Working the Gringo Killer (Kristine Kyllander)
In Tim's words ''This is no joke!'' The hiking on day two was difficult made more so by the fact that we didn't really get much sleep our first night in our tents. We all had the crazy assumption that roosters only started crowing in the morning as the sun was rising but at the campsite in Huayllabamba, they crow ALL night long. Eventually they are joined by sounds of donkeys as well which was the better indication that morning was approaching. But you didn't actually need the roosters or the donkeys since our porters were knocking on our tent flaps with a ''Buenos Dias'' accompanied by hot water for coffee or tea well before the sun was up. There is a reason that the climb on day two is known as the ''Gringo Killer'' and ''Dead Woman's Pass''! You climb about 4000 feet before reaching the pass. But as difficult as it is, the journey is totally worth the effort! Tim's favorite parts of the hike included the sections were you were engulfed in the cloud forest and we had a good section of this during day 2. My brother says he will never forget the look on my face as it was instantly transformed from exhausted exertion from climbing to wondrous joy and excitement upon seeing my first wild llama grazing along the trail. When I look back on this day, the main thing that comes to mind was how the incline just never seemed to end - I stopped often on the pretense of taking lots of pictures. I tried chewing the coco leaves but I never quite got the hang of spitting so the rest of my stash was ultimately disbursed among Teddy and our porters. Speaking of porters - these guys are incredible! We start our hike while they pack up the campsite and about an hour or so later, one by one, they start jogging past us on the trail. By the time we reach our lunch site, they have the kitchen and dining tents set up, water boiled and ready for us to wash up with and a hot drink of some sort waiting for us. After lunch, we start walking again and an hour or so later, here come our porters. We had a couple of porters who were in their mid-50's, wearing sandals, carrying their weight in our stuff on their backs and still running past us along the trail. It truly is a sight. Our trek was planned for four days which felt like the perfect amount of time in terms of not feeling rushed but also not having too much down time but Teddy was telling us that they hold an annual race every year and the record time is under four HOURS. When you ultimately reach Dead Woman's Pass, the views are out of this world and the sense of accomplishment is astonishing. At that point, it becomes clear that you've completed the most difficult portion of the trek and for me at least, I was able to relax knowing that I would be able to finish the journey we had started.
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