I had the opportunity to blog about the trek for the Institute of Fundraising – any excuse to boast about how amazing our fundraisers are🙂
So far, we’ve raised around £42,000 (net) to fight MND. And there’s money still coming in.
We’re home now, and the long journey back was, as they say, long.
Our group had a great experience. It was hard work; some climbs which would be difficult had they been in Scotland were made even more so by the altitude, which robbed our breath and slowed our limbs. But at every step we knew that we had the support of friends and family; that we were raising money for a cause so very close to our hearts; and that that money would help those who need it most.
If you’d like to donate, you still can – either to one of the many JustGiving / VirginMoneyGiving pages listed on our Team page, or directly to MND Scotland (please make reference to the Inca Trail Trek): http://www.mndscotland.org.uk/fundraising/donations/
Thank you so much to all those who have donated so far; to Classic Tours, to our tour manager Theo, to our porters and ground crew.
And if you’d like to see the video of our trip, then here it is!
Today we get a 3am wake up call from a cockerel – or it may have been Bill’s phone. We’re not sure. Either way, when we unzip our tents we can see stars properly, for the first time on the trip.
Then we make our way to the gate, in order to queue for it opening as the sky lightens.
For the next few hours we trek along, pace quickened, along more sheer-drop paths, trying to beat sunrise to the Sun Gate. Part of the last ascent is so steep that it has to be done on hands and knees.
But it’s worth it, every step is worth it, when we reach the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu as the sun rises.
We’re excited, we call home, we take a moment. So many people in the group have lost loved ones to Motor Neurone Disease. And it sinks in that we’re here, that we’ve made it.
We later take a tour of Machu Picchu, and celebrate in the town below, but the highlight of this trip is this half hour, where the sun lights the ruined town and mountains below, and we remember why we’re here.
When we arrived in camp last night the mist was down, but in the middle of the night it lifted, to reveal a snow-capped-mountain-vista. It’s beautiful, and helps us forget the cold and the bad night’s sleep.
Today’s start is another very steep ascent, and it’s a relief to stop at the lookout ruin and take in the view, as well as the snack packed for us by our amazing group of porters. A word about porters: any time you think that you’re having a difficult time with the climb, stop and look at one of the porters, racing past you, wearing flip flops and carrying 3 times what you are. Then stop complaining and get on with it.
Today seems to be the group favourite in terms of scenery. Yesterday was mostly about the up, today’s about the down – very hard on the knees, but in between this there are some truly epic views. We’re going through cloud forest, over the last pass, along paths cut into the mountainside with sheer drops to one side, visiting more ruins that look along the entire valley, nearly getting run over by Llamas (ok, maybe that was just me – Sara) over bridges, through tunnels, and eventually down a dramatic zig-zag path to camp.
It’s an early night again tonight… because it’s a very early day tomorrow. But before bed, we get the chance to say thank you properly to our porters, guides & cook team, who have taken care of us so well. Thank you!
Most of us slept quite well last night, despite the snoring…
It’s a hard start today, but we see both hummingbirds and waterfalls which is a lovely distraction! With each few metres the views become more beautiful, which is good because today is going to be Very Difficult.
The place we stop for lunch is the last place on the trek that we can buy anything from the locals, and it’s unsurprising, as the next main part of this trail is Dead Woman’s Pass, which sits at 4200 metres above sea level.
It’s difficult. It’s high, and steep, and difficult. The first arrivals at the top of the pass start to fly a saltire, which spurs on the middle section, who reach the top and start flying the MND Scotland banner, and cheer in the rest of the group. Then it’s a long (and cold) descent to camp 2, which is both the highest and coldest camps. And has midges!
Our tour leader Theo says that not all groups wait for everyone at the top, but I’m glad that ours did – not only did we get a great picture at the top but it’s wonderful to be able to cheer everyone on. It’s a fairly emotional climb…
Early start today, and on the bus to Ollantaytambo, where we stopped for a very quick coffee before heading to the Inca Trail start line.
It was a deceptively easy start, followed by a sharp ascent and then a valley and another sharp ascent towards camp.
There are Inca ruins dotted all the way along the trek, and today we saw a couple of great examples. We also got a taste of just how dramatic the scenery was going to be for this trip. Mountains appearing, swathed in mist and then drenched in sunlight.
When we get to camp it gets dark remarkably quickly. It’s an early night for us all, as we’re still relatively floored by the altitude, never mind the weariness of having walked all day…
Today’s the last day we get to get used to the altitude – and it’s certainly been worth the extra days we’ve spent here. It’s easier to get up stairs, we can walk faster, and feel generally better.
With no activities planned for the day, the group was free to wander around Cusco, do a bit of shopping, and generally relax. Some of us went horseriding, others went cycling, some visited the Inca museum and the Cathedral.
Tonight we got our duffle bags for the trek, which can weigh no more than 8kg – and that’s including sleeping bag.
Our bus leaves tomorrow at 06.30am – and then we’ll be on the trail for four days. Our highest point will be 4200 metres. Two of our number have never camped before. This will by no means be an easy trip. But most importantly, we’ve raised over 41k and there’s still money to come in. Thank you all, who have sponsored, supported and encouraged us.
Here’s what we’ll be doing:
We’ll see you when we get back…
As we’re starting to get used to the altitude, it was time to get a taster of the kind of terrain we’ll be trekking. We headed to the Sacred Valley, around the town of Pisac, for a short trek and a visit to a community project.
The scenery here is, as you might expect, spectacular. However what the group seems to have enjoyed most so far was the community visit, where we got to meet the locals, eat their food (including Guinea Pig, or Cuy as it’s called) and see their work in traditional textiles.