Peru TravelBlog 08 Index

3.15.08 The Inca Trail Part 1

Five days have passed since I returned from my trip on the Inca Trail—that was last Monday night. Tuesday, I could barely make it up and down the stairs to my loft. I wasn't sure how long it would take before I could walk normally again. But after doing yoga Tuesday and Wednesday, I was back to normal. I have been pretty tired the last couple of days, so perhaps I am still working at regaining my strength.

Who ever told me I could do this? Well, a few people, and I believed them! I had no idea of what I was getting into. The walk was arduous, and just when I thought I could go no farther, there was a steep, giant pass in front of me.

But, as is always the case, the angels were sent to assist. For the second and third days, I was able to hire a porter to help. Even though I tried to pack as light as I could, all of those little things added up—especially the 2 mangoes. To have help with the load really saved me. The mountain we climbed on the 2nd day is called "dead woman's pass" to give you an idea of the severity of the steepness. What made it even more difficult was that a lot of the hill was made up of steps. I would look as I walked to find the shortest place to step up. I felt sorry for myself having such short legs, being sure that those with longer legs were having an easier time. (In truth, I doubt this is a fact—I don't think it was necessarily "easy" for anyone.)

So back to the angels. I was sitting along the side of the path taking a break with a few guys from Sweden when I hear, "Copperwoman, I was wondering who that stylishly dressed Gringa up ahead was." And there came, Tryphena—a woman from Eureka who I met years ago at the Women's Herbal Symposium and also a "friend-in-common" with my buddy Four Waters. She told me that when she met me, she bought my CD and has been singing my songs as they have sprung out of her in various appropriate situations over the years ever since. This was quite timely as I had been telling my new friends the night before about my songs and website and CD's. And there came living proof. They then referred to me as the famous Copperwoman.

As an aside here, I shall mention that at dinner on the second night, I couldn't go any longer without doing a bit of singing. I sang my Spanish song, "El Sol Esta en Mi Corazón" and did around of "Send You Love." It was fun to sing but I was the only one brave enough to get "out there" with a song. Did a round of "by the Rivers of Babylon" and Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" but fell short on the words. The next day Jerome, my French friend (who carried my excess baggage on the last day) admitted to me that he knew the words but was a terrible singer so he kept his mouth shut. He LOVES reggae music.

Anyway, Tryphena showed up just before the hardest part of the whole journey—that pass I referred to previously—that is named so that you wonder if you will come out alive. We walked together and philosophized which helped to distract us from the task at hand. The breaks during this phase came more often and she stuck with me when I needed to rest. We chewed on our coca leaves praying for energy and continued to climb. There was quite a difference on this trip to have someone to walk with during the gruelling parts.

It is hard to see in the pictures the steepness of the climb. If you look at the picture below, notice the trail behind us and the other mountains to get an idea of what it was like to walk from the bottom.

After this picture, I backtrack to the beginning of the walk.

Here I stand with Tryphena, at the top of Dead Woman's Pass—
both quite alive, well
perhaps, somewhat dead.

The view from the bus on the way to Ollantaytambo
where we begin the walk.

Notice the highest point on this map. It is called Warmiwamisca
(pass of the woman that died) and is 13,776 ft. elevation.

Our elegant lodging—camp, the first night.
What do we do with all of these wet clothes?

Our dining room. The food was ok, edible, not great.
There was however, quite a feast on the last day,
just before the plug for the tip for the porters and cooks.

Modern irrigation in a village along the way.

On the left shows the beginnings of "Dead Woman's Pass."

Up we go. A shot of the section I just climbed.

Perseverance furthers.

I met a couple along the way that were older than me.
We kept giving each other encouragement.
You can see them on the right in this photo
just before reaching the top.

Here we are again, at the top.

And over the other side— at last, my chance to excel. Much to my surprise, I found a place along the way where I could pass everyone. This is a view going down the other side of the mountain. I hopped skipped and jumped over the rocks. The rock-hopping skills I developed as a kid allowed me to fly down the mountainside, leaving the rest to their carefully placed walking sticks and baby steps.


I had even left Tryphena behind feeling a little guilty as she had
stuck with me on the uphill climb. But as I ran down the
mountain side who should catch up with me but, Tryphena—
she who had the same skills and had to pass everyone as well.

Notice how the trail leads to the camp for night two.
Look carefully to see the small colony of tents.

The trail pictured here is where we head out on the morning of day 3.

View from camp on morning of day 3.

Back up again. Those are the amazing porters on the right. Those are propane tanks you see carried by the porter on the left and below.

The porters, wow! Can you carry me?

Continue on to the Jungle Side of the Trail
by clicking on the forward arrow below.