Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.

Machu Picchu – What A Spectacle (Part II of II)

I awoke early in the morning on Day 3, the cold mountain air filling my lungs. A friendly porter was quick to deliver warm cocoa tea to us as we packed our sleeping bags/pads and personal belongings. Then we hit the Inca Trail for the longest day yet, 16 kilometers.

Group ShotSun GateInca Subway

A steady uphill climb and we reached the circular ruins of Runkuracay where the fog slowly lifted from the depths of the Pacamayo valley below. The path beyond these ruins was particularly stunning with views over staggering cliffs. We enjoyed a warm lunch and a short siesta before embarking on a far easier stretch of the trail. The path hugs the mountain ridge within the cloudforest, full of brilliant orchids, meter thick moss, and tree ferns. We even passed through an “Inca subway” which was a cleverly carved tunnel into the rock. One last climb and we reached an impressive vista offering views of snow-capped Mount Salkantay. A few hours later, we reached the final camp after maneuvering hundreds of steep steps. A hot shower ($1.50) and a cold beer ($4.00) awaited us. I was able to speak briefly with Ash and was anxious to meet her at Machu Picchu the next day.

We indulged on plates of salty popcorn while waiting for Smitty and the Aussies to appear. Well past dark, Christina limped in donning a white bandage on her bloody forehead, a shredded right sleeve, and a red stained pant leg. The clasps on her boots became entwined and her momentum had taken her headfirst down the rocky steps of the Inca Trail. But Oz makes them tough – she had walked one more hour before two porters arrived to carry her to the camp. Myself and some fellow hikers indulged on a couple beers before saying our goodbyes to the helpful porters. Then off to sleep in anticipation of the Big Day!

High Above Machu PicchuWalking Stick Above MPMountain View

3:45am came fast. And all 200 sleep deprived hikers had an extra spring in their step on this morning. But that enthusiasm had to wait until the checkpoint opened at 5:30am. Then, like a pack of wolves, we all scurried for the famed Sun Gate – our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. The name is a misnomer, at least on this day. It should be called the Cloud Gate! We sat impatienly for over an hour as the fog suffocated any chance to witness the spectacle. We had had enough and descended into the cloud forest until the fog thinned and ruins took shape. And there it was: Machu Picchu!

Anxious to see Ash and check on her health myself, I went ahead of the group towards the main entrance. But my own battles with the food would delay our homecoming. Like an unstoppable rebel force, my stomach forced me to retreat to the forest surrounding Machu Picchu. Does a bear crap in the woods? Yes. Does Greg. You betcha ya. I entered the path once more with a group of Asian tourists staring strangely at me, so I motioned that I had been photographing butterflies.

Ash at Machu PicchuMP in BackgroundAriel Shot of MP

With that straightened out, I finally met up with Ash and thanked Hernan for taking great care of her. Low on energy and unable to eat, Ash was still able to see/touch/smell Machu Pichhu. We toured the impressive complex for 3+ hours – the temples, courtyards, terraced fields, and irrigation systems. A truly amazing sight. Well worth the rollercoaster ride!

Both worn out after four grueling days, Ash and I headed back to Cusco to get some sleep before departing the next day for Lake Titicaca, the birthplace of the Incas.

- Greg

  • belindaconnell

    Greg that would have to have been one of my highlights to see Machu Picchu, how they built that way back then is unbelievable. Did you go up to the Huayna Picchu, it is a granite peak that you have to walk the original Inca trail to get to it? I did think you were on your toes that morning to come up with the butterfly story, but those smart butterflies probably took flight quickly when they saw you coming!!
    Glad everyone is feeling much better now, look forward to Brazil adventures.

  • jeanrobson

    I'm really enjoying following the two of you on this fabulous, once in a lifetime adventure! Love your writing style and beautiful pictures. The Show, “Survivor” will be a walk in the park when you get back!

  • fofs

    Nina – call it weak or lazy, but I didn't have the energy to climb the
    600+ stairs of Huayna Picchu once we arrived. Though we saw a few
    people WAY up there looking down on Machu Picchu.

  • fofs

    Jean – Jacalu and I have been meaning to make an entry to “The Amazing
    Race” so I will tackle that first then “Survivor”!

    - Greg

  • fofs

    Nina – call it weak or lazy, but I didn't have the energy to climb the
    600+ stairs of Huayna Picchu once we arrived. Though we saw a few
    people WAY up there looking down on Machu Picchu.

  • fofs

    Jean – Jacalu and I have been meaning to make an entry to “The Amazing
    Race” so I will tackle that first then “Survivor”!

    - Greg

Powered by Wordpress | Designed by Elegant Themes