“The following morning was MACHU PICCHU DAY! We awoke before 5 a.m., packed up and walked to the train station.” Jess said, “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a train.” Becca recounts, “The ride was about two hours long, lovely, following the river and winding into the valley between the old rock giants. Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Pueblo) features a stunning view of the mountains and beautiful bridges over the river. Unfortunately, it also featured a bucketload of tourists. Since we both have a low tolerance for those who destroy things and disrespect culture, we avoided the overcrowded, overcharging buses going to the ruins by deciding to hike. This included 2.5 hours, a 1,500’ elevation change, and the 4 miles of beautiful trail that was a rock stairs carved into the mountainside. “
With this decision, they each enjoyed some alone time and found the hike to be an amazing experience. “I could see the ruins growing farther and farther away as I climbed the endless rocky stairs to the top. Occasionally I met a hiker going down and sent word back to Jess. For about an hour, I was with a mom and her two young sons, an interesting perspective. They were obsessed with touching every rock because it was ‘ancient.’
Hiking alone, I felt this amazing clarity. I was hot and tired but there was something about the feel of the rocks under my fingers and the strange plants overhanging the trail. I felt like I was walking amongst ancient magic. Perhaps those little boys weren’t so wrong after all. There was also this sense of connection to my fellow hikers like we all survived it; we all experienced the same amazing beauty; we were all, if only for a moment, on another plane together. I met a guy from Oregon at the top and we both marveled at the 360 view.
“Arriving at the park entrance felt like arriving at the gates of Disneyland so Jess and I moved quickly through the crowds toward Machu Picchu Mountain. Our second hike of the day was more rock stairs trail for another 1,500’ elevation change, and nearly 3 hours and 5 miles more this time. Within the first 20 minutes, we stopped and wolfed down our lunches before beginning again. We spent the rest of the day meandering through the ruins. The ruins were a different game because there were tourists from all over the world trying to get the perfect photo.
“My favorite part of the day was actually when we arrived back at the trailhead and sat on the rocks for a little while. I got to close my eyes, breathe in the cold air, and talk to God and all those other spirits that seem so close in moments of tranquility. We returned to Aquas Calientes to eat dinner and wait for our 9 o’clock bus. The following morning we awakened late, showered, packed, ate a solid meal, and said goodbye to Ollantay Tambo.
“We returned to Cuzco for another day to try new foods in the market and buy a few souvenirs. We spent the last hours of New Year’s Eve in a cab, a plane, and two airports. At midnight in Lima, we hugged and Jess ran to catch her flight. As always, when two soul-mate friends part, we were saddened by the farewell, but grateful for the visit.”
So what did you do for excitement today? Hmmm. Guess I’ll go take a nap! God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”