Inca Trail - Pictures & Videos

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Peru (Part I)

The greatest journey b...
The greatest journey b...
The greatest journey begins with a single step. It also ends with very sore calves and swollen feet.
We spent the night in ...
We spent the night in ...
We spent the night in Miami before leaving from there for Peru. Let me go on record as saying that NO ONE has better mannequins than South Beach. I think I told one I loved her, after my $23 mojito.
Flying from Lima to Cu...
Flying from Lima to Cu...
Flying from Lima to Cusco, with the Andes poking up through the clouds, it's easy to see why the Incas revered the mountains as sacred.
Cusco is a really cool...
Cusco is a really cool...
Cusco is a really cool little South American city. It sits up at like 11,000 feet, so it's where most people spend a co uple of days to acclimate before beginning the four-day hike to Machu Picchu. I decided to explore while everyone else
Cusco is full of tiny ...
Cusco is full of tiny ...
Cusco is full of tiny little streets and alleys, and the doors and balconies in the the city are all unique and quite pretty.
Near our hotel I found...
Near our hotel I found...
Near our hotel I found the ominous Steep Steps of Doom. Undaunted, I decided to climb them and see if I could get a good view of the city.
Good view of the city,...
Good view of the city,...
Good view of the city, check. I could still go higher, though, couldn't I?
Higher I went.  After ...
Higher I went. After ...
Higher I went. After hiking for a while I ran into a llama. Or maybe an alpaca. I'm not sure how to tell the difference, except that at one point I ate some alpaca and it was pretty tasty.
That's what I'm talkin...
That's what I'm talkin...
That's what I'm talking about! I'm pretty high above the city here. You can see the Plaza de Armas, crowded with the parade of that morning.
I thought I was so hig...
I thought I was so hig...
I thought I was so high up that life couldn't survive, but then I turned around and saw a futbol game taking place in this little courtyard.
There were also some l...
There were also some l...
There were also some local kids with their llama or alpaca or whatever, and I took a picture with them and then gave them some money and a couple of cookies.
Later that afternoon, ...
Later that afternoon, ...
Later that afternoon, we all took a tour of the ruins high above Cusco, Sacsayhuaman (pronounced, seriously, "sexy woman"). They were cool.
Incas were freaking cr...
Incas were freaking cr...
Incas were freaking crazy. This rock weighed something like 130 TONS, and it came from 40 kilometers away, and then the rocks were put together perfectly without mortar. Screw all that work, I say.
After a good night's s...
After a good night's s...
After a good night's sleep, several of us got picked up by a van to go way up in the mountains for whitewater rafting. It was $25 for the entire day. Here some of us are celebrating our good luck with an Inca Kola, the taste of Peru.
Here's one of our raft...
Here's one of our raft...
Here's one of our rafting guides, Jesus (but pronounced "Hey Seuss"). The rafting was fun but pretty uneventful, except for the really cold water.
After another night's ...
After another night's ...
After another night's sleep, it was time to head off to begin our hike of the Inca Trail. We stopped at this little town, and I picked out a guinea pig to eat later. It's a delicacy there. It's called cuy.
The beginning of the I...
The beginning of the I...
The beginning of the Inca Trail. I was pretty excited. Probably more than I should have been for hiking for 4 days.
There was also a statu...
There was also a statu...
There was also a statue of a great warrior. I felt inspired to begin the journey.
After purchasing a nat...
After purchasing a nat...
After purchasing a native walking stick, and with almost 30 pounds on my back, it was time to set off.
The bridge crossing ov...
The bridge crossing ov...
The bridge crossing over into the Inca Trail. Would we make it all the way to Machu Picchu? How hard would it be? Would I actually eat a guinea pig? Stay tuned for Part II to find out!

Peru (Part II)

