Hiking the Inca Trail: Dead Woman’s Pass


In order to make up for those 2 hours we lost, we got up really early to get started on hiking the Inca Trail. Not only that, but we would have 2 high passes to hike. The highest point being Dead Woman’s Pass at 13,780 feet (4,200m). Generally the 2nd day is close to 10 miles of hiking, but we likely did close to 13 miles. 

Quickly brushing our teeth and eating the feast of a breakfast they cooked up as fast as we could. In order to be prepared, we really had to get our packs ready the night before. I woke up feeling nauseous and our guide Frank told me to hold out my hands. He poured a fragrant liquid on them, and I breathed in the strong alcohol and floral scent. It cleared my senses and my stomach started to feel better. As we set off I kept a slow and steady pace for the first half of the day.







In all honesty, I didn’t feel normal the entire day, but the views were stunning. I pushed through with each step. Mike was a tremendous help and really encouraged everyone that was having difficulty with the altitude. Gatorade and clifbars  helped me stay fueled with all that energy I was burning off. Since we also had a long day I went through most of my water by the time we reached the resting point at Llullucha Pampa. This is the last point to buy water and snacks before reaching Machu Picchu. Prices are higher, but I gave in anyways and purchased some snacks and water.

Our group set out again on the trail. We could see people far off in the distance and it didn’t seem so far away. Once we were on the trail I felt like I was walking but not going very far at all. It was quite deceiving to look back on the resting spot and the top of Dead Woman’s Pass while both seem so close in reach. My legs felt capable of moving but the pressure on my chest and fuzziness in my head was preventing me from going the pace that I wanted. Step by step, one foot in front of the other, we kept on. I couldn’t even begin to think about doing a 2nd peak, it would have psyched me out. Focusing on reaching that first peak was the goal. Closing in on the top, I found myself going much slower. Our guide kindly stuck by my side to make sure I was doing okay. It was such a feeling of accomplishment to take that final step and reach the highest point of the hike. The group cheered each person as they reached the top. After a snack and bathroom break we all gathered for a photo together, standing strong and proud. 





Then I knew it would all be downhill from there – with exception of that 2nd pass of course. The fog started to come in even more and it got very windy. I bundled up in my fleece and gloves to begin our decent. The steps felt so much steeper going down, and I was concentrated on going down as fast as I could while still being safe. I knew once I got to lower altitude that I would feel a little better, so I set my sights on that. Stopping for a short lunch was a challenge. I was not feeling so great and another group member was feeling even worse. She rallied though and kicked butt on the 2nd part of the day. 
The second part of hiking the inca trail was so peaceful and had pretty views of glaciers, waterfalls and ponds. Mike and I stuck close to Michelle and Todd in the group. It was nice that we were all going the same pace and looking out for each other. By the time we got close to the 2nd peak, I started to get my energy back. Eager to be done with our uphill hiking for the day, I continued on. Passing by several ponds hearing frogs *ribbit* and arriving at the top of the 2nd peak, I paused and took in all the beautiful sights around me. The clouds began to clear and the four of us plus our guide were awarded with the most spectacular views of mountaintops and glaciers. It was one of those beautiful moments that you always will remember. Even though we were behind compared to the other group members, we were able to see a great sunset setting behind the mountains.
Then it was time to put our headlamps on and hike another 45 minutes to an hour in the dark. Thank goodness at least half of us did not leave our lights in the bags the porters were carrying! What a day it was! The rest of the group seemed relived when they saw us arrive at camp. Mike captured some night shots while I got ready for the next day ahead. 
Read about the first, third, and last day on the trail. Looking for tips on what to pack, how much it costs and how to make it through the hike?

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