Salkantay Trek: 5d 4n

Space

I love hiking,
I think it’s very clear and understandable why I love hiking, if one knows my personality
I picture myself walking with nature, a single bubble around myself
Walking with a purpose, a final endpoint
Yet granted with the luxury of Time for daydreaming,
punctuated by the occasional bouts of pain from a blister or a toenail to draw me back to reality
How therapeutic
I can picture my future self, stressed with the need to escape, and turning to this avenue for a breather
You are rewarded so long as you keep moving
I like that idea
(As long as I don’t let myself feel pressured by the imaginary expectations of others)

 

I woke up at 3am, snoozed till about 3,30am so I could gather at 4am, the meeting time. I clumsily pressed the stop button so my alarm would stop ringing; little did I know it’d be the last of it I’d see (for these few days). Strangely after I was done packing, with contacts only in one eye – the other is too sensitive at this time of the day – I realise I couldn’t find my phone, couldn’t find it anywhere either, not in my bag, not when I went back into the room, thrice. I wonder if it’s because I could see only from my right eye; it’s usually reliable. But i really couldn’t find it – the most likely suspect now is my backpack which I’ve kept in the storage room. Frankly, it does worry me quite a bit, weighing on me since morning. I tried to think what’s the most precious thing I have in it – in its broken state, what it holds of value is some of my photos (though I have more), and most importantly my notes, the ones recorded in my pure state. I hope I get it back. But if I don’t, here’s my past few days: (though it really won’t be the same)
– Puno – Arequipa – cusco
Love cusco and their integration with nature. Walking along the streets, seeing the inca ruins
Poignant reminder that these are real – history’s increasing relevance to me
Stones silently watching, unchanged, as generations after generations slide down the rocks
Pacha mama – ayewashca – coca leaves
San Pedro – it looks for you, not the other way round
Kintu –  3 coca leaves, prayings and offerings
Cerveza – offer first to pacha mama and parents that passed
Mountain sacrifices in the past
Elongated skulls to indicate royalty
President was japanese ???
The sound of the river stream rushing by
The silence of the valleys, of the hills
Coca leaves – something rooted in their tradition, yet threatened to be banned by international bodies that are the ones that deny it.

-Day 1 of Salkantay begins!!

The first day was alright – I don’t remember much (already), but we basically walked uphill a little, then flat. It was alright, easier than Batur.
Woke up at 3+, reached breakfast site perhaps 630++, had breakfast, started our hike at 8?
We reached the tent site at about 1+ or 2pm for lunch; lunch was delicious, had hot drinks and llama meat and avocado with meat in it, and mashed potato – satisfying indeed. After lunch some of us hiked up to the lagoon; about an hour to 1.5hrs up. Optional, I went because it was only 3pm and I was far too restless to let my day end like this; The day hike was surprisingly short. Did 6 hours really pass by?? Didn’t feel like it.
We stopped several times on the way, I thought my guide’s pacing was good, it was manageable. We were well rested. I realise I like hiking alone, with my own space, like a bubble. Just me walking relentlessly, my feet upon nature, with the grandeur of the mountains next to me, the sound of the running stream, my stick clacking in rhythm as I slowly ascend. Me and my head, me and my thoughts. It’s therapeutic.

I suppose what I like is simply blanking out and letting my mind wander. Maybe that’s why I like long bus rides where I can dawdle and do nothing.
By the time I got down, sat on the grass and chatted a little with the girls in my group, and came back it was about 6. Served popcorn and biscuits for tea break, then served dinner shortly after. Life is good.
I love sleeping in a tent. In a big, spacious comfy tent. I suppose I associate it with a bubble around my World. I can listen to the world outside, but I can reside happily, anonymously, in mine.
About 545pm – my first night of the salkantay trek ends.

I’m actually a little nervous about tomorrow’s 21km if I let myself think about it. The supposedly ‘hardest’ day. But then I think about Agung and I think, can it really be harder than that??? Batur and agung?? I still take Agung as one of the best things I’ve done in life.

 

I also had a thought last night: when I was showering I heard some knocking above me. Frankly, it scared me because it was dark, and the shower curtain was around me, reminding me of a movie scene. But later I asked myself, alright, what’s the worst that can happen, I shall just keep calm. After all, I’m alive, and no matter what that’s the most important – that I’m alive. In that sense I’m more afraid of humans now, I really am. It’s another mark of growth

Day 2: Supposedly 21kmThis was supposedly the toughest day of the trek.

It wasn’t, though. I was pretty nervous after reading the reviews, but.. the expectations I suppose, made it more manageable than i expected. The toughest part was the optional bit, where we could hike for another hour up to see a lake. Some people rested in their tents for that bit. It was, however, a gorgeous day.

Photos from days 2 / 3:


The lake!