As we first began the ...
As we first began the ...
As we first began the journey of the ancient Incas, we were awed by the majesty of the jagged mountains around us. Also, we still thought the trail would be pretty easy.
It was easy walking th...
It was easy walking th...
It was easy walking that first day, and every step brought an amazing landscape.
I impressed some llama...
I impressed some llama...
I impressed some llamas early on with my hiking ability. The one on the left high-fived me as I went by. And by "high-fived" I mean "tried to spit on".
Far below we saw our f...
Far below we saw our f...
Far below we saw our first real ruins of the trail. The terraces follow the shape of a serpent, one of the three sacred animals of the Incas. On the right side you can see the Temple of the Sun for this set of ruins.
At one point, we round...
At one point, we round...
At one point, we rounded a corner and realized that our porters, each carrying packs several times heavier than ours, had RUN ahead of us and set up the lunch tent. We felt like sallies, but it was nice to have a hot lunch served.
We saw some mountains ...
We saw some mountains ...
We saw some mountains in the distance that were around 20,000 feet tall. Think about that. Twenty. Thousand. Feet. The highest ones in Colorado are a little over 14 grand.
After dinner that nigh...
After dinner that nigh...
After dinner that night, I played a local card game with one of our guides, Edgar (on the right), and a porter. I got r eally good at this game as the trip went on. I won't say the name of the game, since this is a family story, but if you
The second day of hiki...
The second day of hiki...
The second day of hiking dawned quite nicely. The rain that had fallen all night was burning off, and we had what seemed to be a beautiful trail through the high forest.
Boy, were we wrong.  T...
Boy, were we wrong. T...
Boy, were we wrong. The trail quickly became a nearly vertical beast made entirely of stone steps. From camp to the fi rst summit that day we climbed nearly 4000 vertical feet in less than 3 miles. If you want to know what that's like, pu
I can
I can
I can't even describe how hard this day of hiking was, and no pictures could ever do it justice. Let's just say it was probably the hardest single day of hiking you could ever go on that didn't involve words like "crampon" and "hardest way
There
There
There's no real way to tell the angle from this picture, but here we're basically looking straight down towards the camp we came from that morning. It's unbelievably steep, trust me.
The place we camped th...
The place we camped th...
The place we camped that second night was gorgeous. We had amazing views of mountains down this awesome valley. I'm glad our guides didn't tell us we were sleeping on an ancient graveyard until the next day.
I was so relieved to g...
I was so relieved to g...
I was so relieved to get into camp that afternoon that I basically just took off all my wet clothes and looked like a stud for the rest of the day.
I took this picture ou...
I took this picture ou...
I took this picture out the door of my tent while I was lying down for a rest. Booyah!
Day Three dawned rainy...
Day Three dawned rainy...
Day Three dawned rainy. It stayed rainy all day, making our views not as spectacular, but still very cool and eerie. And wet.
We saw lots and lots o...
We saw lots and lots o...
We saw lots and lots of ruins on this day. That was ironic, since our legs were RUINED from the previous day's hike. Har har!
I think these ruins we...
I think these ruins we...
I think these ruins were called Choquesuysuy. They once housed priests for the area, and the terraces here were for decoration, not for farming like all the other terraces we saw.
The fog and rain made ...
The fog and rain made ...
The fog and rain made everything look forboding and kind of scary, but also freaking sweet.
Realizing that it woul...
Realizing that it woul...
Realizing that it would suck to have this kind of weather the next day when we hiked into Machu Picchu, several of us ma de an offering of coca leaves to the mountains. One of our guides, Eloy, showed us how to do it properly so we wouldn't
Later in the day, the ...
Later in the day, the ...
Later in the day, the clouds cleared some and far far below we could see the small town of Aguas Calientes. This excite d us because that meant we were getting closer to Machu Picchu. Would we see awesome ruins with huge terraces before th

Peru (Part III)

