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The Inca Trail

No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one. - Elbert Hubbard

I am home. I really enjoyed my trip to Peru, despite the hike being totally exhausting. The time on the Inca Trail was probably the hardest four days physically I’ve ever spent. Check these numbers:

  • Day One: 7.5 miles – beginning elevation 8,500 feet, ending elevation 9,850 feet.
  • Day Two: 7 miles – beginning elevation 9,850 feet; high point, 13,800 feet; ending elevation, 11,500 feet.
  • Day Three: 9 miles – beginning elevation 11,500 feet, highest points – two separate passes, 12,800 feet and 12,000 feet; ending elevation 8,700 feet.
  • Day Four: 5.5 miles – beginning elevation 8,700 feet; ending elevation at Machu Picchu 7,800.

That is a lot of climbing and descending at very high altitudes. Much of the days were spend walking 50 steps and stopping to catch one's breath; walking another 50 steps and stopping to catch one's breath; walking another 50 steps and stopping to catch one's breath. You get the idea. As an overweight, under exercising, ex-smoker, I felt I did pretty good - better in fact that a couple of the 30-somethings in the 13 person hiking group I was with.  If you would like to duplicate the experience at home, think about getting on a stairmaster with a backpack for seven hours - with half the oxygen molecules sucked out of the room.


What I found totally incredible, however, were the porters who humped our tents, food and other supplies. Weighing in at about 130 pounds soaking wet, these guys carried half their body weight on their backs and jogged the entire trail wearing what looked like plastic shower sandals. And a couple had been doing the trail once a week for 30+ years. Just one more reason to stay in school, IMHO.

The views, the Incan ruins, and the flora and fauna made the hardship worthwhile. I might even do it again. Might. 

If there are lessons to be learned about technology or libraries or education from this experience, I don't want to think about them right now.  It was incredible and if any of you are contemplating doing this hike and want to talk, I am happy to do so.  

mpdeadwoman.jpg More photos are on my SmugMug site.



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Reader Comments (2)

Thank you for sharing your experience! Did you guys use a tour? We used Inca Trail Tours and had the trip of a lifetime!

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

Hi Jenna,

I think it is required now that everyone go with a tour group. I don't remember the name of the outfit we used, but I can't say I would recommend them anyway.

Thanks for the comment,


September 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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