The Inca Trail was my motivation to get fit, the beginning of my interest in trekking and the kick start to a renewed passion for travel after a 10 year hiatus. It was a victory!
My friend and I decided to do the Inca Trail in 2010. Neither of us had ever trekked at any kind of altitude so the thought was a little daunting. We trained at home, doing regular hill walks but really had no way to prepare for the altitiude.
I clearly remember our first hill walk, one that we did daily leading up to our trek. It is a steep climb over a hill but in no way daunting for any one with a tiny bit of fitness. We started off, quickly passed 3 old gents, thinking we will probably see them again when we come down. Hmmmm……… within 5 minutes I was a huffing, sweaty, red faced wheezeball who was gasping for breath while the 3 old gents calmly overtook us with a kind word of encouragement and left us for dead! We had a good laugh about that.
The Inca trail is a 4 day hiking rail which follows an unbelieveable stone path made by the Incas leading from the Sacred Valley to Machuu Pichuu. The hike leads you over three high passes, through valleys with sweeping views, along narrow ridges with steep drop offs and through unbeilievable and almost incomprehensible archaeological ruins.
The trail is a victory for mankind and all credit must be given to the Incas. Stone terraces clinging to hillsides, the path and the village ruins show an incredible engineering feat achieved with ancient technology.
The highest point of the trail is Dead Woman’s Pass. It is at 4215m, above sea level. Mt Cook is NZ highest mountain and it is only 3724m. We crossed the pass on day 2 of our trek. I was almost crawling to get to the top but the view was worth it, a victory.
At this altitude people do sucummb to altitude sickness. It seems not to be a matter of physical fitness as some much fitter and younger people than me were ill and some even had to return. Slow and sure plus lots of water seem to be the secret. I just plodded on up one foot in front of the other, rembering the old fellows from our first day training and the fact that it is not a race. As I dragged myself to the top I wondered how many women had died getting up here, the name of the pass making me think I should have made my final wishes clear before leaving home. However I found out later the pass is not named for a death toll but rather when seen from the valley below, its crests resemble the form of a woman’s supine body.
After Dead Woman’s pass you drop in altitude but still climb many a steep path. The last day involves leaving camp at about midnight and walking up to the Sun Gate (2720m) in the dark to watch the sunrise over Machuu Pichuu as it lies below. It was a truly spectacular sight and the feeling of accomplishing our task was indeed victorious.
Having completed the Inca Trail, I realised I was capable of more. It set me on a path of more adventurous travel. I have since spent a year traveling the world during which time I went trekking in the Himilayas and did 9 days on the Annapurna Circuit, I have summited Mt Kinabalu the highest peak in Sth Easy Asia 4095 metres and recently trekked to Stella Point on Mt Kilimanjaro at 5685 metres along with many other travel adventures. Since my victory of accomplishing the IncaTtrail I am much more likely to get out and about and do day hikes up into the back and beyond. My victorious experience has led to places and views I would never have tried to get to previously. I am more adventourous for it. A true victory leading to wonderful new opportunities and destinations for me!
Dead Woman’s Pass
Ruins on the Trail
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Victory.”
My heart goes out to the people of France today and to all those affected by the senseless act of terroism that occurred in Paris yesterday. It must be said that there is no victory for the perpetrators of such wanton violence. Any organisation that believes their cause justifies such actions is sadly mistaken. The people who orchestrated this attack may say they did it in the name of their religion but I hope that we will not blame the Muslim faith as I have met many wonderful people who practice this religion with great kindness and compassion but rather we need to recognise them as not a religion but a fanatical organisation which should be held to account.
Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu