Saturday, September 7, 2013

365 Inspirations--250: The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

I'm several posts behind, but am now catching up. We were way out in the Andes Mountains trekking and camping and it was impossible to get Internet, but I'm determined to keep these posts coming.

So let me backtrack a little.

On Friday, we began our trek over the Salkantay Glacier on our way to Machu Picchu. When we arrived at our trailhead, we had to wait two hours for our pack horses. We would be traveling with a cook, a guide and a horseman.

Since the horses were late, this put us back two hours on our arrival to the first camp and we had to trek in the dark with headlamps over very rocky and steep terrain and even our guide had difficulty finding the path.

The accent over Salkantay Glacier was not easy and the altitude gain was significant. We reached the top of the mountain at 4,200 meters--much higher than Washington's Mt. Rainier where I live.

Every step was a challenge near the top as we struggled to get oxygen.

We were happy to finally make it. We took a picture at the top and our guide performed a ritual. Our guide is Quechuan and was born on the Inca Trail. He very much believes in ancient rituals and making offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth).  Even though we were exhausted and it was starting to get cold on the mountain top, we stood in a circle holding two coco leaves each as our guide chanted each one of our names and wished everyone a safe journey.

He then placed the coco leaves under a stack of rocks at the summit and we turned to descend the mountain just as the sun was setting.

Have you ever reached the summit of a mountain or mountain pass? How did it feel?

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