Signing up to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu seemed easy enough: pay some money, sign up a couple months ahead and hit the gym. After all, they said that any reasonably fit person would be fine doing the 4-day/3-night, 26-mile hike at altitudes over 12,000 ft.
The first day (aka the easiest day) killed us. My friends and I wound up being last – dragging an hour behind everyone else. As the days progressed, so did our lag time. An hour behind became 3 hours, and the rest of our group no longer waited for us to get to camp before eating.
When we finally passed Dead Woman’s Pass, we assumed it would be smooth sailing from there, but no such luck. The only thing we wanted at that point was to get to Machu Picchu without requiring a rescue mission. (Actually, what we really wanted to do was jump off the cliff.)
Our guide who was designated to be in the back with the stragglers was full of patience and encouraging words like “Vamos a la playa,” which has become my and my friends’ most hated phrase. Yes, we did eventually make it, but next time, I’m taking the train!
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