We began our trek towards the second pass at 3,975 m/13,038’, but not before trekking by our good friend Carlos (the puking backpacker), nor peeking through the ruins of Runkurakay and Sayacmarca.
Only reachable to those who hike to Machu Picchu, Runkurakay rests along the mountains slightly under 4,000m. It is said to have been a “tambo” or a resting spot for messengers. Its circular architecture is peculiar, it’s open to interpretation. I, for one, figured its circular planning this high up could only be holy in nature (at this point everything is holy).
Following the steep highway to Sayacmarca, the clouds lifted at two particular intervals revealing to us the beauty of two lakes. The mountains here are mysterious, and nature definitely dictates who sees what, and when. Today, the clouds ran the show, ushering us to be on our way.
We followed the original Inca highway down to the ridge-top ruins of Sayacmarca. We climbed the steepest steps along a narrow pass on the side of the mountain up to The “Dominant Town”. The glimpse of how another civilization lived in this high of altitude, is definitely worth the crazy climb up.
We continued along the trail, and entered the cloud forest. The misty air was replenishing. Walking up and down, there was nothing but lush forests,rolling rivers, and us.
After lunch it rained, and for the first time I was leading the trail.
2 hours later we arrived at our campsite at the Phuyupatamarca ruins (3,679m/12,067 ft). Phuyupatamarca, Quechua for “City above the Clouds”, is an archaeological complex that overlooks the Vilcanota River far below. This was where we’d have “sublime” views towards the peak of Salcantay, but by the time we reached it, there were no views. All of my clothes were soaked, they placed my tent next to the two-bucket-toilet-tent again, and the rain didn’t stop.
The boys suggested that I, like them, hang my shoes along the side of my tent so they stay covered and don’t stink up my tent. Their reasoning was that the rain will eventually lift, and they couldn’t get wetter than they already were.
Note to self: When camping and it rains, keep your sh*t inside.
After I had securely hung my shoes along the inner outside of my tent, the rain not only came down harder, but I couldn’t remove them from the hook they were tied to! So not only was there a river flowing through my shoes, the rain then started leaking into my tent soaking the rest of my clothes, sleeping bag, and mattress pad.
I laid miserably cold in my wet sleeping bag, I cried. I was so cold, tired, I wanted to see views of the valley’s and mountains, I wanted to see the stars again… I was like a child again, throwing a tantrum at myself… I was reminded that all life is precious, especially the moments you only get to live once. And because all life is precious, that includes unfavorable moments such as now.
I toughed it up, put myself to sleep, and I drifted straight into a nightmare. I dreamed I was in a lost, dark land, scared, unsure of my path, and alone. Then appeared an inspiring person I knew, an Angel. Floating in the air, she was as beautiful in this dimension, as I knew her on Earth. She calmly told me not to be scared, and that everything was going to be alright. And just like that, I woke up to a new day.
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