Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Inca Trail-Day 1

Morning dawned, well not so much dawned as a lightening of the gray and rainy sky, on the day we were to start the 4 day hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. I awoke with a need to go to the potty, and promptly began taking anti-biotics due to, well, you know. Breakfast was good, more cocoa tea (I was getting a bit tired of it at this point) and an egg with bread and jam. After that we waited, as usual, waited for the bus that was to take us to Kilometer 82, the traditional start to the trail. We waited some more. After an hour or more, the bus arrives and we get all our gear loaded and off we go into the rain.

We finally got to the beginning of the trail, and it was raining, raining, raining. We all get under these open-aired shelters and our trail guide, Julio, went through the 4 days in summary. The place was packed with tourists and porters. The porters were stacking up our porter bags and weighing these piles of stuff, some were carried by blankets knotted at the chest, others were carried by traditional shoulder straps, all looked super heavy. Finally, we start down by the river to begin the trek. Oops, not yet. There was a passport check, which we all had to go through, along with our trail permits. Several people had incorrect information on their permits, I was male, Karen had the wrong passport number, and one of our group, Jenny had mysteriously aged a decade. Finally, we all get through the checkpoint and start the trek.

We crossed the river and then there was a steep, but fairly short ascent. I nearly passed out at the top. I finally realized I was not in good shape and took a Perivian altitude pill, which seemed to help. Or, maybe it helped that the trail was mostly level. The rain stopped after about an hour or so, and we hiked past some small and then a large set of Incan ruins. The ruins were pretty cool, so much still standing and so organized looking. We were told that many of the ruins along the way were way stations, military outposts, or food storage places.

At lunch (around 3 pm) we had our first taste of expedition trekking. The dining tent was set up, and we had a huge lunch, with salad, soup and entree. All very good. We also had our first use of the porcelin pit for a bathroom. We called them squatters and came to prefer them to the alternative. The last part of Day 1 was a climb up to camp 1, from another checkpoint. I nearly passed out on that climb as well and stumbled into camp 1, very discouraged and dizzy. At the camp, there were a couple of families living in their adobe huts with no glass in the windows and no indoor plumbing. The toilet was the 2nd variety we found along the trail, a toilet bowl with no seat. We hated them.

Dinner was again a lot of food, and most of the group played cards for a bit before dinner. I slept. The trek was not turning out so good for me.

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