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Inca Trail Day 2 (Peru)

Our second day of hiking was the most intense, but also the most rewarding…

The night before, after we had finished Day 1, the tour guide told us that Day 2 would be easier than Day 1. Of course, everyone scoffed at him and told him that was a total lie… But I think he gave us a little bit of hope that an “easy” second day would be possible.

On Day 2, we woke up at 5am, ate breakfast, and hit the trail around 630am. We hiked for at least six hours straight until lunchtime and ten miles total. Dead Woman’s Pass was the highest pass of the day, almost 14000ft above sea level. Holy mackerel, that was tough. It was pure uphill, and steep too. By the time the Lion and I reached DWP, the sun was blazing above us, making the trek all the more difficult. I was barely breathing by the time we reached the top, though miraculously, I didn’t have a headache or feel nauseous; my chest was just extremely tight, and my little heart was beating hard and fast to keep up. The views were equally nice as we were climbing, but the trail was so narrow that between plastering myself to the mountainside to avoid being knocked off by porters running up the trail and trying to maintain my balance and not fall off the cliff from wooziness, I didn’t even bother taking any pictures. From below, DWP was simply a flat part of the mountain. It’s not as impressive from up top… At least, I didn’t think so. Nonetheless, the last of us were extremely relieved to have made it. The hardest part of the day/whole hike was over… Or so we thought. The only comfort that I had was that 1) every step took me closer, and if I could take at least 20 steps at a time before resting, I was already doing phenomenal, and 2) at least I didn’t have to carry all my stuff and more AND run the trail, like the porters were doing. An extra $70 to rent a porter for the hike was worth every penny, and then some. I also developed some undeserved hatred for our tour guide during this part. I remember thinking that I was “going to pummel him with my walking stick when I [got] up there,” because somehow he was responsible for my suffering (of course, he wasn’t, not like he designed the trail or something… Those darn Incans…!).

Going down from DWP was equally difficult, if not more. The way down was extremely steep as well. I’m so glad the Lion rented a walking stick for me. That $8 was another example of money well spent on this hike. I relied heavily on that piece of plastic with a rubber tip!! The steps were not only steep, they were also not very wide, extremely deep, and completely unpaved, so that I had to watch where I was placing my feet so I didn’t roll my ankle. It was treacherous, to say the least. Falling and hitting any part of your body on those rocks would do more than bruise you. There were definitely times when I had to take it one step at a time instead of skipping down the steps like those crazy porters. Additionally, I didn’t know better at the time and would drop all my body weight onto my foot that was on the bottom step (in other words, falling onto the next step instead of gently stepping down), and within a few hundred steps, I developed a massive headache and knee pain. It’s not really beneficial to develop knee pain when you’re less than halfway done with a 26 mile hike…

Lunch again was fantastic. I had more of an appetite today because I knew the hardest part of the day (and the hike) was over, and I felt competent that I had made DWP in one piece and without any altitude sickness medicine. I was also slightly more social, but not anymore than my headache allowed, unfortunately.

After lunch, we continued hiking down, down, down, with more of those steep, deep, crazy rocky steps. I don’t think I had an expectation for how the trail was going to look or what it would be paved with (if at all), but I was certainly not expecting all those GD rocks. It literally look like they took a bunch of rocks and just scattered them all over the trail in a pool of concrete. I kept thinking it was like a giant vomited a bunch of rocks all over and it became the trail (although we learned that the Inca trail used by the Inca kings was always treacherous and tiring because they believed that you were only able to “connect” with the spiritual world through suffering…).

One Inca ruin we stopped at is called Runcuraccay. Elvis theorizes that the remains of a round building suggests that this place was a prayer spot or a temple. It’s difficult to tell from my pictures that the structure is round; you’d get a better idea if you search the ruin name 😉 The last picture with the little square ruin was probably a relay messenger’s quarters. Elvis explained that sometimes the kings would need messages relayed between the mountains and Cusco, and so messengers would relay messages within a short amount of time. These served as resting spots where the message would get passed on to the next runner.

We were a little behind schedule towards the end of Day 2. Or rather, the Lion and I were because I was taking my time, being careful I didn’t injure myself any further, and the Lion being patient and waiting for me. We completely passed up an Incan ruin (Sayacmarca?) and went straight to camp because we didn’t want to be hiking treacherous terrain with the risk of falling over a cliff into the rainforest abyss. My knees were also in a lot of pain, and my legs had turned into jelly right about then. But we pushed on and made it to camp before sunset, woo!


Dinner was delicious, especially because we had all made it! We camped at Chaquicocha, about 11000ft high. Again, I was extremely relieved we had arrived and was ready to fall into the sleeping bag, but first, an amazing dinner, as usual. I enjoyed this camping site a lot because the bathrooms were right next to our tents; I’m not sure my legs/knees would have made it much further. And as you can probably imagine, jelly legs and sore knee joints make squatting to relieve yourself pretty difficult…

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