4 In Archaeology + History/ Hiking + The Outdoors/ Peru/ Travel

Inca Trail- Struggling Through Day Two

Everyone I’ve talked to who has done the Inca Trail says that day two is the hardest of the Inca Trail. This is the day that you hit the highest point of the trail at a whopping 13,829 ft! We felt every bit of that as we struggled to breathe up the mountain. Three of us hiked together, taking about 50-100 steps (depending on how high we were) then taking a brief breathe break. 



When we woke up early the second morning I was tired, sure, but I was really happy to have woken up in the mountains. I was a little less excited when it was pointed out to me that we were hiking to “the nipple”. (The high point of the trail is called Dead Woman’s Pass because it looks like a woman laid on her back, topless- hence, “the nipple”.)


We started off strong and excited to see what was ahead of us. This was the day that we realized just how hard it was to breathe at this elevation. Sure, day one had its moments where catching our breath was more difficult and we weren’t hiking as fast as normal, but this was the day that I felt every single step. 


We made an early morning crossing over the river on this very rustic bridge! (You can tell it was early because I don’t look like I might cry at this point! Ha!)

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Day two took us into the Cloud Forest which was a really nice change of scenery, not that the mountains were hard to look at.  IMG_8824 IMG_8825 IMG_8829 IMG_8835 IMG_8837 IMG_8838 IMG_8840

The only hummingbird we saw on the trail. This guy was quick!

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Getting closer to Dead Woman’s Pass with a clear view of “the nipple” IMG_8848 IMG_8850

We made it! Jojo (our amazing new friend from D.C.), Stacey and I made it to the top. It was a struggle, but also a moment of joy and accomplishment!

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From the top, it was a long way down lots and lots and lots of steps. These steps aren’t your normal steps (which would be bad enough) they’re uneven, misshapen, stone steps laid out centuries ago! But we were so relieved to be going downhill that it didn’t even matter!


Mark Adams said it well in his book Turn Right At Machu Picchu, “The Inca trail is like the narrative of Alice in Wonderland– dreamlike and open to interpretation. In which case crossing Dead Woman’s Pass was the moment we fell down the rabbit hole.  Things only got strange from this point forward.” Day three was a completely different day. It was a weird day for me, personally, the mood and pace of the trip changed, and we were officially in the Upper Amazon. Talk about falling through the rabbit hole- I WAS IN THE AMAZON!



We were the last to make it to camp, but I was totally okay with that. We took our time, had plenty of moments to look back and enjoy the view, and we didn’t wear ourselves out to the point that we were miserable. We did it in the perfect time for us.


We didn’t make it to happy hour, but we did enjoy our amazing dinner, and we got to see this spectacular sunset over the Andes. I mean, does it get any better than this?


Things I Loved About Day Two:

✴︎ I truly enjoyed taking in the ever-changing views from this day

✴︎ I loved walking off the trail to stand on a stone in the middle of the river to take some photos

✴︎ I loved making new friends on the trail. We got to know Jojo, who was really great, and we made friends with a pair of Italian sisters as we took turns passing each other- one was doing it without a porter, I was seriously impressed.

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  • Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    These broad mountain photos are making me reminise. I’m not quite sure which trailed we treked (it was part of the Inca trail) but not sure which of the section (we didn’t visit machu picchu that’s all I definitely know). But I remember the height and the altitude and the views!

    • Reply
      October 30, 2014 at 9:35 am

      It was so incredible! You were so right about the altitude, it was such a struggle for us. I felt like I was in pretty good shape going into it, but it was just so hard to breathe way up there! I would love to chat Peru with you… Guess I’m just going to have to come to England, huh?

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