As we may have mentioned, when we leave Huancayo, we are meeting up with 17 friends and family in Cusco, in order to hike the Inca Trail for four days, ending in Machu Picchu. We figure that it will be a good way to leave South America after an extended stay.
We've been doing some warm-up hikes when we have the time, and did an epic one yesterday, gaining about 3,600 feet elevation, which is more and higher than the longest day on the trip. This is a message I sent to our friends/fellow victims:
Dear Inca Trailers: Yesterday we declared a Preparation Day and went on a hike out the front door. The weather was perfect, and we stuffed our packs with junk enough to match what we expect to be carrying. Luckily, we live a couple of blocks from some significant mountains, and we start at 10,700 feet at the house.
1. You can buy or rent better trekking poles than this beautiful model is demonstrating. Actually, this is her stream-crossing stick that she hides in the bushes and uses every time we go on this hike. It won't get stolen, but it's not carbon-fiber.
There is a road part of the way up, recently improved for the construction of towers for a new power line over the mountains.
2. Having a friend along to talk to makes the hike easier. This was Hayde, a nice 53-year-old lady on the way up the mountain to her potato patch, accompanied by her dogs, and followed by her husband with the three donkeys to carry the harvest back down.
3. I don't think we're going to have phone coverage for text messages during the hike.
4. One more evidence that Peruvians are a) immune to hard work or b) nuts or c) both. This is an old corral, which would be fine, except that it's at about 13,800 feet up the side of the mountain.
5. Don't trust barometric altimeters unless they are calibrated at a spot of known elevation. Weather changes can significantly alter the readings, as any pilot will tell you. This is approaching the top, but was reading several hundred feet lower.
6. The climb is usually worth the pain of the climb. We topped out a bit over 14,300 feet, with spectacular views.
7. It's hard to get lost when you can see your house during the entire hike.
8. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, use lots of sunscreen, and we're not kidding. We slopped it on before the 8-hour hike, but still got moderately burned. High altitude+full sun=burn, baby, burn. Also, even though we weren't in snow fields or anything drastic, my eyes were a little scratchy last night.
9. We're probably going to survive the most difficult day on the trail. I'm a bit sore this morning, but nothing too bad.
10. Go light. 'Nuff said.
We hope that your hikes are as rewarding, and use the hat. Words of wisdom from the bald guy.
Dave & Paula