Memorable Highlights of the Day:
- 7-ish in the morning. Just hiked 3 miles. At the Sun Gate.
- (Me & Troy) “Okay, so this was worth it.”
- 3 more miles and then a private tour of Machu Picchu
- (Troy) “Everyone can suck it.”
- (Me) “Whoa there, Betty White, maybe you should just eat Snickers.”
- (Me again) “Why are my feet swollen?”
Elaborations on Memories of the Early Morning:
With the number of hikers all at the final campsite before the national park that is Machu Picchu, it could have a mosh pit wave of smelly and tired hikers on the way to the Sun Gate. But because almost everyone had hiked their tails off the day before and it was 3 AM, most were all zombies standing around in a cattle call hoping they didn’t get too close to any of the edges of the cliffs. And apparently, some of the tour guides didn’t want to urge their groups along like ours did. Jeremy and crew REALLY wanted us to see that Sun Gate, so we were “rested” (in quotes because it was still 3 in the morning, er, or at night) and closer to the front of the line where we had to get our passports stamped to enter the premises.
Our guides wanted us to be sitting at the Sun Gate before the sun breached the horizon. It was a beautiful three miles once it stopped being pitch black – I can remember the colors of the foliage reminding me of being in Willie Wonka’s playland. But the very last obstacle on what turned out to be a Tough Mudder kind of hiking experience was to get up the Monkey Stairs.
Side note: I’m not sure I mentioned this in any of my writings yet, but the mini-history of the Incan Trail is that it was used as the communication highway and people would literally RUN it in order to relay important information. And I thought the porters were epic.
So when those runners got to the Monkey Stairs, I’m not sure if they were like me when I laid eyes on the clearly not ADA compliant ladder-of-a-staircase and exclaimed, “Are you kidding me?” I’m not sure how to describe the angle except for saying it was practically straight up.
Five years after doing this, I don’t actually remember the stairs. Not sure why I blacked out the experience.
ThenI was up at the Sun Gate! Troy was already up there. With his rest day and greyhoundedness, I do remember that he bolted up the stairs and never looked back. Stopping to rest or look around while on the stairs was not an option for him.
So I sat next to him. He was quiet, still catching his breath, and staring out into the abyss that looked like a bowl of whip cream. The Sun Gate was higher than Machu Picchu so we were looking down into a ravine, and couldn’t see a thing!
And then the sun started to melt the whipped cream and the songs of angels (that ah-aw-ah kind of singing) was going on in my head when Machu Picchu revealed itself.
“Okay,” we said in unison, “so this was worth it.”