|Sacsayhuaman, Cusco, Peru|
|Smitty at Sacsayhuaman|
I had been concerned by my uphill slog at the ziplining and the walk on the Isla del Sol, and was veering towards not trekking, but was gradually persuaded by others that I could do it after all, so I said yes. I think what swung it for me was that I thought I would regret not trying more than if I tried and failed.
|Sacsayhuaman, Cusco, Peru|
|Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru|
|Terraces of Pisac, Peru|
From there we drove on past the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which is the fertile valley around the river, and on Pisac, with it's huge terraces cut into the hillsides, where the incas would grow a huge variety of vegetables including hundreds of varieties of potato.
Then after lunch we drove into the valley to start the trek. By this time, seeing the mountains in front of me, I was seriously starting to wonder whether I was doing the right thing, especially as it had started to rain, but we left our dufflebags with the porters and mules and set off.
|Halfway up on the first trek day|
So on we went. Up hill to varying degrees of steepness almost constantly, over some decidedly difficult terrain. I can tell you I was very grateful to have walking poles (thanks again to The Girls for those) but even so I had to stop regularly to recover my breath. The photo is about halfway up and you can see the valley where we started from way down below.
Three hours in, and quite knackered, we had done the worst of today's route, but I was some way behind the others and the guide had realised that I wasn't going to make it to the camp before it got dark. So he put me on a mule for the rest of the journey.
|Our campsite on the trek|
But while I had an easy last section back, poor Nic didn't. Because he had walked with me, he had to cover the last bit extra fast to catch up and get back before it was dark. He managed it but he was knackered by the end.
So we arrived at the first camp, which was in a lovely setting, although disappointingly we had no interraction with the local community who we were staying with. In the photo of the campsite you can see the mountain we would be going up the next day.
The good thing about these treks though is that all you have to do (all!!) is walk with your daypack, the porters do everything else for you. They put up and take down your tents and cook the meals. And they do a really excellent job. They made us a three course meal using just a portable gas ring. And in the morning they brought us tea or coffee and hot water for washing.
|llamas and mules for the trek|
But however easy they make the practicalities, you still have to be able to manage the walk in the daylight. And knowing that the walk on day two was so much harder than day one I was seriously worried about the uphills. I didn't want to have to rely on using the mule, partly because it doesn't really feel like I have achieved it if I get on the mule, and partly because other people might need it.
I also knew that if I was going to get on the mule, then there was no way that Nic could walk with me this time, so I would be walking on my own which would be a bit dull too. But the final straw was that the guide told me that he was concerned about my being able to do the steep downhills on day two. He felt that they were too steep and slippery for my knees to cope with properly.
So I figured that if I was worried about the uphills, the guide was worried about the downhills, I didn't want to have to rely on the mule, and I wouldn't enjoy walking on my own, then really it wasn't sensible to carry on. So I arranged with the guide that I would go back the way I had come the next day, rather than carrying on forward. Nic decided he would come back too.
|more relaxed on the way down|
So after a good meal and a cold night in the tent - thankfully OK due to plenty of advanced wrapping up well - we set off back down the hill. We left slightly after the others, but just as we did, one other person from the group started making their way back down the track, having decided to join us. So the three of us took a rather easier four hour journey back to the main road where we picked up an local minibus to the nearest main town and then a cab back to Cusco. By the time the others would have been staggering into their campsite, we were back in Cusco enjoying a hot shower and an afternoon nap! And the others confirmed afterwards that it had been a really hard walk that day, so I have no doubt that I did the right thing in going back.