May 3, 2013
The Real Journey Begins
Inca Trail Day 1: Huayllabamba, Inca Trail
I was a bundle of nerves and excitement as this day began. Had we physically prepared enough? Had we packed correctly? Would I starve, or worse, get sick on the trail? Could I make it four days without plumbing? Would Tim's knee be okay? Would we make it to Machu Picchu in one piece and still in love? Would the journey be as magical as I had imagined and live up to my expectations?
Adventure Life had provided us all with a duffle bag for the Trek portion of our trip. Each of us was to pack so that our bag weighed no more than 8 kilos (approximately 17 1/2 pounds) - including our sleeping bags. I am going to brag a bit here and say that my bag was the only one that made it on the first try - I am the type of person who planned out what I was packing on a spreadsheet and then weighed it at home a week before we even left the United States. Tim's was close but his bag did not include his sleeping bag. My brother and Bridget's bags practically broke the scale! They thought that as long as it fit in the bag, the weight didn't matter! Ha! They spent much of the morning repacking.
The drive to the staging area was slow as many buses were already on their way back to Ollantatambo after dropping off their groups. We may have been the last ones to start the trail this day and I'm pretty sure that our guide, Teddy, did that by design. It is true that the experience on the trail is made even more wonderful by the feeling that you are the only ones on it at any given point in time. The trail is regulated and they only allow 500 people on it per day. On the day we began there were 22 different groups of various sizes including ours which contained the four travelers, Teddy, our Chef Danny and eleven porters. We were originally scheduled to have ten porters but during our picnic in the sacred valley, my brother was asking Teddy if our chairs during the trek would be the same as the picnic chairs we were using. Teddy laughed and said no - that the trek chairs were just a strip of canvas with no back. Bryan wanted to know how much it would cost to hire an additional porter just to carry chairs and Teddy laughed but made a call and we got an extra porter to carry chairs for us. I should probably mention that we also had special extra large sleeping tents for our group as well but that was more out of necessity than luxury since Tim is 6'9 and Bryan is 6'7. I certainly didn't complain - especially once we saw what the other groups were sitting on and sleeping in!
Day one of the trail was not very difficult with only a couple of lengthy gradual inclines and one steep incline to traverse. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm with a light breeze and cloud cover later in the day. We passed through a couple of occupied villages as well as by the ruins of Llactapata during the day and the whole time we were able to hear and usually see the Urubamba River along the way. On this day of the trek there were places to purchase water, Gatorade, or coco leaves every hour or so which was something I hadn't expected. We passed by plenty of ''burritos''(aka donkeys), ''KFC'' or ''chicken nuggets''(chickens/roosters), ''McDonalds'' (cows), and of course the perros (dogs). The landscape was stunning and the camera was working overtime.
We felt so fortunate to have Teddy with us as he is extremely knowledgeable, not just about his country's history, but also about the flora and fauna. He is a bird watcher as well and can identify most species from very far away. We started calling him ''El Presidente'' because EVERYONE seems to know him! And he was totally entertaining with sharing his stories of his travels and experiences helping the underprivileged youth in Peru.