jeudi 22 mai 2014

Salkantay Trek!

Condor, puma and Snake alongside Pachacutec. At Agua Calientes.

Salkantay trek:

Highest point in the path!
Howdy friends. So tuesday (technically yesterday) I returned from the Salkantay trek.
It was incredible, kinda feels like a dream, like something that I have experienced in another lifetime, or a long time ago. Salkantay means Wild Mountain or Savage Mountain in Quechua so the first time I heard that, I knew that I would have to rally Machu Picchu by means of that path.

I have written lightly during the trek but I would offer to start with those excerpts.

At the end of day one we would be at the base of the glacier in the back ground.
Day 1, evening:

            So, a small log. I am now at the highest altitude I have ever been. It is hard to believe, seems like I have done it before. So 3922m, it is quite cold and 5 of the 16 kilos I have in my pack is for this night only. It will be the coldest night of the trek. Tomorrow, biggest day, 10 hours of trek, 26 kilometers with the highest point of our journey, 4600m.
            Today was fun, a bit hard but I have done reiki on my legs and it really helped. I am more disquieted by the potential rash between my thighs. So reiki there too. And ointment. It is now 19:30 and everybody is going to bed. Cold is estimated to reach around -2 to -10 Celsius. I will not be sleeping nude tonight. We walked 19 kilometers or 15 or 22 depending on the source of information. I had a great conversation with two Irishmen the afternoon walked zipped besides us.

Our group, Patrick, Mike, Sebastien, Fabrice, Philipe, Maxime, Valentin, Stephanie et Audrey.

            We are said to be fast walkers but remain close to schedule nonetheless, so we must be slightly above average. Heat was rough and the sun strong. Tomorrow, we wake at 5am, breakfast at 5:30 departure at 6. Sun rises at 6:45 so it will be a rising in darkness and cold yet seeing the sunrise in such a place will be very energizing. We can see the stars well. As good as I never had seen before.
            This small piece of writing is my evening. But I will tuck in early to get some sleep and rest. Do some reiki and hope to catch the last remaining vapors of earthly heat.
            Food is okay but I am really happy about being vegetarian, and having the option too remain as such. My fellows were jealous of my fried egg. They had to ask if it was chicken, turkey or pork in their plates.
            I have found a great community and made friends in Cusco, yet each time a group left for the trekI hade other experiences to make. I do feel lonely, K, but am happy I am making this experience now. Tomorrow will be the biggest day but I am grateful today was hard yet not very taxing.
Official government office
            I wished I could share these moments with someone with whom I already share a meaningful relationship.
            Nonetheless Mike and Patrick (the two Irishmen) are really interesting. They have a spiritual life so we are able to share and connect.
            Others in the group are all francophone, they are fun but remain more removed from my principal interests. I know them not yet.
            I will call it a night now but I believe this loneliness will prompt me to blog again soon.

            Much love, I am happy about this trek yet miss you still

View at the first day camp. on the left the advertisment reads "el placer de sus sueños", understand the place of your dreams.
Day 2, lunch break:

            So we hiked up to the Salkantay sacred point of view. 3 hours of strong hike, 700m up, the last 30 minutes were very hard, had to take a few seconds every 100 m. 15 kilos is quite much at this altitude it would seem. Once up, we stayed just a bit, had a makeshift yet heartfelt apachita ceremony and started down. As I was often first during the climb I found myself taking more time to go down. When going up you need strength motivation, to know how to manage your stamina and should stop seldom for approximatively 20 minutes.

Apachita, a tower or rocks, on top a orange quartz I found on the way, with a quinto (three coca leaves) for thankfulness at the Salkantay glacier.
            When going down it is more about stability, concentration and a touch of grace goes a long way. You can stop whenever you want. So I got quite a lot of pictures from the way down and picked up rocks. Stopped to talk to locals working on the trail, actually gave them cereal bars and nuts as a thanks for keeping the trail practicable. So I ended up last more or less. We departed at 6am at 3900, up to 4600 and now we are at 4000. We will be starting for today’s camp in 30 minutes, walk during which we will permeate the rainforest. Heat and mosquitoes are awaiting. I got bonus love from the group for packing almost all my stuff with me, I am one of the very few with mosquito repellent handy (both chemical and natural, even have the option).

Beginning of the descent into the jungle.
            It will be my first jungle experience in this lifetime. These experiences are great yet sometimes makes me feel old. How come I have never done them before?

Seeming unassuming this place was very powerful.
Understood it as the entrance to the jungle
            Last night was hard, kind of cold too. But emotionally I was confronted with strong loneliness and oddly enough feelings of abandonment. I really miss my friends and I miss the blissful pleasure of sharing romantic love. But there is something else, something from my childhood, something deeper, as if I had lacked something always and this lack, whatever it might be, is actually crawling at me from a deep part of my heart.

