An extraordinary day on this mountain! This was another trip up to Machu Picchu, but this day we climbed the beautiful, majestic mountain that is so prominent in most of the pictures you see when looking at Machu Picchu. This will be a hike that pushes me outside of my comfort zone, literally to tears! But so worth it!
As mentioned in my Machu Picchu blog post, we hired Sam Travel Peru for our trek up the Inka Trail. I had mentioned to them that we also wanted to hike up Huayna Picchu (Wayna Picchu). They were able to get us tickets for the following day, along with roundtrip bus tickets from Aqua Calientes,( the beautiful town where you must get on the bus for ride up to Machu PIcchu).
It was so convenient to have our tickets all purchased in advance and not have to stand in any lines and be denied tickets, since they only allow 200 people per session on the mountain to hike. There are 2 sessions a day and we chose to go to the later morning session so we could have a little rest since we had the long hike up the Inka Trail the day before. Also so the clouds would burn off and we would have a better view of Machu Picchu.
We had stayed overnight in Aqua Calientes, which I believe is a MUST! A great town at the bottom of these beautiful mountains. You have no choice but to go through this town, so you might as well stay and enjoy it! We stayed at the very end of the town, so the noise from the train would not be so loud in a hotel by the title of Taypikala Boutique Machupicchu. Decent hotel, but be mindful when you get off the train, it is a steep hike to the hotel, especially carrying luggage. Well workth it since the town is very narrow and the train is right in the middle of town. Hotels line the main street where the train runs, so we chose to be a little further down the road from the train. That might be something you want to look into if you stay overnight.
There are so many restaurants and shopping, that could have kept us busy for a full couple of days. We took some time and went to the hot springs, which was located just above our hotel. When we got there it was not crowded and we were greeted by a server asking us if we would like to have a drink. By the time we got our drink, the pool had filled up with so many people, it was hard to navigate your way out of. But still worth the experience. After our hike on Machu Picchu, it was well deserved and relaxing, until it got crowded.
The next morning, we got up and ate breakfast at our hotel and then got on the 8 am bus to Machu Picchu for our second big hike! We were really excited for this trek after hearing from so many people how hard, yet exciting it is.
Once we got up to the top, we entered Machu Picchu again. We had time to walk around and take our time before we started the hike up Wayna Picchu, which was scheduled for 10 am. This was much more enjoyable today, knowing we had time to observe and take in the energy and beauty of this amazing wonder on our planet earth! We walked around the ruins in awe! We sat and watched the clouds roll out and away from the mountains, enjoyed the amazing energy the mountains were giving off, and had time to reflect on this amazing journey we were on! I must admit, this day was all about what I was taking in at the moment and not much reflection on my family. It was only after our hike and I reflect back on my day, when I have memories that flood my mind.
One specific memory is of my younger sister Carri. It is a memory with her that brings me the most joy and heartache. She was 21, pregnant, unmarried and dealing with the feelings she may have Hungtington’s. I had come back to Colorado to be with her for the delivery of her child. She was going to be giving the child up for adoption. I had no idea what was expected of me. She had a book called, “What to Expect when Expecting” and she wanted me to read the chapter on the delivery. Ugh… this was so far from anything I wanted to experience. I did not want to do this and was not prepared for my role in this endeavor of life, but she needed someone and I wanted to be there for her when she had to give up the baby.
She had a room at a hotel that was next to the hospital in Grand Junction, CO. We had been cooped up all day and I had been taking my part serious and had started reading the book. I needed her to have this baby before I left to go back home, since I had my plane ticket. If you tell a young naive 22 year old that the due date is April 8th, then I expected that was the day the baby would come, so I had a flight back to Minnesota for the ninth. I laugh when I think about how little I knew about having babies!
So, while reading this book, it made suggestions on things you could do to help start labor. Well, I could definitely help with one of them and that was to get out and walk. My dad had come by and wanted to go too, so against her own wants, I made her go up to Grand Mesa,(which is like a miniature Grand Canyon) and hike around with me and our dad. With my determination of her having this baby that day and needing to get exercise myself, we went. She was miserable the whole time and I remember laughing and telling her she could do this! She didn’t even have walking shoes on, just a pair of flats that had no grip! I can’t believe I made her do this in those shoes. But she was my younger sister and she did whatever I told her. On reflection, this brings a smile to my face, because we laughed about that day for many years. This is one of the great joys from that day and time in our lives. But the journey was only beginning! So when I think about my hike on Huayna Picchu that day, I can’t help but think about Carri fearing the worst on that hike I dragged her on. But I am not being dragged on this hike and am excited, yet a little scared. This mountain is steep, intimidating and will be challenging for me. I couldn’t wait!
