I was so excited to start my independent adventure on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu when I woke up yesterday. I had purchased all of my warm-weather clothes and extra toilet paper, and I was ready to take on the world.
We got a bit of a slow start, sitting in a van for three hours and then visiting a natural hot spring for two…not that I mind visiting natural hot springs (I actually love them), but this all seemed a big distraction from the main event, our trek!
Sure enough, after a nice long lunch (we have an amazing chef, Gabbino, traveling with us), we set off for our first three-hour leg. We climbed 500 meters during this three hours, but we only trekked 3 miles. And it felt like 10. It was freezing by the time we reached our destination for the night (so much so that I snuggled with a mother/son team to stay warm for sleep), and I was having real trouble breathing.
Now I’ve hiked at this altitude before, and at this temperature, but never together. And I just couldn’t do it. At dinner, my snuggle-mates and I decided that, rather than trek the 800 meter climb this morning, we’d spring for horses instead.
Admittedly, the horse ride was amazing. My pelvis is bruised, but riding the horse allowed me to soak in the stunning natural beauty of the Andes Mountains that surrounded me. And Christian, my eight-year old guide, trekked the entire 800 meters in two hours without taking a single break, and in sandals none-the-less (we were surrounded by ice and snow).
But then we trekked the long 1300 meter descent, and my knees nearly gave out. I was hiking as fast as I could just to be finished with the hike, and as I was complaining to myself, I stopped to think, “Am I just not as strong when I’m alone?” When I trek with Andrew, we never opt for the horses, and we always stick it out.
Did I sell out today?