Day 2: The “WTF was I thinking” Day
Trek from Wayllabamba to Pacaymay (hike thru Dead Woman’s Pass) 6.8miles (11km)
We were warned the night before by our guide Ernesto that Day 2 was the hardest day. He explained we’d be going uphill for the majority of the day and then immediately once we were to reach Dead Woman’s Pass (highest elevation on the trek 13,828 ft) we’d have to hike on “Gringo steps” (small steps not meant for westerners large feet) downhill for 2 more hours. I was pretty nervous as I went to bed that night, but realized I had no other option, it WAS happening, and it was time to strap on my party pants!
We woke up to a knock on our tent at 5:30am with porters handing us coca tea to get us ready for the change in elevation that day. A great wake up call if you ask me! Breakfast was once again amazing and after we ate we started trekking at 7am. The first part of the trek was a pretty steep incline uphill, but somewhat manageable. We stopped at a small Inca Ruin earlier in the morning and after that we noticed the trek started to go straight up hill. It was really challenging, but we knew it was only going to get harder after our break to hike up to Dead Woman’s pass.
We hit the break site and the views were incredible!! Local ladies were selling water and snacks and our guide told us that this was the last time we’d get water from local ladies selling water bottles and that the rest of the water would be boiled and given to us during meals. The porters set up a tent for us (it was HOT outside) and we had snacks under the shade of the tent and caught our breath. I was exhausted already, but the break helped me gather my bearings and get my mind set to climb an even tougher part of the trek.
After the snack break was the most dreaded part of the trail. Uphill and vertical for what seemed like ages. We started up the hill or should I say massive mountain and hiked up inca steps up the cliff the entire time. Luckily I fell in line with 2 girls from my trek (1 Canadian and 1 British girl) and we took it slow together and stopped every 30 feet or so. The altitude really started kicking in right after we left the break spot and every few steps we’d have to stop and catch our breath, eat some snacks or coca candies, and sit down on rocks. I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything so physically demanding in my life, but I told myself that any time I got tired or out of breath that I could look around and enjoy the view instead of forcing myself to keep going. That in itself pushed me along. It took a while to get up to the top, and it took A LOT of will power, but we tried to be lighthearted and make jokes and take pictures the whole time to make the trek up more enjoyable.
We are smiling here, but our legs are jelly. 🙂
FINALLY we reached the top of Dead Woman’s Pass! It felt like it took a million years to get up there, but boy did it feel good to make it to the top. The fog had rolled in right as we got to the top, so it was extremely cloudy/rainy and foggy and we all bundled up in our jackets and paused for a quick minute to get photos at the Summit before our 2 hour trip downhill.
Then it was downhill for about 2 hours and man was it hard! They don’t call it ‘gringo killer’ for nothing. It was straight down hill on steps for what seemed like years. I was extremely grateful for my trekking poles at this point because they supported me on the different jagged rocks and small steps. Whereas hiking to the top took major endurance, hiking down took agility. I can’t tell you which one I hated more 🙂
The good news though? The views on the way were INCREDIBLE!! Hiking through places that not many people get to see in their lifetime was what kept me going the entire time.
We finally made it to our camp site for a late lunch and all of us practically died. We ate lunch and all immediately went and took naps in the tent until dinner.
I talk a lot above about how much I died and how tired I was, but it was all SO SO worth it! The pros definitely outweighed the cons and I don’t want to discourage anyone who wants to do the hike. Yes, the 2nd day is as hard as everyone says, but it’s an experience that you really can’t top!