Wednesday, April 11, 2012
This morning is brighter and the threat of rain is all but gone. We get up and don’t rush to the bus. We have 10 AM tickets for Waynu Picchu this morning. Waynu Picchu you ask? That’s the name of that pointy mountain at the backside of Machu Picchu. Yes, you can climb it AND there is another city on top of it! So we grab some fruit for breakfast and catch an 8:30 AM bus. Not as long a line today because the long lines are at 5 and 6 AM. By now, most tourists are in the ancient city.
So we get into Machu Picchu about 9 AM, take a few sunlit photos of the place and head for the back where there is a shelter with a roof on it where you wait to enter. Waynu Picchu has two entry times. 10 AM and 2 PM. We have tickets for 10 AM. Only 200 people can enter at each time slot and we had to buy these special passes 6 months ago. They sell out.
Precisely at 10 AM, they open the gate and check our passes. We are about the 10th people in this morning. At first the trail splits in two and we wonder which way to go. But shortly into it, we see the two trails merge back to one. I make a note that the first quarter mile goes downhill and I realize that it will make the last of the hike uphill and I cringe, knowing I will likely be exhausted!
We continue on and the steps prove difficult. The steps vary from 3 inches high to knee height! And add to that the rains of yesterday and before have the trail soaked and nothing has dried up. Elee is having difficulty and tells me to continue on and she will either meet me or see me when I come down. I continue on. Some parts are easy and some parts are extremely steep. Some of the steeper parts have cables on the side to help you pull yourself up. At one point, shortly after a really steep and irregular set of steps, I turn and get a glimpse of Machu Picchu and it is quite the sight!
I finally get near the top and there is a set of benches to rest on. I find a vacant seat and sit for 15-20 minutes, thinking about whether I can go on. This has been a tough climb. Some hikers come down a very steep set of narrow steps with no side rail and tell me the top is right at the top of those steps! Okay, good news! So I get up the courage to climb these steps and I go up, one foot after the other. The trail opens onto a small plateau and the view is fabulous! My camera is thrilled and chirps happily away! But then I look around and realize, this is no city. I’m not at the top!
I see a couple hikers enter a cave and that is the trail ahead. A couple other hikers come out of the cave with wet muddy knees and inform me that is the way to the top and the city. I am so exhausted that the idea of crawling through mud is out of the question. I point my camera up and get a couple shots of the walls of the city. This is the end of the road for me. So I hike back down to the benches on the level below and rest again, thinking it will be a long hike down.
As I’m sitting there, I look up and what a surprise, Elee has just walked up. She sits next to me to also rest and we chat. I am so proud of her for making the effort, knowing her knees and legs are not as good as mine. She wants to know if I made it to the top. I don’t tell her I didn’t, I tell her it’s at the top of those steps I point to. So she gets her second wind and climbs up. I go up with her. We make it to the plateau and we take some photos. I then point out the cave and how to get to the top and she agrees with me, it is too much.
So now it’s time for the hike down. It is very wet and slow to avoid slipping. It takes longer to go down than it did to come up but we make it.
We get back to Machu Picchu, happy and not disappointed that we didn’t get to the top, but happy for what we did do. We take the bus back to Aguas Caliente and the train back to Chinchero. They serve us dinner on the train and he wearily chat about our adventures. Then we take another bus back to Cusco and we check back into the same hotel. We are now on our way home. We get dinner and go to sleep exhausted yet happy!