You know that feeling when you wake up tired? That was Day 5.
Our training had been paying off, but the problem with training in a gym, or by running is that you train for an hour or two each day. During our journey we had been hiking on average 6 to 8 hours a day, and there is no good way to train for that without taking additional vacation time – which neither of us had.
The biggest issue with waking up tired on Day 5, was that it was going to be our longest and most taxing day of the entire trek. It was only ten miles, but it would take us an estimated 11 hours as we had two mountain passes to hike up and over.
The first pass was Dead Woman’s Pass at 13,779 feet. Then back down the other side to our lunch spot at 11,700 feet. The second pass was Runkuracay pass at 13,123 feet and back down again to our camp site. On a dirt trail this would not have been so demanding, but now that we were on the Inca Trail which is paved in stones and carved stairs it was downright punishing. Our knees are still sore almost a week later.
We stayed at the top of Dead Woman Pass long enough for a few photos, and an army of porters to pass us. We had been warned that morning at breakfast that the porters will be running down the hill and that they have the right of way on the trail. They will not stop or slow down for a mere tourist. Get out of their way!
After lunch we started hiking again and stopped to explore this small ruin which was also named Runkuracay. It was a checkpoint / lookout for the Inca. As were were admiring the views we heard what sounded like a very loud, very low flying air plane. Our guide’s eyes went wide as he clued into what it was we were hearing. “RAIN!” He yelled. “Rain gear go go go!” And in less than 10 seconds were were in the middle of a nasty rain and hail storm. The granite stairs in front of us became slippery and treacherous, but there was no way to go other than up. Slowly we began to climb in the rain, testing the footing of every rock before trusting it. If we had not been tired before, we certainly were now.
We made it across the pass and down the other side at a snail’s pace. As we were reaching the bottom of the valley we hiked out of the clouds onto a delightful spring day. Thankfully it cleared enough for us to enjoy the Chaquicocha ruins. Another overlook / outlook point situated right above our campsite for the night.
We slept like baby alpaca that night!