Woke up to the song, “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride. Nobody’s gonna slow me down. Oh no, I’ve got to keep on moving.”
Today was the most difficult day, we began walking and Deniz and Cindy needed to horses to make it to the top, whereas Carmen, Chala and I made our way up this 50 degree angle to the top of Salkantay Pass. We managed walking 5.5 miles uphill to the top where we stacked our victory stones and admired the beautiful mountain peaks; above the clouds, where the rocks meet the edge of where snow begins to cap the mountain peaks.
I was proud that I made it to the top and the view was well worth it. No words can describe the feeling of being on that point at such a high elevation. Starting at 13,780 feet this morning, we reached 15,253 feet once we reached Salkantay Pass.
Out in the distance a mist filled the valley while mountain tops protrude into the clouds. We looked out across the valley below and spotted Deniz and Cindy waiting for us to arrive at the bottom. I yelled his name and my voice echoed over and over again, while Deniz returned a whistling reply. They were very far away, and yet he still heard us from the top of the mountain pass.
We continued on until we came to meet with the river. Here we sat and enjoyed the soft grass, running water and a chance to enjoy the warm sun on our faces. Gazing in the water, colorful stones of green, marbled white and brown, and black with various color speckles fill the river beds. We had lunch nearby with everyone out in the fresh air where we can enjoy our surroundings. The horses grazing; pigs and dogs roaming freely. Continuing on you can see where the land becomes more concentrated with vegetation. Flowers of purple, pink and yellow. Fruit, avocado trees, and various plants line the trail while humming birds dart from tree to tree, beautiful with purple chests. As I try to take a picture they would only dart off to the next flower.
We saw Cusco’s smallest Orchid which I climbed up to see and take a picture for my mom. Continuing on to camp along the path where at one point just before dark a Peruvian porter ran up to us sharing how a horse just fell of the trail when trying to pass another horse and was stuck in the trees on the side of the mountain. They were in the process of trying to climb down the side of the cliff to find it. Edgar informed us that they thought it was still alive and when they find it they will have to put it out of its misery. As I gazed down cliff side where the horse fell, you can see where he went straight down with tree limbs broken along the thick foliage. From where we were to the bottom of the mountain-side it had to be about a quarter-mile down with thick jungle covering the side of the mountain all the way down. It was very sad to think what was going through his mind and give us a new perspective regarding opting to ride the horses through these trails.
It began getting darker and darker and for about 45 minutes we walked to camp in the dark. I led the way and you could see flash lights sporadically dart into view randomly along trails in the mountains where others were heading to their destinations.
When we arrived at camp dinner was ready and we relaxed by the fire as we ate. Pisco and Peruvian Whiskey filled the cups of fellow Venezuelan trekkers while stories of eating Cuy, drinking and various other thoughts filled the air in Spanish.