Day 3

 

Sat on the roof of the truck and got scratches
— 345 took bus to hor springs
On the bus – they were playing all these music in the car
And we rolled along the side of the mountain
Pass waterfalls, pass streams
Everyone singing along
I thought, how do I freeze this moment?
I thought about how my trip was ending, I was down to my final few days in South America
When am I coming back? How do I feel this way again?
I know there’s many things that contribute to the way I feel that I can’t get back in the future
My age, my milestone
My first
My youth, my freedom
My lack of responsibilities
Could I really backpack Central America when I have a family? Central Asia? Africa? I had all these plans that I formulated in the lpst months
In 5 years’ time I would do a big trip, I decided
Already I have decided
Nicely planned, by then I’ll have finished my bond with a bonus to spare
5 years!!!!!!
And when I’m back I’ll cook my Singaporean dishes well, know how to formulate an app, desserts and calligraphy
I was so young, and I’m glad I’m actually so young–

Day 4
Night 3 we had a ‘party’ with inca tequilas and Latin American music
I woke up at 2am to the moanings coming from the tent next to mine. And erm. Jamie unzipping my sleeping bag and crawling into mine. I’ve heard stories of hostel sex and all, but this was quite a first – unabashed, almost. Amused, I tried to sleep, but was occasionally awaken by the noise. Eventually I fell asleep and morning came, and Jamie woke up surprised to find himself here.
Day 4 was lovely. And came so quick. Day 4 morning we had a birthday cake because it was Christina’s birthday. She had taken leave from her work to come on this trek, her 47th birthday gift. I think about the story Andre told us, about how the couple had climbed all the way up to the sun gate and the mum had a box with the ashes of her son. Machu Picchu is such a.. Special place, a sacred place, and one that holds such unique meanings to people, where people from all over the world come to possibly fulfill one of their dreams, to see the world-famous ancient ruins. It’s quite amazing, when one thinks about the number of tourists the stones have stood witness to. Inca trail requires booking more than 4 months in advance. Really.

 

Day 4 morning was zip lining. I went with another tour company – the one the trek was advertising seemed reliable m, with their equipments which they tout as of certified excellence, and costs 90 soles (~30usd) for 5 ziplines. Not sure how much I paid with Loki hostel. I reached my zipline site a little nervous, augmented by the fact that a nervous British girl was saying how this looked so disorganized and old compared to what she had in Costa Rica. After a short explanation the first lesson went down, then eventually me. See everytime I get so nervous i question myself – WTF am I doing and who is this person, why I am doing this, why – first zipline I put my left hand on top of the lock, then my right, and with a slight nudge I was off, swinging along a single cable, my legs dangling above the rocky stream below, along the valleys, I closed my eyes then I opened and stared in amazement then I closed again and then I opened again and I was there at the other end
Squealing with breathless excitement inside
I clambered upwards for my second zipline
The instructor grinned, that was good yes? Yes it was, mis primers vez, I said, beaming
Second one, I flew above the trees, the valleys
It felt awesome

 

Third one they called for ‘superman’ volunteers, so I did
I had to lean forward and tuck both legs between his
This time I couldn’t hold on to the cable, so that was scary
But this was of course the best
Because I was like a bird
Looking down on the view
Could flap my hands if I wanted
I suppose this is the closest I’ll be to skydiving
It felt really great, I can still remember the view
And then I reached the end

5 ziplines, drove back, drove to hydroelectric place, had lunch
Hiked 3 hours more to aguas calientes along the train tracks
I had read about this, I thought
It was a therapeutic walk, carrying my things and just walking nonstop on an almost flat plane
I liked that bit
Lunch at 1244pm
3 hours up
4 hours down today
Total = 7 hours
43km
Came down at about 440
If you ask me, I would much rather lie in bed and think of you
So I get those feelings and tinglings
I wonder if you think of me as much as I think of you
It comes in random moments, but particularly when the music plays
I suppose with music the mood carries with it that tinge of infinity, freedom and fleetingness, all meshed into one ball that tickles the corners of my heart
It comes, the knowing that every moment that passes is my final moments in this place
I feel – should I say I feel terribly sad? I feel terribly sad, but not ‘terrible’ – I feel sorrowful, but not ‘sorrowful’ – I feel sad, but sad is not the word apt for it. I’m not quite ready to leave. I want to add that ‘but I am’, and I realise i really am not. I could stay a month more or two, or three, or four, I’m certain. There’s still so much I’ve yet to see. When I go back this chapter closes, and another of mine begins.

DAY 5:

Today was the hardest for me. It was steps, endless steps, and I couldn’t go up the steps relentlessly without stopping. That’s normal I know, but there’s a part of me that’s frustrated at myself, like why can the rest go up without stopping and I can’t? It makes me feel weak…….
Eli said it was considered a hard trek. I feel like I don’t know, because I have only done Agung to set the standard. I think in general it was alright, I could do tougher.
I counted 1645 steps

I was so excited when I saw this signTomorrow I would be seeing:

Other things and memories I love about the trek:

I like the flowers / I love the daffodils / I like the mountains / I love the rolling hills 🎵 I also like avoiding passing horses, grazing cows and the occasional mud-splashing truck with my (now) blistered feet. In harmony with Pachamama, soaking in the Andean history and philosophy

 

 

 

 

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