Day 4 – 10.5 miles, 5 hours
Still just us, our two feet, and miles of trail ahead. Kind of weird to think that it’s possible just to walk to wherever you need to go, no cars or airplanes required.Today was tough, both physically and mentally. Really, really tough. We all stayed up late with Cusquena beers dancing around the bonfire in La Playa and weren’t exactly chipper the next morning. And we were all so sore. Getting up and down steps was torture. Our legs just didn’t quite work. Camilla’s toenails were black from the pressure against the front of her shoes due to all the downhill trails in the past day and a half. It was also the fourth day of hiking and we were tired of walking and just plain tired.
Some awfully shaky bridges had to be crossed. Another darn cable car ride during which I gripped Michael’s walking stick until my knuckles were white. A thousand mosquitoes plagued us, only most of which were repelled by bug spray.
But we knew that it was our last day and we wanted to finish strong. More hot springs awaited us in Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu was just a day away. A real bed was waiting. A hot shower. We were motivated. That first glimpse of Machu Picchu in the picture above was breathtaking. We were almost there. I was a little sad because this experience of a lifetime was almost coming to a close.We stopped to eat at a small rest point. Our chef Benito had packed us lunches this day because his leg of the trail was over and he was heading back to Cusco. He had been very accommodating of the fact that I don’t eat meat. Benito even had faux beef for me one night.
I stared at my feet while eating my omelette and fried rice. These two little feet, in my worn out sneakers, had carried me so far. I would have never thought my body could do what it did. It was inspiring and empowering. Made me want to do more hikes. Once I recovered of course.That’s Aguas Calientes, nestled in a valley in the middle of the forest. It’s gorgeous. We walked pretty fast before lunch, but trying to get any sort of speed back after lunch was impossible. Camilla had to sit down at one point. We were so tired.
Michael and I also got into a huge blowout fight after lunch. That’s pretty good for having been in each other’s company 24/7 for the past three days slogging through the mountains and dealing with new and sometimes difficult circumstances. We made up just in time to shore up the last of our flagging strength and slowly and haltingly run hand-in-hand into Aguas Calientes. We were done!We all spent over two hours in the hot springs. Aguas Calientes’ hot springs are not at all as nice as the ones we went to in Santa Teresa the previous afternoon. The water honestly looked filthy. I’m not sure whether it was just the natural state of the volcanic spring or whether it was because the pools were tiny and the water was brown with grime from a thousand unwashed bodies. Barf.
Nevertheless, we were desperate. My legs actually felt 90% better and almost functioned again after the long soak. It had been another long day. I luxuriated in a hot shower, scrubbed my scalp with shampoo until I thought it was going to bleed, and was asleep by 8:30 p.m. Nothing like the exhausted sleep 40 miles of trail in the past 4 days brings.