June 19, 2008
The Easy Day
Well, today was billed as the “easy” day, and I guess if you think that going down 2,400 feet in three miles is easy, then it was! I, on the other hand, struggled mightely. But, as I stepped down the 1,000 steps that was promised in the brochure, I just said my mantra over and over, “I know I can…I know I can”. And I thought of all the friends and family that helped make this day a reality and just kept stepping down.
The thing is, these are not normal steps…..they are big, giant rocks. Sometimes the step down in 10″ and sometimes it is 2.5 feet. Sometime the step is flat when other times they slant every which of a way! And in one particular case, the stairs are all cut out of one giant rock so that the steps just float down like a curl of ribbon. Pretty to look like, but hard to manuever. On legs that are totally shot, these are brutal. Every few steps, one or the other of my knees just buckles. It is a result of complete quad fatigue and it make for some very interesting descending!!
However, to make up for all of the difficulty, the Incan Trail has rolled out a spectacular day for us! The trail winds through tunnels and down into the rain forest. There is an alarming drop off on one side of the trail, and bamboo is growing up from a seemingly endless bottom. There are tiny hanging flowers, dark green moss and hundred different bird songs. The sun is bright and intense, but the breeze feels like it just rolled over a glacier, which it so happens is the next mountain range over.
Every so often, we have to pull over to the side of the trail to let the porters come running by. These guys are amazing! They are small in stature, carry huge loads, and run down the rocky trail with unbelievable ease. They wear sandals made of pieces of tires, and I never saw them hesitate once as they jumped from rock to rock. Most of them greet us with a friendly “Hola”, and some shoot me a thumbs up. Yesterday, Enrique told me that the porters were talking about how well I was doing and how strong I was. That made me feel so great! To earn the respect of these guys feels pretty cool! Both Enrique and Hosea have told me over and over how impressed they are with me and so I finally asked Enrique why. He said it was because of my weight. When I asked him if overweight people ever did the Incan Trail, he said, “No, never”. Then he ammended his answer to say that sometime they tried but that when they got to Dead Woman’s Pass, they turned around and went back.
I find that crazy!! If I can do it, anybody can! So far, it has been the most grueling thing I have ever done, but it certainly wasn’t undoable!!
This “easy” day came to an end with an hour long walk down sandy switchbacks. Lizards scurried away from me as I jumped, (well, stepped gingerly), down more steps. When I arrived at camp, I was shocked to find tons of people! There was an old hostel, complete with rock and roll and a store that sells beer and soft drinks! Everyone on the trail is gathered here to complete our hike down to Macchu Picchu, and here, in the middle of nowhere, there is a serious party going on! Of course, it was the earliest ending party ever, cause we all had to get up at 4 am, but it was still really festive and fun! I am really tired and sore, but so, so happy to be here.
Tomorrow is a big day, so off to bed I go!!
Anna aka Mud Butt