashlights. Our food tent was also the sleeping/resting tent for all the porters, so we couldn’t hang around there without feeling bad. We were actually quite shocked when we discovered that was their only accommodation, because it meant the porters basically slept side by side in a row, and just on the dirt ground (with their sleeping bags and mats).
By the second day we were all quite used to the hiking and camping lifestyle that we weren’t too worried about the next day’s trek, and were quite eager to finish the hike in order to reach Machu Picchu.