Today was the third day of the hike and involved 2 more passes, but after yesterday, they felt like nothing. You start off climbing straight up to the top of the next pass to the ruins of Runkuraqay. Today is the day that you start to transition into the cloudforest zone, and I think it is the most beautiful day of the Inca Trail. We saw lots of wildflowers and birds and heard hundreds of little frogs ribbetting along the path. By midday we made it to the ruins of Sayacmarca, which I loved. I hadn't realized how cool these other ruins would be that you get to see along the way, and learning about the Inca culture and customs really sets you up for a greater understanding and appreciation of Machu Picchu. After lunch, we went over the next minor pass to Phuyupatamarca. Oftentimes, our guides will camp here and some will continue on to Winay Wayna, depending on weather conditions and group size. We continued onto Winay Wayna that night, but I would definitely recommend staying at Phuyuptamarca if it works out. From Phuyuptamarca, you start going down, down, down and down more stairs. Corbin has bad ankles, and he had the hardest time with this day, but since I am not in as good of shape as he is (and my ankles and knees are fine), for me the uphill was the hardest!
By mid-afternoon, we finally came onto a clearing and could see Machu Picchu mountain -- what a feeling knowing Machu Picchu was just down the mountain and around the corner! After days of hiking it was so rewarding to see the end in sight. I was so excited! We went down a couple of more hours and located our campsite at Winay Wayna, which is only a couple of hours from Machu Picchu. Our cook made us a special dinner, and we celebrated with our porters and guides. Tonight was pretty loud in the campsite, so I could definitely see why our guides prefer to stay further back. Winay Wayna does have a place where you can buy beer or soda, and you can also pay a couple of dollars for a hot water shower (if there is hot water left).