We started going on hikes in July 2011 (and discovered EveryTrail) to get in shape for a trip to Peru including a 4 day hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. 40 hikes later we finally did it!I tracked each day with my Garmin 450 and then merged the 4 gpx tracks into this one. I forgot to change the time zone setting on my camera so those pictures were 2 hours off, while pictures that I took with my iPhone had the correct time. I tried to fix things afterwards so that the pictures would be in order, but I'm not sure I was entirely successful.My wife took notes during the hike, so the following is from her notes.
Day 1: We checked in at the control station at Kilometer 82 of the Inca Trail. Had to stand in line for some time while they verified that everyone had a permit to hike the trail. Then we crossed the bridge over the Urubamba river, and off we went.
Rain came off and on until midday but never too much. We had our morning snack at a little “village” with a “baño” (we had to pay 1 Peruvian Sol to use the "facilities").
We had lunch in the rain in our cool orange “dining tent”, and learned how to use our portable hand washing stations and pottie tents. We learned to appreciate our porters! They always had lunch ready for us around midday and our tents set up when we got to camp. They would pass us along the trail carrying their heavy loads and on their feet they only wore rubber sandals. As they passed we would say "Sulpayki!", which is Quechuan for thank you. We camped along a rushing river near the Kusichaca bridge. The skies were beautiful and clear and saw two shooting stars.Day 2:
Wake up call with hot (well sort of) water to wash, and a hot drink to your tent. Kinda like room service?
Hiked up nearly 4000 ft to Abra Warmiwanusqa (“Dead Woman’s Pass”). (Most likely named by a man.)
A strenuous hike to say the least!! Took 4 hours to lunch then two more to the pass. Kathy, Yvonne and I were the last up with Jairo looking out for us. (Applause greeted us as we reached the summit – haha). It took another 2 hours down with Claudia guiding us to camp just before dusk.
This was the hardest day they said, and we believe it. Another cold and beautiful night for stars along a rushing stream. Saw a large “Giant hummingbird” (the largest hummingbird and only in the Andes), llamas, lots of bromeliads, royal salvias, and unca trees. Learned "kusi" which is Quechuan for "happy" and "ayi" for "yes". "Wasi" is "home" or "house".
Our porter cooks made us Popcorn before dinner!Day 3:
Passed through Abra Runkurakay (the second high pass on the trail at about 13,000 ft (the first yesterday was at 14,000 ft) and snacked at the pass. Cairns abound at the pass but here they are an offering of thanks to Mother Earth (Pachamama).
Another beautiful day! Had lunch watching llamas play fighting, and visited Sayaqmarka ruins (means "inaccessible").
Next part of the hike to camp was through a cloud forest and there was bamboo, wild orchids and prehistoric ferns. The trail goes through some” tunnels” here as well. Several waterfalls could be seen on the mountainsides as we hiked.
We arrived at Phuyupatamarka for the most amazing campsite and view (12,299 ft.)! We could see two glacier covered mountain peaks: Veronica at 18,872 ft. to the east, in the Urumbamba range we had been seeing along the trail, and Salkantay (the “male” mountain at 20,581 ft.) to the south. The legend has it that there are three mountains guarding Cuzco (Cuzco being the navel of the world) with the third being like a “brother” to Salkantay, named Ausengate.
Claudia told a nice story about two cousins traveling to Salkantay to ask for help. The moral being that the mountain will give you just what you need, but not more.
Jairo gave us a tour of the beautiful clear night sky and we all saw two shooting stars!
Camp at Phuyupatamarka is spectacular. Overlooks Mountains and glaciers all around. Tents over the clouds. Gorgeous.Day 4:Wake up at 5 and hike up to a plateau to see the sun rise over the Veronica range (Urubamba) with ice capped ridges to the east, the Salkantay range to the South and Machupicchu in the valley to the north. Hot drinks provided by Claudio and other porters on the ridge. We took a moment to soak in that moment and will try not to forget that peace. After breakfast we had a little ceremony to thank the porters for all their help. They all come from the same village and wear the same type of clothing. They will leave us after lunch and head back to their homes until the next trek, which may be in a few days, or in some cases, the next day. They have been invaluable and we are very appreciative! Hiked down to Winayhuayna (“forever young” named after an orchid of this name found around here), and visited this beautiful site after lunch. Unfortunately Yvonne's knee was acting up since the day before so she was moving slowly. Several people appreciated the slow pace though, myself included! Our guide Jairo wrapped her knee and Claudia carried her pack to lunch, and Piero helped her the rest of the way to the Sun Gate.The hike through the cloud forest was up and down until we approached the "gringo killers" climbing to the sun gate (Inti Punku). We rested at a small tambo (Incan “b&b”) first, then literally used all fours to climb the 50 steps of the "gringo killers" to reach the gate entrance overlooking Machu Picchu. The view in late afternoon of Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate was wonderful about 4pm. The tourists were gone and it was just us. Piero , Jairo and Darwin brought champagne and we toasted in little plastic dixie cups, after offering some first to Mother Earth, of course. Said goodbye to Jairo Bocangel and Darwin Mendoza, two of our guides. Will miss them.Bus ride to Aguas Caliente and a ..Hot shower!!! Then pisco sours!Bought a compact flash card to take more pictures, and then slept in a real bed!!