Location: Ollantaytambo

The first day was waking up at 5:30, at least it wasn’t to the sound of Max banging on my door. Getting up was a struggle as usual. Jack and I were first to breakfast, and people were coming in one by one each looking more tired than the rest. Breakfast was good: eggs, yogurt, and toast were good to start the day off. Avery decided to eat Oreos for breakfast and it was very odd. Ronald, our tour guide, showed up and we left the hostel at 6:45 to begin our trek up the mountain. It was cold out and I decided I didn’t need pants because the cold wouldn’t bother me that much (bad mistake). The sun still wasn’t fully risen, yet the streets were full of people starting their days. The day pack I carried consisted of a 2.5-liter bottle of water, my lunch and assorted snacks for the group such as crackers, granola bars, and passion fruit. We neared the entrance to the trail and I knew we had a long way ahead of us considering the hike was estimated at 6 hours in total. As we started hiking the sun started to shine on the peaks and it was a great view. I couldn’t wait until the sun was on us so it would warm us up and I wouldn’t be cold anymore. As the hike progressed and the sun rose higher in the sky, we took a 2-minute break to apply sunscreen, put on hats and take off our sweaters.

Max and I quickly took the lead of the group and were far ahead from everyone else. After about one hour we took a break at a little hut and took group pictures. As we took our break for pictures, Ronald was telling us some facts about the surrounding mountains/area. I sat down on a rock to look at the view, and I didn’t realize my backpack had hit a cactus that was behind me. As I turned the cactus fell over and next thing I knew Ronald was pulling cactus needles out of my arm while explaining how painful this cactus can be (not a fun experience). As we hiked higher, there were markers on the side of the trail that marked our altitude in kilometers. It marked 1.5; we were about 1/3 the way up. We ended up all resting for 10 minutes at a flat area that Incas mined for rocks at. There were many large boulders in the surrounding area so Max and I decided to climb up one about 20 feet high. On the way up I see Max stop moving suddenly and I realize he had a cactus just like mine in his shin. He pulled it out and we made it to the top to see a beautiful view.

Afterwards, we continued on with the hike, and Max and I were very far ahead of the group and we decided to take a shortcut between the trail that saved us 5 minutes of switchback trail. Max and I reached the peak of our hike and sat looking at the views for 30 minutes before the rest of the group caught up. Everyone ate our packed lunches on top of the mountain which was a old Incan quarry/burial ground. We had a siesta for 30 minutes. Max and I decided to split off of the group once again and we climbed the massive boulders that surrounded us for the siesta time we had left. The group regathered and Ronald took us up a small path to an Incan tomb. There were hundreds of bones of humans in the tomb, and it was very interesting.

We started to make our way down from the 3 kilometer peak, and it was a slow descent. Max and I cut between trails and a short while later the group and I had made it to the bus to end our long trek. It was a very fun hike despite the intense workout due to the altitude. Mom and Dad, I miss you! And I will call soon.