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Day 7; Wednesday April 7, 2010 (Day 3 of the Inca Trail)
Machu Picchu Pilgrimage

Trail at Pisac Inca PlaceTrail at Pisac Inca Place (Robert Anaya)
We were out of the tent by 5:45 a.m. to use the bathroom. Linda said she didn’t sleep well but I did. We sponged bathed in the tent, packed or personal belongings, and then headed for breakfast. We enjoyed yet another tasty breakfast of pancakes, toast, coffee and hot chocolate. Our hike began at 7:30 a.m. and it was straight uphill. Ayul told us to expect a pretty steep climb for about 2 hours, but that this would be our last, big, uphill climb. The hike up to Runkuraqay Pass was not as difficult as yesterday’s hike but it did have some steep areas near the top. Most of the tour groups were on this part of the trail at the same time, so it was quite busy. It seemed as though, over the last three days, we were playing a game of leap frog with the other group as we hiked the trail. At the top of the last climb the greetings and comments between everyone was much more personalized and friendlier, it seemed that everyone knew each other personally. Linda said she was feeling tired and I wasn’t feeling very well myself. We rested at the top for about 30 minutes and then began the long climb down. This is where my problems started. About 20 minutes into the hike down my stomach started to grumble accompanied with sharp stomach pains, I quickly realized I needed a squatty potty! Unfortunately, there are not many trees or bushes above the 12,000 ft. level, and I could forget about a squatty potty! Adding more misery to my situation was the fact that the trail was heavily populated with other trekkers. I tried using the “mind over matter” strategy. I resisted thinking of the grumbling in my bowels, but it didn’t help. Finally, I asked Ayul how far it was to the next rest area with a squatty potty and he answered 1.5 hours. I said “holy guacamole” and started downhill. After another 10 minutes of walking, we went through a small rock cave and Linda wanted to take a picture of us. I thought this might be my chance to sneak away, but no luck. I could see people coming down the hill behind us. I was getting desperate so I thought that maybe letting out a little digestive gas would help relieve some of the pressure building up in my bowels; well I’ll just use the term “Shart”. If you don’t know what it means, use your imagination. The next hour of hiking was miserable. Linda will have to tell me about this part of the trail because I don’t remember any part of it. We finally got to a part of the trail that was wooded and had huge bushes. I asked Ayul how far to our stop; 10 more minutes he replied. I told him of my stomach problems and that I desperately needed to go ahead of them and would meet back up at the rest area. I picked up my trekking poles and took off running down the trail. The porters nicknamed me Mercury, after the Greek God, because they’ve never seen anyone run that fast on the trail. Unfortunately, I was not fast enough. I ducked into a small path off the main trail and took care of business, what a relief. I got back on the trail and headed toward the rest area only to find out that I was within 2 minutes of a bathroom with running water. Oh well, some days you’re the dog, some day you’re the hydrant. We all met up at the rest area around 11:30. Mario had lunch ready, which consisted of soup, beef, rice and vegetables. My stomach still was not quite right, so I only ate a small portion, but Linda had a full meal. I still had major stomach problems and had to sprint to the bathroom again. After discussing my symptoms with Ayul, he decided to treat me with Cipro, a strong antibiotic. After a good rest, we started hiking at around 1:30. This part of the trail was rolling, but not too difficult. We arrived at Phuyupatamarka, our final camp, at around 3:30. The translation of Phuyupatamarka from Quechan means “City above the Clouds”. After a short snack and a few pictures, one of my favorite pictures came from this camp site, we went to the tent for a short nap. Dinner was at 7 p.m. Mario served spaghetti with homemade sauce, very tasty. Linda was tired, and still full from lunch, so she stayed in the tent and slept. There was only one other group staying at this site because the other groups continued on to the last campsite, Winaywayna. If we would have continued on to Winaywayna with the other groups we would have only had 2 hours of hiking in the morning to reach Machu Picchu, but it would have been another 2 plus hours to get to the camp site; I’m glad we stopped. After dinner and some casual conversation with Ayul, I went to bed at around 8:30; Linda was already sleeping. After I settled into the tent, it started to rain. This was the only night that it rained.

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