As Day Three wore on, ...
As Day Three wore on, ...
As Day Three wore on, we began descending several thousand stone steps down through the fog and clouds.
It was strange to be i...
It was strange to be i...
It was strange to be in what appeared to be a tropical forest at such a high altitude.
Eventually we emerged ...
Eventually we emerged ...
Eventually we emerged at the terraces of Yunkapata, where the Incas had once experimented with agriculture.
We took even more step...
We took even more step...
We took even more steps up to the top of the terraces, and were rewarded with a great view of the valley below.
To get an idea of the ...
To get an idea of the ...
To get an idea of the scale of the terraces, I took a picture of Ross and Lisa descending. Keep in mind that they are both average-sized people, not like dwarves or anything.
Close to our campsite ...
Close to our campsite ...
Close to our campsite for the final night were the ruins of Winaywayna, which had both terraces and lots of buildings. We didn't spend very much time here because it was getting dark, and we had also noticed something near our
A tiny restaurant, her...
A tiny restaurant, her...
A tiny restaurant, here at the ends of the earth, with a patio looking out over an amazing valley, THAT SERVED BEER!!! We were stunned. Here in the middle of nowhwere we were able to buy bottles of the local beer for the equivalent of 2 A
In case you were wonde...
In case you were wonde...
In case you were wondering, it IS possible to stay up late with the guides and porters and drink so much beer that you t ake the wrong path back to your tent, almost fall off a cliff to your death in the middle of the night, and sleep maybe
On the trail the next ...
On the trail the next ...
On the trail the next morning, the day dawned perfectly clear. I knew Eloy's offering to the mountains the day before would work. We were only a couple of hours from Machu Picchu!
After hiking through t...
After hiking through t...
After hiking through the forest, we made it up to Intipunku, the Sun Gate. There, finally we got our first glimpse of M achu Picchu. It was literally stunning. Pictures can't capture how awesome it was to turn the corner and see the fable
That jagged mountain t...
That jagged mountain t...
That jagged mountain to the right of Machu Picchu is Huaynapicchu. It's unbelievably steep, and a hard climb to get to the top. And there are freaking ruins on top of it. The Incas were totally nutso.
Here
Here
Here's the classic postcard picture of Machu Picchu with Huaynapicchu in the background. Except this is no postcard; I took this with my own camera from the old guardhouse above the ruins.
I have surprisingly fe...
I have surprisingly fe...
I have surprisingly few pictures of me from my trip. I didn't think to hand my camera off to other people often enough. I wish I had smiled or something here.
I was kind of rushed m...
I was kind of rushed m...
I was kind of rushed my first time through the city, because I wanted to climb Huaynapicchu. They only let a small number of people up each day, and I was determined to get up there.
After an absurdly stee...
After an absurdly stee...
After an absurdly steep climb, those of us who made it to the top were rewarded with spectacular views of Machu Picchu b elow. Being on top of Huaynapicchu was both awesome and scary, because it's so high up and surrounded by sheer cliffs.
See?  That
See? That
See? That's my foot dangling over a 1500 foot freefall to the jungle floor. I felt like I needed a parachute the whole time I was up here.
Ho-hum, just a normal ...
Ho-hum, just a normal ...
Ho-hum, just a normal day sitting on the edge of a ridiculous drop with the ancient sacred city of the Incas way down below. Yawn.
Justin and I were hiki...
Justin and I were hiki...
Justin and I were hiking together for the day, and decided to head back down to Machu Picchu to see it better now that we had climbed Huaynapicchu. I don't know who this bald person is.
On the way down I casu...
On the way down I casu...
On the way down I casually asked Justin if he wanted to hike over to the Great Cave with me. We had seen a sign on the way up, and there was no way it could be that far away, right?
Holy freaking crap wer...
Holy freaking crap wer...
Holy freaking crap were we wrong. The trail led on a 2-hour detour from our hike, and was insanely steep. We ended up down on the jungle floor, where it was hot and we ran out of water. It was NOT SAFE.
We pressed on, however...
We pressed on, however...
We pressed on, however, and were rewarded by finding the Great Cave and the Temple of the Moon. I don't know what perce ntage of visitors to Machu Picchu get to see this stuff, but it has to be less than 1%. It was really cool, except for
Awesome Incan architec...
Awesome Incan architec...
Awesome Incan architecture inside the Great Cave. Incidentally, later that day when we told one of our guides where we had hiked to, his eyes got big and he said a very bad word in English. I don't think he thought gringos could hike like
Exhausted, out of wate...
Exhausted, out of wate...
Exhausted, out of water, and so dehydrated that we had stopped sweating, we made it back to Machu Picchu. We felt like we appreciated the city better than anyone else who had ever been there.
I had run out of adjec...
I had run out of adjec...
I had run out of adjectives to describe our trip by the second day, so I was reduced to wandering around basically with my mouth open and saying "Wow" over and over.
It
It
It's a good thing llamas aren't afraid of heights, or this one wouldn't be eating right on the edge of a cliff like that.
Peru is awesome.  The ...
Peru is awesome. The ...
Peru is awesome. The mountains, the ruins, the random weird blue flowers growing out of the ruins on the edge of a cliff. Go to Peru. Hike to Machu Picchu; don't be a sally and take the train. You'll appreciate it more that way.
Final tally?  Miles hi...
Final tally? Miles hi...
Final tally? Miles hiked: 20-something, nearly all of it either steep up or down. Inches worn off my walking stick: 1. Giant scary infected blisters: 2. Number of knee operations I'll probably need: 1. Memories: I dunno, a million? Is

Peru (Director's Cut)

Peru has a really cool...
Peru has a really cool...
Peru has a really cool local decor. If it was described in trendy New York fasion magazine-speak, it would be called something like "Old and political, with a hint of NeoLivestock".
Looking down towards t...
Looking down towards t...
Looking down towards the valley from the Yunkapata terraces, before we reached our final campsite on the hike.
Here
Here
Here's a photo of the view from the old guardhouse at Machu Picchu. The mountains around the ancient city were freaking sweet.
This is probably the m...
This is probably the m...
This is probably the most artistically dramatic photo of a llama that's ever been taken. It makes a good desktop background if you like llamas a lot.
If you look at photos ...
If you look at photos ...
If you look at photos of Machu Picchu, you'll notice that there's that one tree in the middle, and that's the only one in the whole city. Well, here it is.
This view of Machu Pic...
This view of Machu Pic...
This view of Machu Picchu gives you some perspective on how much construction took place to make the city. It's ridicul ous how much work the Incas put into making crazy buildings on the sides and tops of mountains. If you look closely you
This is the front of t...
This is the front of t...
This is the front of the cathedral we visited in Lima. We couldn't take pictures inside, but underneath the whole thing is an extensive network of catacombs that we walked through. There were bones EVERYWHERE. Hallways of them, rooms ful
Ah, the infamous pictu...
Ah, the infamous pictu...
Ah, the infamous picture of the guinea pig (thanks, Melinda) we ate our last night in Cusco. Before you ask, no it didn't taste like chicken. It actually tasted about how it looked: like a giant whole cooked rat.

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4/23/2014 12:35:44 PM