Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone...The Trek to Machu Picchu

Hi Everyone! It's Amelia again serving as today's guest blogger! I saw this picture today and I could not find a better way to summarize my winter class in Peru...

I stepped way outside my comfort zone to be a part of the amazing adventure that was my winter term class in South America.

As soon as I landed in Cuzco I found myself and 6 other classmates had our luggage missing. I was the only person in the group that knew a lick of Spanish and I quickly had to start translating documents and telling everyone where to fill out their information and where to sign. I had to step up my Spanish game much faster than I anticipated. Once all the paperwork was filled out and submitted there was nothing else to do but to go find our professor at the hostel. The luggage debacle lasted for awhile, but we were all EXTREMELY fortunate and received our luggage the night before we left at 3:45am to start our expedition to Machu Picchu.

Hiking the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu was the most challenging, terrifying, exciting, breath-taking, rewarding thing I have ever done. I am a relatively active person. I try and run 3-4 miles everyday with a minimum 4 times a week. I really love to be outdoors and work here at Yesteryear Acres. I thought the hike would be hard, but I had NO idea how hard it would be. I have never hiked with a backpack before and it was just unlike anything I have ever done before! First off I was sick before I even left for Peru. I was still taking antibiotics for a sinus/upper respiratory infection and therefore I wasn't excelling at the whole breathing thing. Let alone breathing with only 60% oxygen at our altitude! Secondly we were all going into the trek with basically no sleep. The night before was New Year's Eve and our whole class went to the square to watch the fireworks and run the circle for good luck. (When in Peru do as the Peruvians do!)
I know that I went to bed at 2am and was up by 3:05am to leave. I did not sleep on the bus ride there as it was super bumpy and curvy as we went up mountains. I also didn't sleep on the train because it was so beautiful out the window. I was just so excited and anxious for what the day was going to bring.
Our official start!

Here I am with the Professor's Daughter at the very beginning of the hike. Notice our layers...

We hiked and hiked and hiked some more. We hiked from 7:20am to 2:30pm. luckily we took some breaks to enjoy the views!

Here is my class relaxing by a waterfall while we wait for the rest of our group to catch up (Notice layers are slowly disappearing)

Proof we made it to the waterfall!
There were a BAZILLION stairs made out of stones that the Incas had made. They were so tall that you had to jump/ lunge up the step and then take two steps before attempting the next one. A lot of the trail you are clinging to the left side so that you don't go falling off the mountain. I am terrified of heights so that made the adventure even more interesting. Some of the bridges we had to cross not only took my breath away because of the beauty and lack of oxygen, but also because I was terrified! The altitude also made things very interesting. I've never been so out of breath my entire life. I had to use my hands a lot to get up the stairs. One set of stairs towards the Sun-gate are called the gringo killers and I literally had to crawl on my hands and scale the stairs. I kept laughing because it reminded me of the scene in children's movie Eldorado where the guys are climbing all those stairs and basically die at the top. It was. Just. Like. That. I'm not even exaggerating one bit. My legs were twitching like crazy. The views were breathtaking and indescribable. We saw so many rare orchids and plants and a ginormous violet looking butterfly. The trek made Machu Picchu so much more powerful to me. As if I earned the right to see it. We had to cross 3 mountains to get to Machu Picchu and our guides said we were a really fast group. They had originally  expected us to arrive around 5pm.  I had many thoughts roll in and out of my mind as I hiked. Like "how did the Incas build all these stairs?" "If I had to go down the mountains every time to get water I would be motivated to figure out an aqueduct system too!" I was so proud of myself for doing the whole hike and keeping a smile on my face because I was able to enjoy the little things around me. 

Here are a few pictures from the hike.

I am the bright blue backpack behind the lime green pack in front of me
I'm the blue backpack at the "top" of the stairs... it is an illusion. Trust me there are more stairs as we turn the corner.... 
I am behind the girl in the orange sweater on the small bridge
Some Inca temples and terraces! Getting closer!!
Our first view of Machu Picchu! Only an hour left to go!

I knew that I could do anything I put my mind to. And that proved to continue on my adventure! Such as....

Exploring Machu Picchu the next day

I am the sandboarder in the middle coming down the dune 

I'm on the left! :)

And so much more!!! 

Stay tuned in tomorrow for more on my crazy Peruvian Adventure! 

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