Day 5, Inca Trek
We arrived at the Gate of the Sun shortly after sunrise and descended down the mountain to our destination of Machu Picchu.
We were all up early today to do the very thing that we have planned and trained for over the course of the last six months. We divided into two groups. Those of us that will hike the Inca Trail and those that will climb to the Sky Lodge.
Our trek group totals twelve. We were met early at the trail head by the twenty-one porters, two cooks and three guides that will support our trek up the mountain. Each of us has been limited to twelve pounds of gear that will go up the mountain on the backs of the porters. This includes our toiletries, sleeping bags and change of clothes.
In addition to our personal gear the porters will carry enough tents, sleeping pads, propane tanks for cooking our meals, pots and pans, and a four-day food and water supply. Our meals with be plant and protein based and our first night on the mountain our chef will prepare freshly caught trout from the cold water mountain streams of the area. Tomorrow breakfast will be omelettes and pancakes. We have been told from previous trek groups that the meals are amazing on the mountain.
Rony reminds us that our only job is to get up the mountain. Everything else will be done by the support crew. They will carry our gear, pitch our tents cook our meals.
We were greeted by a gentle breeze and sunny skies as we checked in at the trail head on the east side of the raging Urubamba River. The forecast says that the temperature will rise to 76 degrees Fahrenheit today and the extended four-day forecast calls for no rain, ideal weather conditions for the Inca Trail
The guard post at the trail head is similar to a border crossing. No one gets access to the trail with out their passport in-hand and their official government issued Inca permit. Once we clear the check point, one or two at a time, we cross the suspended bridge above the river that blows side to side due to the winds blowing though the canyon that has been carved out of the rocks by the white water of the Urubamba. Its like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.
We are feeling many different emotions; apprehension, gratefulness, excitement. We had parted ways with Kim and KrissAnn a day earlier and we asked if Rony would call them before we go on. He puts Kim on the speaker phone and she reminds us that as we walk the trail “to turn around and look at where we have come from. She tells us the view will be different then the view going up the mountain and that like in life, the view looking back is different and we will feel the win of our accomplishments.”
We will trek eight miles today parallel to the river. We begin at an altitude of 7000 feet. Today will be the easiest of the four days and tomorrow the most difficult with a climb to Dead Woman’s pass at 14,000 feet. Tomorrow the ascent is steep and the winds that blow through the mountain pass increase the trek’s difficulty, but that is tomorrow.