Inca Trek by Debbie Larsen (To see the original blog, you can go here: https://travelswithmysisters.wordpress.com/ )
Our guide, Miguel, picked us up at 5.30am, with an impending sense of anticipation and a little bit of apprehension, we set off. I was heading into the unknown, a place I generally try to avoid if I’m honest…the unknown is scary, the unknown can stop you in your tracks, that ‘what if’ feeling….Yes, I spent many hours at the gym, walking, breaking in my walking shoes….but….take it from me, nothing and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for what turned out to be one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I have ever done in my life (nor likely to again!)
Within a very short space of time I knew this was going to be tough, the sun was unbearably hot, beating down on me relentlessly, there is very little shade in the beginning….the path is narrow and rocky and I am out of breath within fifteen minutes and had to stop…this was to be the pattern for most of the trek….eventually, two of my sisters and the other two in our group (a lovely couple from Ireland), were way ahead of me….and would stay ahead of me for the rest of the trek. Which left just me, one sister and Miguel, who very patiently stayed with us the entire way (thank you Miguel!).
We stopped at our first resting spot, and after what seemed like an eternity, I began to breathe a little easier…at this point I have to admit, I wanted to give up, to stop, go back, all that was going through my mind was ‘I can’t do this, it’s too hard’. This is what I meant by nothing can prepare you for how agonisingly tough walking, even as slowly as I was, it is, to climb higher and higher up a mountain side that is neverending…and just to make it even harder (like that was possible) the stairs….oh my word, the stairs…steep, steep, steep and deep, which I found quite confusing….the Peruvian people are not tall, I asked Miguel why, if they had such short legs, did they build such deep steps? He didn’t really know….my own theory came to me later on when we had to climb a set of steps that were called the ‘monkey steps’, which literally meant, that due to the steepness of them (they were almost vertical), you could climb them on all fours….this, I thought, was maybe why they were all so deep, maybe the Inca’s did just that, ran up them on all fours, not walked up with sticks like we did, (the peruvians may be small, but they are very strong!)…who knows…it’s just a thought.
I asked Miguel if there was a way back, if I was struggling (which I was) could I go back the way we had come…his answer…’no way back, only forward’. And he was right, I had to keep moving forward, to keep going, step by slow step, up and up each agonising set of steps, until I reached the end….so I did….head down, concentrating on each step, I moved forward…and thought about that simple statement…no way back, only forward….and realised that this also applied to life (apologies in advance for going all philosophical on you) but, it’s true, particularly for me…the past is gone, it cannot be changed, mistakes cannot be undone…and this is how everyone should live….move forward, don’t dwell on the things that are beyond our control….find your own direction….and accept you are going to make mistakes along the way….take each day as it comes,
and above all else, enjoy the ride! After all, no one gets out alive anyway! (hehe, I pinched that off a quote I read recently).
So, back to the trek, despite the difficulties the one thing you could not fault was the scenery… words like stunning, breathtaking and amazing, don’t do it justice, I don’t think words can…the mountains that surround you are spectacular, at any moment I half expected a dinosaur to appear…this is mother nature at it’s absolute best, and the feeling you get looking out onto this magnificent scenery is unlike no other….apart from a slight breeze which ruffled the leaves of the trees and greenery surrounding you, there is very little sound…the sense of peace envelopes you like a soft hug…I could have sat for hours just taking all of it in (and probably never succeeding)…but I had to continue, move forward until I reached the end of the trek…which I did, to a round of applause from my sisters and the other couple in the group (I decided when writing this blog I would not name individuals, particularly those I meet along the way, purely out of respect for them). Myself and my sister, (whom Miguel had nicknamed spiderwoman…she does not like heights so clung to the sides of the mountain most of the way up!), completed the trek in seven hours, the others did it in six….but no matter how long it took any of us, the sense of achievement is awesome!
Since returning from the trek and speaking to others, I have begun to realise that what we did was something special, we had climbed a huge mountain, we had pushed the boundaries of our physical and mental capabilities, we had found the strength from deep inside to keep moving forward…and we achieved what at the beginning I had thought was impossible…we had travelled back in time and walked in the footsteps of the Inca’s….how awesome is that!