Yesterday we learned the stuff we were made of.
We put one step in front of another as we climbed to Dead Woman’s Pass at 14,000 feet. One step, two steps, three steps, stop and take a breath, and repeat. Oxygen is sparse at this elevation. Even our porters are huffing and puffing as they run pass us to get to the next checkpoint to set up the mess tent and cook us lunch. The Andean Porters are said to be some of the shortest people in the world but also have the largest lungs of any human beings, and they too, feel the shortage of oxygen at this elevation. For those of us that arrive to the pass first, we patiently wait for the entire group, promising not to move on until we are all gathered at the summit. We are a unit and no one is left behind. Once we all arrive we take a few brief moments to hug each other and take a group photo and move on.
Today we will walk for 8 hours. Tomorrow nine hours.
We will be out of radio frequency range for the next 24 hours and will check back in when we have arrived to the Gate of the Sun.