Zipline Valley
Somehow this feeling often arised when I am camping or in nature and I don’t really know the people around yet.
I went out in the night and saw the moon strong, the cold silent. Slept well considering the challenge. I am quite happy and a bit dazzled for it is already done the hardest part before lunch of day2/5.
Goofball with a camera.
            Tomorrow is said to be really relax. 6 kilometers and then natural terms in the jungle (sounds great!) but might be afraid of what to do with my spare time. Day four is a small walk compared to day 1 and 2. Plus will sleep in a bed. Zip line too. But I will tell you all of this in details as I go further. I am happy and relieved for I do not feel particularly shot nor do I have sustained injuries. It seems actually easier quite, than what was expected. Probably the 30+ hours of yoga at 3500m have trained me well. We will see how I fare these next days.
            Walking down can be treacherous especially when some have no pack at all, it would be tempting to keep their pace yet we to walk 2000m down over the course of the next days. The 15kilo pack does make a difference.

Day 2 evening:
            Anyways most of my group is preparing for bed.
Hrmmm I might hear a scary story from a neighboring group. I’ll eavesdrop for a bit. Talking about the condenado, a sort of Peruvian lore zombie, it would be a spirit that leaves the grave to incarnate in a living host, often a llama.

Salkantay, 6 hours after we left it.
            The stars are beautiful here, I have not really seen them as well before. I hear there is a closed campsite on the Inca path because a couple that committed incest died together on the site. Ok I m going to join the group to listen to ghost stories…hrm they just finished their stories…
            This afternoon was easier effort wise yet harsher on the system. I’ll tend to my body a bit before going to bed. Ointment, reiki, stretching. It is definitely hotter than yesterday at the same time. I am thinking around 10°c at least, definitely a lot more comfortable. I got to have a shower, wasn’t quite sure about taking one but everybody in my group did so I gave in into peer “pressure”. Tomorrow is 16km not 6km. downhill a thousand meters lower so it might be hard on the system, I should watch out. It will be hot around 24°c the guide told us and humid. Jungle!

footpath bridge!
            That also is apparently a first for me. My oh my do I still have things to do. I find myself lacking concentration. The neighboring group has moved in closed ( I am writing after diner in the common area with the unique light bulb, they moved closer to the light) . They are starting to play Uno and start again one with the stories. I’ll give in and meet them.
            Bonus: I’ll keep writing because it is less awkward than waiting for the end of the story, I don’t want to burst the tension bubble, neither do I want to stare whilst doing nothing. Now I am mostly writing for writing’s sake, not for the words and yet I cannot free myself of the necessity of meaning. Anyways I’ll make my intro soon. Ciao, good night.

Second night camping grounds

Dog with crazy eyes!

I did not write anything on day three or four, I started knowing people better and did not really have time to write so here’s a recollection more like.
The days were long and full so often felt like the same day’s morning was the day before.

Beautiful jungle path alongside an ancient railroad. Secret feeling of primevil nature.
Day 3 we were up at 5:30 and left around 6:30. It was mostly down hill, walking alongside a river, walked the 16 kilometers before lunch and in the afternoon went to the natural terms. It was beautiful they had three pool sized basins with different temperatures, naturally hot and naturally cold showers. Going under a cold waterfall and alterning really cleansed my energies and got my body going for more, perfect mid trek. Also “not touching anything” with my feet was a prime sensation at that time. 

A fragment of the view from the hot springs.

Santa Teresa's natural hot springs

Stayed in water for 2h30, and now that I think of it, it was my first immersion in water since January. Felt awesome. Evening diner and chat with my group, by that time we had a good feeling and had lots of laughs, Juan our guide is really fun. Went to bed reasonably early (10pm).

Rain pillars
Day four was really relaxed, woke up at 7am and went to a zip lining park around 8. We hiked a little 100-150 meters up to get some height and then did 5 lines some lasting 30 seconds. I got to zip seated, flat with arms stretched (with a guide holding me horizontal with my ankles locked in his) and upside down! YEAH! That was lots of fun. 

Life like a breeze!
Then they brought us to hydroelectrica, a place where they generate electricity that goes to the town of Cusco. We had left the cooks behind us and my pack lunch had chicken, exchanged with a friendly Irishman and still remained a few bits (really felt as if they had prepared it with chicken then remembered there was a vegetarian in the group) but there was a cat! So I fed her and then I “had a cat” for 2o minutes! She was really cool too.

Kinda happy there was chicken in my pack lunch.
            Hiked a beautiful riverside 3hour long hike alongside the railroad in jungly fun!

Charming Machu Picchu district!

And arrived at a hostel, a BED and a SHOWER! Luxury. Agua Calientes, the town feeding tourists to Machu Picchu is really weird and interesting!

Walt disney restaurants!

 The main square is surrounded by the Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-Walt-Disney-World-Ride type restaurants. From the main square you can see all the mountains surrounding, very high very steep, the town felt kinda like in a hole in the middle of greeny cliff sides. Had a meal in a restaurant (owned by the trek tour company) and I left the group to call it in earlier. Went to bed.

And Machu Picchu. Oh my crazy love! Next post (or previous post depending on how you read this blog.)

Beautiful, great trek!

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