by Erin Elaine
I’ve wanted to do the Inca Trail ever since I first heard about it in 2010. This June I finally got to do it! I was especially proud that I made it without hiring an extra porter, as most people do.
This is the 4-day trail I hiked, though this image doesn’t really illustrate the elevation changes.
After the first day, most of the trail is either ascent or descent. You go up one mountain and start heading down, only to find another mountain to climb. Some people fly down hills but I go cautiously because I know most hiking injuries happen while going down hills.
I signed up alone, and 4 other strangers also signed on with Quechuas Expeditions for my departure date, but they all ended up cancelling. So, it was just myself and my guide. It was kind of strange being the only tourist, but it also meant I could set my own pace without being rushed and without feeling guilty for holding others back. I’m a slow hiker, but that didn’t matter on this trip!
See my previous post: What you need to know before you hike the Inca Trail
Here are my pictures from the first day of the 4 day hike.
We started the day in Cuzco about 2 hours before sunrise, and drove for a little over 2 hours to where we began the trail. The trailhead is called Piscacucho.
On the first day, the trail was mainly dirt and gravel. There weren’t very many stairs. (That changed on the second day.)
The first few miles were pretty flat and easy, but before long the heat started getting to me, and I slowed down a lot. In Washington the hottest part of the day is 3 or 4pm, so I’m used to being on the way back down or finished before the heat gets bad. But near the equator, the hottest part of the day is 12pm, which was right in the middle of our hiking day. It sapped my energy quickly.
We passed through a village called Waylabamba. It’s a collection of about 20-30 old shacks. There is no electricity, and the mountain stream is their water source. It’s the last residential area on the entire hike.
Finally made it to camp! I was already starting to notice the altitude change. It was taking me longer to catch my breath than normal. I was very tired after the long day, but thankfully not sore. I had a delicious hot meal and went straight to bed, although it was already pretty cold and dark right after dinner.
Day 1 – Piscacucho to Ayapata (13km/8mi, 550m/1800ft elevation gain)