START OF THE HIKE
We then went down to the entrance for Wayna Picchu and sat and waited for our turn for the hike. We were to start at 10am. As we sat and waited, we watched the EMS men run in with a stretcher! OMG! That was a little scary. We had no idea what was happening and feared it would delay our time going in. But, they were right on time with letting us in, even if the stretcher and EMS guys had not come back out. Believe me, I was waiting for them and watching!
They would open the gate and as you came through you were to sign a form, and show your tickets and passports. You were responsible for any injuries while on this mountain. After we went through the gate, we needed to hike down off our mountain and then onto Wayna Picchu.
As we were getting ready to go down a steep and winding path, we all had to lean in onto the mountain and make way for the stretcher and EMS men carrying a lady who had slipped and injured her ankle. Watching them take the corners at such steep angles with her on the stretcher made me think I would rather crawl out of there! But as she went by us she was in good spirits and was happy it was just her ankle. I said my little prayer to myself that we would make it up the steep mountain and back down without injury. On reflection, how Carri must have felt that day being 9 months pregnant, yelling at me for bringing her on this hike. What if something happened to her, or she went in labor and we are up on the top of this mountain. Youth will always make you believe that you are NOT going to be that person that it happens to! We got lucky up there that day, but it did bring on labor later in the evening. I was in awe and in love with that little boy. My heart ached that another family was going to be raising him and we wouldn’t even get to know him. My heart hurt for Carri, my dad, myself and this little boy. The story of my nephews birth and how he has been in our lives since the day he was born, is an amazing one and I will tell that in another post.
The hike took us about an hour and half, maybe a little longer since we stopped quite a bit on our way down to take pictures and absorb all that we were seeing and doing. The trek up was crazy, difficult, scary and exhilarating. There were even times I thought I would just stop and wait for Todd to come back down. Some of the climbing stairs felt like I was on a ladder(which is just rock steps at a steep incline) that was too steep and I was going to fall backwards. Having someone at my feet and someone just above me made me feel pressure to hurry and it scared me. At one point while grabbing the stone above my head to make the next step up, the stone slid a bit and freaked me out! I had to get off the trail and calm down a bit. My eyes were starting to tear up from fear, and I needed to take a few minutes and let everyone pass me on the trail, then jump back on. There was so many steep areas to climb on rocks, that they had a steel rope hanging on the sides of the rocks to grab onto. I knew I could finish this.
When we reached the top, we celebrated, high five’d and took in the view. AMAZING! We did it. We spent a while at the top and then started the decent down. You have to go through some rock tunnels and then around the other side of the mountain which will then swing around to the trail you climbed up on. At this point everyone in our group should be past this point and they rope off the trail to go back up. Going down was much easier then I had expected. The only challenge I remember was getting off the Huayna mountain and having to go back up on the trail to Machu Picchu and my legs did not want to hike up any longer. They were shaking and tired. I remember stopping as we were going up a steep incline, thinking I just can’t take the pain much longer. Two days of strenuous hiking was more then I had every done in my life.
If you go and want to do these hikes, get yourself in shape. We had trained four to six days a week, for six months, going up and down all the hills and stairways in our town. I did not carry a backpack with weights, but Todd did and it seemed to have helped him. Carrying the backpack was something that I was not used to and found it heavy and uncomfortable. I mentioned many times how thankful I was that we trained for the past six month, yet I was still exhausted.
Wow, all that planning and now we are done! We needed to take a little time and reflect on our trip when we got to the bottom of the hike. We walked into the hotel that was on the property, Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, and celebrated with a couple beers and snacks! This is a stunning 5 star hotel right up at the Machu Picchu entrance. Going in all sweaty after our climb was a little unnerving, being so swanky, but they sat us at a little vignette of relaxing modern chairs and coffee tables, then gave us amazing service! It was the perfect way to end our day on the mountain.