Thursday, July 26, 2012

Inca Trail Day 1: Don’t let a burro push you off the path.

On the first day of our trek, our team was picked up from each of our hotels between 5 and 6am, and then we drove to the town of Ollantaytambo.  We stopped for 40 minutes to pick up last minute essentials (water, walking poles, snacks, etc) and to allow for those who wanted to to eat breakfast.  Then it was back to the bus, to drive another hour and a half to Kilometer 82, where the trek began.  The last few miles of the road were one lane wide, and several times our bus had to stop and back up to a point where an oncoming vehicle could pass us, or vice versa.  It was quite the interesting ride. 

Once at Kilometer 82, our sleeping bags and mats were passed out, and we figured out how to tie them onto our packs in a comfortable manner, then set off.

Our guide, Saul (or more often called by his trail nickname, Cocaman), gave us a few pointers before heading out.
1)      Don’t get in the way of the porters.  They have to get to camp before us to set up the tents and make our meals, so move to the side if one is coming up behind you.  (Side-note: porters are nearly superhuman in what they can carry and how fast they can move.) 
2)      If you come upon a burro on the trail, take the inside path and force the burro to walk on the outside.  Don’t let the burro push you off the path.  This has apparently been an occurrence in the past. 

It’s quite safe to say that on Day 1, we were all a little nervous and very naïve as to what the trek would bring.  We knew that Day 1 was supposed to be the “easy day,” and so when we saw our first minor uphill climbs, our nerves took over.  However, we all survived quite easily.  We would only realize the next day that we didn’t know the meaning of tired.

Day one was really quite pleasant.  The views were beautiful, following a river valley, most of the walk was rather flat, and we spent time getting to know one another a little bit.  After dinner at the campsite that night, many of us stayed up talking, looking at the stars, or passing around a beer to celebrate a good day’s hard work.  The simple fact that we had the energy to stay up past 8:30pm was in and of itself a testament to the difficulty of the day’s walk; it was the only night of the trek that most of us would stay up after dinner’s completion. 

Starting at Kilometer 82

Our first set of Inca ruins

I think all of us—except G-Money, who was unfortunately struck sick that night (more on that later)—went to bed quite content that night.  

View from the campsite on Night 1

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