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Inca Trail - Day Two

Aguas Calientes, Peru


STAIR-MASTER-5000

We are awakened by our guide who gives us tea to enjoy in our tents, but we then have to quickly pack up before breakfast and we hear what´s ahead of us for the day. Not one, but two passes, both above 4000m elevation!

The sun is shining this morning and we head to Abra Warmiwañuska, better known to gringos as ¨Dead Woman´s Pass¨. I´m reminded of Tolkien´s description of the path from Minas Morgal to Mordor, where all you can see are stairs carved in the side of a steep mountain that disappear into the mist.

A very long morning later everyone is still in good spirits as we reach the high point at this pass. At 4200m (13800ft) we take time to catch our breath and head down to the campsite below at 3600m for lunch and a brief siesta.

Our siesta is cut short as the heavens open up once again and we get ready for the second pass. Part way up we check out the ruins at Runkuraqay and continue up the endless staircase until we finally hit the other pass at a mere 4000m (13100ft) elevation followed by a steep down-climb.

Just before approachig our camp site we check out the ruins at Sayaqmarka. Just before we´re ready to leave we hear the warning ¨There´s a bear coming your way!¨ I couldn´t understand what the joke was, but looking over at the 24-inch wide staircase that leads to the ruin was a 5-ft 300lb bear!

This being the only way out of the ruin you´d think the logical thing to do was hide, but curiosity took over and the foolhearty crew (myself included) ran towards the staircase to get a decent picture of the bear. Unfortunately my pictures did not turn out, but more importantly the bear decided not to engage us and shot up a tree and over the hill beside the ruin.

Back at camp everyone was relieved the toughest day was over and enjoyed another great dinner and compared bear photos. In the end we completed another 16km on the trail. The rest would all be downhill. Later, most of the campers agreed this was the best day on the trail despite the strenuous hike.

permalink written by  paco on October 26, 2009 from Aguas Calientes, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
tagged Peru and IncaTrail

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