|Dead Woman's Pass Ascent|
I didn't sleep very well, it wasn't cold with the thermal sleeping bag and liner but the mattress was quite hard and of course I'm just not used sleeping in a tent. Can you believe this is the first time ever I slept in a tent? Yeah there was no other option ... there are no nice Spa resorts on the Inca Trail, not even a basic hostel :) Oh well this is all part of the adventure and I still prefer this tent above the refuge at Mount Toubkal Base Camp where I had to share my room with 25 other people. I'm finally about to fall a sleep when I hear Paul, our guide, shout "Good morning", "Good morning, wake up. We have a big day ahead of us". Indeed, today we will attempt to cross Dead Woman's Pass at an altitude of 4200 meters. The 1st day of the Inca Trail turned out to be surprisingly easy for me, I wonder how today will work out ...
It is 5.15 am when we get a bowl of warm water per person to wash our face and brush our teeth. I use my dry shampoo and special washing gloves with soap for which you do not need any water (like the ones you use for babies) and although I smell like a baby, I feel a lot better. The breakfast is excellent, I'm not a big fan of porridge but I love the omelet and pancakes with jam. Besides coffee and hot chocolate, there is also coca thee which helps against altitude sickness.
At 6.15 am, about 20 minutes later than planned, we are ready to start day 2 of the Inca Trail. I'm a bit nervous because we will attempt a quite steep climb today. Depending on your fitness level and pace, it can take anywhere between 4 to 8 hours to reach Dead Woman's Pass.
We follow a steep path, the more we go up the more the vegetation increases till we are walking in the beautiful fairy tale like Andean Forest. I'm again really enjoying this hike and the amazing landscapes. We saw quite some people turning around yesterday and even today we still see people turning around either because they suffer of altitude sickness or because the trail is harder than they expected. I wonder whether they will still make it back to the starting point today.
|Inca Trail to Dead Woman's Pass|
We try to stay together as a group but it is becoming more and more difficult as everybody has a different pace. When you do an ascent like this, it is very important that you walk your own pace. If you try to keep up with the group or if you have to stand still every other minute to wait for the rest of the group, it becomes really exhausting. So we decide to split up, I continue climbing - very slowly with little steps - without stopping to much. This works perfect for me and without any issue we reach the agreed waiting spot, about half an hour later the rest of our group arrives as well.
It is to difficult to prepare a hot lunch at this height, so we get a second breakfast and will have a late lunch when we arrive at the camp site. The porters prepared a delicious sandwich for us, knackered and hungry we all agree that this is the best sandwich we had so far in our life.
|View Point on the Inca Trail to Dead Woman's Pass|
After another cup of coca thee, we are ready to continue the ascent. Again we decide to split up and to let everybody hike at their own pace. Even when I'm only taking little steps and taking it slowly, I pass many people. There are many beautiful viewpoints along the way from where you can enjoy stunning views on the valley, every time I turn around and see the trail running I already ascended, I think WoW :)
We are very lucky with the weather, it is a beautiful day without any rain and the sun is nice enough to stay behind the clouds most of the time. This really helps cause I think it would be much harder having to climb so steep in bright sunshine. Once we leave the forest, the trail becomes even steeper. There are lots of steps some very high, some very low and it seems like we have to climb these steps forever. The entire way, I could not get this song "Climb every mountain" from the Sound of Music movie out of my head.
Quicker than expected, we reach the top of Dead Woman's Pass or Warmiwanusca. It is quite cold on the top and there is lots of wind but we do not care. We are so happy that we made it and enjoy the splendid views over the Vilcanota and Vilcabamba mountains for about 20 minutes.
I thought the descent would be really easy ... I was so wrong ... the trail down into the Pacaymayo Valley is very steep and also has lots of steps, some of these steps are so high that I have to jump but it is without any doubt a beautiful trail with wonderful views. On the way down I meet a girl sitting in the middle of the trail, her knees are terribly hurting. Unfortunately there is no turning back anymore from this point, no other option than to keep going.
|Pacaymayo Camp Site|
We arrive at our camp site for the night at an altitude of 3800 meters and again the porters - who are a bit surprised to see us arrive without the guide and the rest of the group - already put up the tents. It is just incredible how quick they ascent carrying so much stuff, respect! As we are only going to have late lunch once the rest of the group arrives, I decide to take a nap next to my tent.
A couple of hours later the guide and the rest of the group arrives. Everybody is exhausted but also really happy, our group consists for the majority out of woman but for sure strong woman cause we all made it! It is quite funny to have lunch at 4.00 pm, tea at 5.00 pm and dinner at 6:00 pm but we really enjoy all the food and tell each other that we need all this extra energy after today's achievement.
The only negative part is that they put up our tents right in front of the only Turkish toilets on the entire camp site. Once more and more groups came in, the smell became unbearable. Our porters were so nice to clean one of the toilets so we could all use it but it was definitely not a good idea to breath through your nose when sitting in front of your tent.
I guess you get used to everything after a while, cause after dinner I did sit in front of my tent and looked at the stars again. The sky full of stars was incredible yesterday but now it was just unbelievable, there were even more stars and they all seemed so close by, I could even see the Milky Way. So amazing. It was an exhausting day and although the climb was very hard I did not have to much difficulties, so I'm quite proud of myself and look already forward to Day 3 of the Inca Trail also known as the most beautiful but longest day.
Freya - Holiday Nomad, a Travel and Photo Blog.