Salkantay Trek part 1

This is the first post in about a week, and that’s because we were on the Salkantay trek.  Where do I begin, the Salkantay trek was easily the most difficult hike I have ever done.  5 days, 4 nights, 4600m in elevation, and almost 80km in total distance.  The trek started from Mollepata, Peru and ended overlooking the sunrise at Machu Picchu.  It was an incredible experience, not only because what we were able to achieve but from the friendships we gained along the way. 
Let’s go back a bit to when I started planning the Salkantay trek, I wanted to do the trek without guide because I’m constantly suffering from hubris.  Devin made some good points about me and him being in the mountains for 5 days is the sure way to kill each other, and we ended up joining a group with a guide.  This decision turns out to be brilliant because we became friends with some great people.

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The photo above is our group.  Fabian, the German computer programmer who has about more than a year of travel planned and can walk faster than anybody I have ever seen.  Rahel, the math teacher from Switzerland, who can walk as fast and effortlessly as Fabian.  She can also speak many languages; I often compare Fabian to a well made German car, and Rahel was the swiss army knife.  Going down the totem pole is the Spaniards, Ignacio and Pedro who I call San Pedro.  They are two good friends with a great sense of humor traveling down to Argentina.  Walking with them were a pleasure and most certainly fun.  San Pedro brought an array of cameras and takes selfies for days with his gopro.  Then there is the Swedish religion teacher Frederick.  Tallest member of the group, long blonde hair, easily the first person to look for when you lost your group.  He is a very funny character and has a lot to tell about religion.  He is also the only person who brings a straight iron to a hike.  Next up is Carlos, the sport climber from Brasil who is also an engineer and beer enthusiast.  Carlos was the first person I met on the bus to Mollepata.  Drunk Carlos was also extremely funny, everyone had a great time playing that 21 table game with him sipping on Colombian rum.  The original gringo shaman, Zach, was from Washington DC and he went from the crossby player from an American pie movie to a spiritual person inspired to be a gringo shaman or yoga teacher.  Next up is Aiden, Aiden is very quiet, from Britain, and loves soccer.  That is until he starts drinking and then he becomes an animal.  Then there are the french speaking, ultra cool, french Canadians from Montreal:  Danny and Marie.  For as many years as I have been making fun of Canada, they almost made me feel bad for all the jokes I have made at the expense of Canada.  Danny loves to buy everyone shots and exclaim in Spanish loudly.  Marie is a recently graduated accountant who learns dance moves really fast.  They both have pages of passport stamps that I’m very jealous of because of their study abroad.  Lauren is the Aussie that has been traveling for a bit.  She is very good at stretching her dollars on the travel, and she taught me the word tosser.  Nicole is a very nice person who told me a lot about her travel in Colombia.  Emily quite reminds me of everyone I went to high school with, she went to UCSD, and will be working in SF when she gets back.  She is also a very nice person who gave me a lot of snacks and coca leaves.  Eileen is a flight attendant but she is very quiet.  Nonetheless she is cool and has a strong soul, she walked up to lake humantay by herself in the dark after she was behind in pace.  Orla and Poppy are two very nice British doctors.  That leaves Devin and I the two gorditos as the last members of the group.  Our group was led by George or Jorge or jorgito, a very funny guy, who also knows a great deal about the trek, Inca and Machu Picchu. 
Devin did actually quite good on the trek, but I on the other hand was a disaster the first day.  As I mentioned before, I’m constantly suffering from hubris.  I didn’t bring altitude pills to the hike, nor was I chewing coca leaves on the first day of the hike.  The altitude got me, every step I took was difficult.  It wasn’t the burning of my calves nor the sweat, it was my heart that was beating outrageously fast trying to deliver the limited amount of oxygen available.  Even thou I made it to camp the first day, I wasn’t able to reach lake humantay the first day, a place I dreamt of going thanks to the combination of the altitude and my damaged meniscus in my right knee.  I felt quite ashamed about that, but for that it pushed me harder. 
Let’s go back to Mollepata a bit.  A bus picked up us all up in Cuzco, namely Plaza de San Francisco.  The bus drove up 2 hours in the chilly before dawn to Mollepata.  There we met the Spaniards, Fabian, and Zach.  We walked in a family breakfast place together and paid 4 soles for coffee and egg sandwich.  Then the bus took us to the trail head and luckily Carlos, Spaniards, Fabian, Zach and us were all in the same group.  We introduced ourselves and started the trek as the sexy pumas aka gringo shamans. The trek started hard for someone who barely slept and spent the night before drinking.  Within minutes, we were taking breaks.  This trend continued throughout the first day, and made me the slowest out of everyone.  I learned that sitting down to rest during a hike is a bad idea. 

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I didn’t take quite as many pictures as I liked during this hike because the walk was quite tiring and it doesn’t help my pace pulling out my camera so often.
After lake humantay, everyone ate the food the cook made.  Basically it’s just carb loading for the next day.  We played a table game called 21 while drinking hot tea until we went to sleep in the -7 Celsius cold.  I wore my jacket, sweatpants, beanie and gloves to sleep.
To be continued…

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