Day 7 in Peru — Into the Arms of Pachamama

The Bridge to Insanity -- the beginning of the Inca Trail.

The Bridge to Insanity — the beginning of the Inca Trail.

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. — Mother Teresa

Today is the day we start our trek to Machu Picchu!  This is the main reason why I came to Peru — To challenge myself to brave the physical challenge of the Inca Trail and climb the steps of a world renowned UNESCO World Heritage site.  Hopefully all those Spartan races I ran this year prepared me for this trek!  If not . . . well, let’s just say that not completing the trail would be devastating.  I didn’t come all this way to quit.

With G Adventures, the tour company I used on this trip and last year’s Costa Rica trip, you are given two trail options to Machu Picchu — Inca Trail and Laras Trail.  Inca Trail is four days and Laras Trail is three days.  With Inca Trail (the most popular by far) has travellers climbing to Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point on the trail (4215 m above sea level), before walking up to the Sun Gate.  On Laras Trail travellers climb to a height of 4800 m above sea level, after which they are bussed back to a hotel where they spend the night, prior to taking a train the next morning to Machu Picchu.  If you know me like you know me, Inca Trail was the obvious choice 🙂

So my team was split up and a few of us joined a new team.  This time we were all from different places — UK, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands!  Love teaming up with people from other countries!  After our 45 minute bus ride (on a bus that had no business being on the narrow roads!) to the trailhead yours truly and my new team gathered our gear and took a team picture . . . right after we avoided a train!  AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

My Badass Inca Trail Team!

My Badass Inca Trail Team!

This trail is beautiful!  The sights are amazing!  Experienceing new challenges with new people around new surroundings with the prospect of death all around us are what I call my ingredients to an ADVENTURE 🙂  Check out the shots:

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Some temple ruins.

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Shot of the river before our hike.

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Beautiful terrain!

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Lunch by the river.

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Sun rays over the mountain 🙂

I learned that the Incas travelled this trek to pay homage to Mother Earth — “Pachamama”.  The Incas believed that Pachamama ruled over planting and harvesting, and she gave everything to the people to live — water, animals, and the earth.  Llamas and other animals were sacrificed in her honour.  The Incas believed that the world was separated into three levels — the sky, the earth, and the underworld.  Each level is represented by an animal.  The condor represents the sky.  This animal symbolizes the ancestors of the Incas and was the messenger between the souls that passed on and the living world.  The puma represents the earth.  This member of the cat family symbolizes strength and power.  And finally, the snake represents the underworld.  This reptile symbolizes wisdom and the beginning of new life.  Since the snake came out from underground the Incas believed that life began from below the surface.

At the halfway point we reached Wayllabamba (“Way-JA-bam-ba”, another fun word to say!).  This was a checkpoint for us and a place to rest.  At 3000 m above sea level I was definitely chewing some coca leaves to deal with the thinner air.  I hope I’m not developing an addiction . . .

After about six hours of hiking and exploring this leg of the trail we reached our camp.  Rejoice that no one died!  We marched into our camp to a thunderous applause by our porters —  locals who were employed by G Adventures to carry our camping gear and prepare our meals.

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The nicest people on Earth. They could’ve banded together,  jack our stuff and left us on the mountain. My imagination sucks sometimes . . .

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Our camping site!

MOMENT OF ZEN:  I’m a big fan of volunteering and giving back to your community.  One thing I’ve learned with community giving is do something you are passionate about.  On this mountain I had a great opportunity to partner with  one of my teammates to help a woman who needed to see a doctor.  There was a lady who was being pushed up the mountain in a wheel barrow.  I was told by my guide that she was going to see the doctor in a nearby village.  With all the rocks and challenging uphill degree myself and a teammate of mine decided to help push her in the wheel barrow.  I thought to myself “FINALLY!  All those times pushing a sled in the gym is going to pay off!”  I LURVE training.  So combining my interest in volunteerism and my love for the push sled I was able to help someone get to the top of a mountain.

Sometimes a helping hand is all you need to make the world a better place :)

Sometimes a helping hand is all you need to make the world a better place 🙂

From the top of the mountain there was a horse waiting to carry her the rest of the way.  Thank goodness!  I thought we were going to have to push her the whole way!  Definitely felt fulfilled and energized after helping her out.  Maybe that’s a new thrill we should all pursue — the rush of helping others reach their mountain tops.  The contribution doesn’t have to be much, just meaningful.  And no matter where you are in life one thing you will always have is something to give. 🙂

Peace, love, and adventure!

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