Sure I’d go hiking with friends from time to time, but it was never Machu Picchu levels. There were no camping involved and did not take days to finish. I don’t know if it was sheer ignorance or arrogance on my part, but I never really thought I’d ever have any problems or accidents while doing the Inca Trail. I’ve always been the type that would do things first, then worry or deal with the consequences later. So Day 1 of Inca Trail, something did happen. Three hours on the trek (which was supposed to be the easiest), I lost my footing and slipped and twisted my ankle. I blame the walking sticks (just because I didn’t know how to use them properly). The first thing I said to our tour leader was, ‘Please don’t send me home’. Anyway, they put a bandage around my right ankle and gave me ibuprofen tablets and continued the trek but with one of the tour guides walking slowly/closely with me. To add insult to (my) injury, it rained. It effing rained. I was cold and limping and in pain. Thank goodness I bought wet proof hiking boots.
Not my most glamorous outfit but have always wanted to rock a yellow plastic trench coat yay!
I managed to finish day 1 but when I finally took my shoes off, my right foot looked really bad. Our tour guides advised me to decide the following morning if I want to continue the trek or not. It was the first time i’ve ever hurt myself like that so I was seriously worried. The worst part was I could not inform my parents because we had no signal up in the mountains and I didn’t want to tell them anyway. I was also worried that I will never be able to wear high heels again. Girl problems. My option was to continue and risk aggravating my foot, or go back while I still can. I was lucky that one of the girls in my group Joan, is a nurse, and she gave me a much stronger painkiller and basically gave me the lowdown on what’s ahead since it’s her third time doing the Inca trail. She said that Day 2 of the Inca trail is the hardest (all uphill) and if something happens I would need to be carried by a porter because there won’t be any mules or donkeys for me to hire since we’re like way up the mountains already, my other option is to rent a mule first thing in the morning and go back to Ollaytantambo, rest for one day, then take the train to Machu Picchu and join my group on the last day. Joan said that I’d at least get to have a shower and look fresh when I reach Machu Picchu, if I decide the latter route. (But, but, but…). Anyway, they all said that I should decide the following day and just call it a day, sleep and rest, but I was too distraught. I was crying to one of the tour guides that was looking after me, not because of the pain, but the thought that I was gonna miss out on the trek and cheat my way to Machu Picchu. I basically cried myself to sleep that night, almost resigned to the idea that I will be going back in the morning but when I woke up the following day, my foot was not as sore and the swellings gone down and in my true rebel self, decided to continue all the way. It was borderline fearless/brave and stupid/crazy decision, but I’m so glad I did because it was one of the most AMAZEBALL trek ever.
Everytime I get tired and feel like my foot is going to give up on me, I just turn around and look at the amazing view behind me and tell myself, ‘look how far you’ve come?’ and then I’m okay again.
It was definitely a personal victory for me to conquer Dead Woman’s Pass at 13,776 feet above sea level with a twisted ankle. It was super challenging especially with the high altitude and uneven steps which were also very steep. It took me forever to reach it but it felt so good and rewarding when I finally did. I probably will never do this trail again but ya never know. I was greeted by our adorable G Adventure porters when I reached Dead Woman’s Pass. These hardworking guys are so inspiring. They carry 30 kilos on their back up the mountain to our campsites everyday in a short period of time and not even wearing the right shoes. They are the nicest people and always have a smile on their faces. I only carry 5 kilos backpack and I feel like am dying. Because I was injured, I had more time and opportunity to get to know them. That was my silver lining. Normally it takes around 6-8 hours to do Day 2, but because of my injury, it took me 11 hours to reach our campsite. I usually get a big round of applause from my group and the porters as well when they finally see me hahaha. Because I was such a slow-mo, I had to start my trek an hour earlier before my group to get a head start (didn’t help anyway), but it also meant that I was on my feet the whole day. No rest for the wicked. Oh and excuse my crazy unruly natural hair. In fairness though, they’re much neater when it’s in colder area, in the tropics, it goes really big and wild. You know how when you we’re little, you were told that Santa was real and he was not? Well they said that Day 3 of Inca Trail was going to be a breeze and it was a big FAT LIE. I thought that it was just as hard (if not harder than Day 2) but I have to say it was definitely more scenic. We visited more Inca Site Ruins and we passed through some parts of the Amazon Jungle. Mosquito repellents we’re the spray of choice.
Sayaqmarka (Inca Ruins)
I missed one Inca Site though because I had to go use a short cut to reach the campsite around the same time as my group and had one of the assistant Chefs to come with me (by day 3, our group had more accidents that we were literally running out of Tour Guides to look after everyone). Our Tour CEO was concerned that if I don’t finish early, it would be very hard and dangerous to navigate in the dark. Normally I would be like, ‘but I don’t want to miss one Inca Site like a biatch’ but after what I’ve gone through, missing one Inca Site was not such a big deal anymore. I was just so grateful to be there, to still be walking and breathing in spite of.
My little yellow tent 🙂
But can’t complain when you get this bad ass view as backdrop.
Getting to know our wonderful G Adventures porters. Adore them.
We had the best chef in the tour, how he was able to make a cake without an oven beats me.
And Day 4 of the Inca Trail finally came. We all had to wake up early, as in 3AM kind of early on the day to make sure that our group will be first to reach the Sun Gate. By 5.30AM there was a long line of other groups from other tours already all wanting to get clearance to go ahead. Our group I believe was the second group to get the clearance so waking up that early paid off. Passport in hand, I was super ready. Although my walking pace was much better (I ditched the walking sticks) I was still pretty slow. It didn’t take that long before I lost my group, I think I walked pretty much on my own for a few hours but with each step I was getting more and more excited. I was getting closer and closer to seeing Machu Picchu and I had to stop every now and then not only to rest or to catch my breath, but also to stop myself from hyperventilating from too much excitement.
The happiness I felt when I re-joined my group at the Sun Gate, and my first glimpse of Machu Picchu.
The pose that stopped traffic. Thankful to the tourist that stopped other tourists behind him from passing through while I was having this photo taken
My group had a few calamities on the trek but what’s important was we all made it to Machu Picchu in one piece. Machu Picchu was breathtaking for sure but as cliche as this may sound, it was the journey and the people that made it extraspecial.
Celebrated conquering Machu Picchu with a big cup of coke and Doritos.
Another day, another stamp, done.
No electricity, no shower, no makeup, no internet, no clean toilet, no comfy bed and no high heels for 4 straight days… How did I survive? I have to say that hiking with a twisted ankle was definitely one of the toughest, hardest and roughest thing I’ve ever done. Most of the time it was adrenalin rush that’s getting me through, but it was definitely worth it, eyebags, and all.
Thank you Machu Picchu for one hell of an experience I will never forget.
Much love, Geri