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Inca Trail: Day 2

Morning in the Sacred Valley
Morning in the Sacred Valley
This was the day I was a little worried about on the hike. I had been so busy at work before I left that I hadn't really had time to prepare, and everyone warned me that this was the killer day. It's about the same length as the first day, but is straight up and then a little down at the end. We started hiking at about 7:00 am and immediately the trail started going steeply uphill. The first hour felt the worst, and I was beginning to wonder how much I was going to hate myself by the end of the day as the trail had just started, but after we had been going for a while, I got into a rhythm. This day is approximately a 5 hour hike all uphill, and then about an hour down hill (depending on your speed). The pass of Warmiwanusca - or Dead Woman's Pass - is the highest point of the Inca Trail at 14,000 ft, which is a 4,000 ft elevation gain. Although going up stair after stair after stair begins to wear on the muscles, it was nice because we could go at our own pace. The people that I saw who were really having a hard time were those that were trying to go to fast, or "race" their neighbors. I also recommend taking short breaks - don't stop for long or it makes it harder to start again!

Even though I felt completely acclimatized before we began, by the time we were nearing the 14,000 ft point, I could really tell a difference in my lungs. We reached the top of the pass, and sat for a moment - it was really cold and windy up there, but the feeling of satisfaction was tremendous. Our starting point that morning was so far down the mountain, that we couldn't even see where we had begun! It certainly was humbling, however, to see the porters carrying their heavy bags sprint past you up the hill.

From there, it was an hour hike straight down stairs - a little sad after all that hard-earned elevation gain. We camped that night at Pacamayu, which is at the base of a beautiful waterfall. The mists set in that afternoon, and I got quite chilly after being so hot and sweaty while hiking. I was glad I had brought that long underwear.

Surprisingly today wasn't as hard as I had psyched myself up for. It was still a challenging hike, and being young and fit certainly helps, but it is definitely do-able for those that are in good shape.

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