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Macchu Picchu

Updated: Jan 11

A few months after we started dating my husband (boyfriend then) and I started talking about how we both had a dream to one day hike the ancient Inca trail to Macchu Picchu in Peru. It was just idle talk for fun at first, but as our commitment to our relationship developed the determination to make the trip together also grew. It took us a few years to save the money and make the arrangements (you have to book 9 months to a year in advance to get on the trail) but this month that dream finally became a reality. We did it!! We're shown above with our guide and group after 4 days of hiking, 3 days camping, just as we are entering the city. We're all exhausted and sunburned, but happy. There are a few "take away" lessons I learned from this adventure that I would like to share with you.

1) It is through effort and overcoming difficulties that great things come to pass. I've been on some amazing hikes in my lifetime. I've climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and trekked the Grand Canyon rim to rim in one day. This hike was overall the hardest physical thing I have ever done though, besides maybe childbirth. It was a brutal series of uphill climbs followed by steep downhill sections that were tough on the legs. The path was very rocky so our feet got sore. Sleeping on the hard ground. No showers. Less than ideal bathroom facilities (I'll spare you the gory details, but it wasn't pretty.) I discovered that I am a bit scared of heights on near vertical stairways with uneven steps, where slipping could mean falling off the edge of a cliff. Who knew? The most difficult challenge we faced by far, however, was the altitude. At the highest point coming over Dead Woman's Pass we reached nearly 13,800 ft. above sea level. At that height the air was much thinner than we were accustomed to, and we all found ourselves extremely short of breath. Every 20 or 30 steps we'd have to stop and take some deep breaths, before starting again. Some in the group were pretty sick. Thankfully I didn't really get the headache or throw up, but I was pretty slow and weak during portions of the trail. It was by sheer force of will at points that I kept my body moving forward and upward. People have asked me since the trip if I had fun. That's an interesting question. "Fun" is not really the adjective that describes this experience. It's hard. Uncomfortable. Sometimes too cold. Sometimes overly hot. Dirty. Sweaty. Smelly. Did I mention really hard? So why did I do it, and why would I highly recommend it to others? Because it was incredible. Spiritually uplifting. Life changing. The Andes mountains are among the most beautiful in the world. Everywhere we looked there was a breathtaking view, virtually untouched by modern intervention. Not a skyscraper in sight. We travelled through remote Incan ruins that most people never get to see. Learned about a fascinating culture in an intimate way by literally walking in their footsteps. Connected to the divine in nature by unplugging and getting away from computers and the demands of daily living. We pushed our bodies to the limits, and we overcame. There's an immense sense of personal satisfaction in that. We made friends with some wonderful people from around the world who shared the experience with us. To have all of that we had to take on the difficulties that came along with it. But it was so worth it and then some. 

2) You are not alone. Sure you CAN face life's trials and tribulations without accepting any help from others. But why would you? On the Inca trail we had the support of two fantastic guides who told us stories along the way, and motivated us when we were wearing out. We had a cook preparing meals that rivaled fine restaurants, that he somehow miraculously whipped up in the woods without a proper kitchen. I am still in awe over the cake with the gelatin layer on top. How??? We were definitely well fed. We also had porters who were making the same hike along with us, but loaded up with all of the tents, food, tables and most of our belongings so we only had to carry day packs. They were absolutely invaluable. I know I couldn't have done it without them. They have my deepest respect. On many occasions when I was huffing and puffing and thinking I was dying along the trail, they would literally go running past, wearing flip flops and carrying packs that were bigger than they were in some instances. It was a little bit humiliating to see how easy it was for them comparitively, but yet I was so very thankful for their assistance and positive energy. I never heard a single one complain. Not even once. 

3) We hiked down the trail directly into Macchu Picchu at sunrise. When we arrived there were many other people there that had come up the mountain by bus. We spent the day touring around the ruins of the city and learning about the way life had been when the Incas lived there. Their religion. Their family life. It was all interesting information, and I think everyone who visited that day was enriched. But for the few that had made the hike to get there, taking the same path that would have been taken on foot hundreds of years ago by the Incas themselves, I think the arrival into the city had more meaning. We felt connected to them. We knew how they felt when they caught the first glimpse of the mountain and knew they were almost there. We saw the views they saw. We felt their pain and their joy. Their civilization had come alive in us in a way it never could have if we hadn't made the trek. Percy our guide said it best. As we stood looking down on the city we had worked so hard to come and see he reminded us that Macchu Picchu was just the destination. It was the journey that was everything. And it was. Thank you Peru for the memories. 

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