Monday, April 9, 2012

Inca Trail - Day 2, Dead Woman's Pass

Every night we were on the trail it rained off and on while we slept. We had good tents that kept the water out, and I stayed nice and cozy in my bag. Unfortunately this is where the bathrooms along the trail started getting pretty disgusting. Mary burst out of one the bathrooms (the one with an actual commode rather than the hole in the ground) because a huge spider had decided to call it home. As our time on the trail continued, spiders became the least of our worries. The bathrooms became more and more disgusting because of the large number of people using them.  (And by bathrooms, I mean holes in the ground.) You see in Peru you are not to flush the toilet paper. You are to put it in a trash can.  If someone doesn't have a trash can in the loo, all bets are off.  Now, back to day 2...

The morning started with the porters coming to the tents saying, "Coca tea?" That sure beats an alarm clock. Around 7am, we had a good breakfast and then were formally introduced to our awesome porter team. It is amazing to watch these guys carry huge backpacks and move up and down the mountains.

I didn't know this at the time, but the day would start at a little under 10000 feet and reach almost 14000 feet. All I knew was that we were going to be walking uphill for hours until we were above that clouds. After we reached the clouds, we would keep going up. After reaching Dead Woman's Pass, we would then go back down until we reached the camp. I can safely say that I have never walked uphill for so long.

Not the top. A "heart stop" as Marg would call it.  A bit after this, it would once again start to rain.

                  Ines and Matt ascending
                              in the rain

After many, many hours and a pretty convincing false peak about which we had been forewarned, we reached the top of Dead Woman's Pass. Our celebration was very short lived because...
1. It was extremely windy.
2. It was extremely cold.
3. It started to hail.
4. There were people at the top freaking out because they didn't know which way to go.  (When in doubt on the Inca Trail, take the stairs.)  In their defense, it was very hard to see due to the hail and fog.

I took a few seconds to put a jacket on under my poncho and get a picture of Marg and Mary at the top.

There's Camp! Looooong way down.
As soon as that was done, it was time to get the heck off of that mountain. That meant going from 14000 feet to 11000 feet on steep steps in hail and rain. I was cold, soaked to the bone, and ready for this day to be done. You cannot imagine how happy I was to see our camp flag...

At camp it continued to rain, but life was a lot better after getting some dry clothes and some food since we had not eaten since breakfast. It was now around 3 pm. After a little bit of rest, the group met in the tent for dinner and to prepare for the next day. Day 3 would include two more smaller ascents, the longest distance traveled in a day on the trail and the most awesome downhill.... ever.

Lost some GPS signal. Closer to 7 miles, but here is the gist.

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