Waking up on the morning of the third day was tough. I hadn’t slept most of the night and was grumpy. Oh well. At least today was the easy day of hiking! I had that to look forward to. I was a quick downhill hiker. And, it had luckily stopped raining.
We all ate breakfast and headed out as a group. I felt confident about todays hike. It was going to be an easy day. All downhill. Until, we started going up…and up….and up…stair after stair. I then overheard one of the group members stating that todays hike starts with two hours straight of steep stairs.
Are you kidding me?!
After about 45 minutes, I started to lag behind the group – noticeably. I was further behind than any other time during the hike. I couldn’t do this. I was so tired from not having slept and I built myself up thinking today’s hike was going to be easy, yet here I was trying to push myself to get through two hours of stairs. Gina saw that I was extremely behind and came back to hike with me. I was so out of breath due to the altitude and every muscle hurt with every step. She looked at me and said “Jess, are you OK?”. Well – that was it. The waterworks came full force! I began crying, saying how I didn’t think I could do this and that I was so tired. Gina was a sweetheart and took me to the upcoming resting spot at a ruin where the rest of the group was. She discretely hid me so that no-one else would see me crying. She piled me up with chocolate, electrolytes and candy to get my sugars back up. At this point, Pedro noticed me crying and had asked what was wrong. He offered to carry my pack for me until I was feeling stronger. I was reluctant. For some reason I felt that if he took my pack for me, I failed in some way. Gina cleared this thought process for me by saying in her UK accent “Jess! Don’t be stupid! Let him take the damn bag!”. I laughed and handed the pack over to Pedro. After the break, we continued up stairs. I felt much stronger and lighter without my pack.
One of the memorable points of the third day hike, was being high up in the mountains and seeing the same river we crossed at the beginning of our journey, the Urubamba River, flowing below us. We began our decent shortly after this view.
I remember there being many ruins along this days hike – for one of them, the only way to get to it was (guess!), by stairs. At first I was going to stay at the bottom with Fletcher. What was one more ruin anyways? Then I decided to stop being ridiculous and climb the stairs. The stairs were so narrow and steep that you needed to climb them like a ladder. Once I got to the top, I was glad I pushed myself. It was one of the more beautiful ruins we had seen. Once Pedro gave us a brief history of the ruins, we were given about half an hour to explore.
I should note, that Fletcher had been given panpipes by Matt to irritate Iain. Fletcher took a strong liking to them. For most of the day, he had been unsuccessfully trying to play a song and had been essentially replaying the same four notes for hours on end. It did not bother me at all. Iain had other feelings. During our exploration of the ruin, Fletcher could be heard playing his panpipes in the background.
We continued our decent into another form of rainforest, only it was also part desert. This was one of the most beautiful sections of the trail. I was behind the group and Pedro and Fletcher were resting minutes behind me. I took the opportunity to sit on a rock off the trail and just close my eyes. I was so tired. The silence was something I embraced and welcomed. Pedro and Fletcher passed me shortly after, instructing me to continue hiking. At this point, I stopped pushing myself. I hiked at a slow pace and enjoyed it. I was at the back anyways, so it did not matter how far back I was. I started to wholeheartedly experience the phrase “one foot in front of the other”. That is what I simply did. I didn’t think about how tired I was, or how sore, or how much further I had to go. During this part of the hike – I was hiking in the moment.
Photos of the moss and plants found along this section of the hike.
It was also during this section of the hike that we experienced walking through caves created by the Inca peoples. The caves were dark and slippery due to the rain the night before.
Our last stop of the day, was another ruin. Pedro gave the group the option to split up at this point. Those who wanted to see the ruin, would join him. Others could head to camp. Despite the group being exhausted, we all chose to see the ruin. It turned out to be one of my favourite memories. The ruin was even larger than the one prior, and had a beautiful cliff beside it. After walking around the ruin and climbing and descending dozens more stairs, we all took photos by the cliff, laughed and enjoying each others company before heading to camp for the night.
That evening, Pedro asked the group to decide who would be thanking the Porters for their services on behalf of the group. It would be our last night with the Porters and it would be our opportunity to pay our tips. G Adventures, as well as Pedro, had explained to us early on to set aside apx. 200 soles each to pay to the Porters for their hard work during our travels. The group had chosen me to give our gift of tips and say Thank You to the Porters.
What the group was unaware of, was my experience with public speaking back home. Therefore, I took the task very seriously. I was to give the Thank You in about an hour. I scrambled to my tent, turned on my headlamp and wrote out a short speech in Spanish as best I could. I then gave it to Pedro to look over and correct.
When the time came, I gave my speech and gave the tips to the Porters. Below, is the speech in both Spanish and English.
Seniores, Porters y chefs,
Lo Siento si me español es no muy bueno, pero yo quiero hablo en español a vosotros.Nosotros queremos hablar gracias para todas los servicios recividos.El trabajo de vosotros hizo las vacaciones de nosotros muy excelente.La aqua en la mañana, la comida deliciosas y las palmas para nosotros al finar del día de caminan. Muchas gracias por todas.
Yo, personalmente y mis amigos también, entendemos el trabajo defici ahora. Porque nosotros medimos el trabajo de vosotros.
Ninguna cantidad di dinero, puede pagar para el servicio que nosotros recibimos. Pero queremos decir gracias a vosotros.
Gracias por todo y deseamos lo mejor a ustedes .Buenos Notches y mucho gusto en conocerlos.
Sirs, Porters and Chefs,
I am sorry that my Spanish is not very good, but I wanted to speak in Spanish to you all. We wanted to say Thank You for all the services we have received. The work of you all, made our vacation excellent. The water in the morning, the delicious food and the clapping when we finished our days walk. Thank you very much for everything.
I personally, and my friends as well, understand hard work now. Because we saw the work of you all.
No amount of money can pay for the service we received. But, we wanted to say Thank You to you all.
Thank You for everything and we wish you the best. Good Night and it was a pleasure getting to know you all.
The night ended with Matt and Iain drunk off hot totty and having the strangest of conversations in their tent. This led to Emmie and I laughing hysterically beside them until late in the night. If I remember correctly, I believe I remember Matt and I singing songs from The Sound of Music. Eventually, we fell asleep.