After resting for a couple days we were feeling ready to attack the Salkantay. After some initial confusion with our guide company and trying to figure out what we were allowed to bring (yah we used donkeys and porters, sue us). It was another early start and sketchy bus ride to our starting point. One sign of what we hoped not to come was the second our bus stopped for us to begin the trek, one guy rushed off the bus to throw up… not a great start. The first day was easy hiking wise, it was only about 10km with very little elevation gain. Good practice for the next day.
However the gem of day one was that after lunch we did the hour long hike up to Humantay Lake, one of the prettiest lakes in the world if you ask me, though that list is getting real long. Nestled at the bottom of Humantay mountain is a perfect crystal blue lake and I mean how do you beat that. The hike was tough but the view was incredible and we spent most of the afternoon up there. Dinner was good and started with a soup (as every meal but breakfast did for the whole trip, soup and I are on better terms than ever before), then a high carb meal and always ended with a tea, usually coca tea. Yes coca tea is the same plant that is used to manufacture cocaine, but we were using it for its altitude and headache helping properties, not the Wolf of Wall Street purposes.
That night we all froze our asses off in the tents that are provided, I’m not usually a guy who sleeps in clothes but if I didn’t, this blog would have needed a new author. A real perk was that we were awoken at 5am with a knock on the tent and a steaming hot cup of coca tea, now thats a way I’d like to start are my mornings! We had a quick breakfast and were hiking by 6:20am. We had been warned that the first 3 hours were going to be only uphill and that we were going to gain about 800m of elevation ended at a peak elevation of 4600masl at the Salkantay pass. The going was slow but everyone was cruising, it was definitely quiet and you could only hear the steady breathing of everyone as we just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The final 200m of elevation gain was done quickly as we headed up to the pass and the scenery was amazing, nothing like hiking in a valley surrounded by 6000m+ mountains.
We got to our max elevation by about 10am and then the descent was epic, 1000m of elevation loss to our lunch point. I was walking like a zombie by the time we hit the lunch tent, completely spent. Then we were told that our camp for the night was another 1000m below us. 3 hours of downhill hiking really put a beating on my knees and Becca was using hiking poles but I don’t think she faired much better. We were happy to get to our final camp which was at about 2600masl and the air felt so thick! We were also just beginning the jungle portion of our trek. Becca and I shared a well deserved beer with dinner that night and we all slept much better being in a warmer climate and also being totally exhausted. Day 2 was approximately 22km of hiking, 800m of elevation gain and then 2000m of elevation loss, a pretty full day if you ask me! Good thing day 3 included a hot spring!