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March 26, 2006

The Hike

Every day the hike was long, beautiful, and extremely hard work. The confidence-builder is: being passed by porters as though you're standing still, and they're carrying double or triple what you're carrying, and wearing huaraches made of old tires and no socks.

Each morning we started with an early breakfast of a rice soup or porridge and a thin veggy omelette or pancake with caramel sauce. I'm never very hungry at altitude, but everything tasted good. Coca tea was available every meal.

Then we began the hours of hiking the rocky stone trail, sometimes divided by stops at fantastic ruins. We learned that messenger runners called "chaski" ran the trail to carry communiques (remember Mercury, with the wings on his feet? I think these guys came first.) We tasted "chicha" corn beer, which Greg particularly liked. We learned that Inca construction uses walls that are wider at the bottom, in an anti-seismic strategy. We learned that they send their dead off to the next world via tombs, placing them in the fetal position—often with a dog for companionship and protection.

The views were incredible when it was clear and utterly non-existent when the fog rolled in—which could occur momentarily.

Lunch breaks included a two-course hot meal every day. Teatime in the evening featured popcorn and cookies with a variety of teas, including coca or fresh anise tea from plants on the trail. Dinner also was two courses—soup and a main dish. Lots of veggy choices, and lots of chicken or fish.

We slept in our own sleeping bags in three-man tents that had plenty of room to keep our gear dry. Actually, gear left outside tends to disappear—feral dogs particularly like to take sweaty, smelly shoes. We were glad to have our Thermarests, since the foam yoga mats the company provided looked pretty thin.

The hike was well-timed and organized. I was feeling back-to-normal on about the second day—just in time for Greg to admit the soup had gotten him, too. He was on Cipro for the rest of the hike.

Posted by sedda at March 26, 2006 11:06 PM