WHEN DID WE GO: March 23-26, 2018

WHY DID WE GO: Side Trip from Lima, Peru, while on Remote Year

HOW LONG WERE WE THERE: 4 days and 3 nights, the final day being at Machu Picchu

TOUR COMPANY INFORMATION.

We toured with Loki Travel. Though there were definitely aspects of our Loki Travel experience that weren’t perfect, overarchingly, this tour was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!

DAY 1 – CUSCO TO SORAYPAMPA.

Let’s just say, I almost didn’t even start this hike. Our day kicked off with a few hours of a bus ride and when our bus made it’s first stop on day 1, I had stomach flu or food poisoning or whatever the eff it was. I literally was near tears, miserable and my body was shaking. I couldn’t stomach much more than bread and butter at breakfast. And I seriously thought about quitting. Throwing in the towel right then and there. 

But I knew how bad I wanted this and, fortunately, a kind soul gave me their Pepto, while another made me some Ginger tea and helped me to take my mind off of my stomach with a little meditative partner stretching. Fortunately, my symptoms dissipated for the day, thank god. Because, despite the fact that I struggled up our first few hills (oh hey altitude and Ellyn not having great cardio), the next 3 days would challenge me, humble me, and show me some of the most incredible landscapes I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing how when you want something bad enough, we’ll endure a lot to make it happen!

At the end of day 1 of our trek, we were presented with an optional hike up to the lagoon. I kind of wondered, is this actually going to be worth it? Should I rest and let my body heal, even if my stomach seems okay for now? They said it was a simple one hour hike that would be “good training for day 2” of our trek. My first thought? Well, I definitely need the training. And since my stomach symptoms had subsided for the day, I decided to go for it. 

Let’s just say it was a rude awakening. I was kicking myself for all those extra runs I had skipped out on. So many hills and so much fricken up. I was dying and gasping for air, realizing that day 2, by far the hardest day of our hike, was going to be a struggle and a half. Fortunately, the view from the top? Some of the bluest water and greenest greens I’ve ever seen! And the snow capped mountains that surrounded us? Definitely not a bad bonus!

Distance climbed: Approximately 10km (~6 miles) and 700m

DAY 2 – SORAYPAMPA TO CHAULLAY

“I can do hard things.” This was my unofficial mantra for day 2 of our Salkantay trek. It was by far the most difficult, but most rewarding day of our trek!

The day that involved dealing with stomach issues that were back with a vengeance. I was more miserable than I could have possibly comprehended. I tried to take my mind off of my sickness, but honestly, I couldn’t. I didn’t eat because I wasn’t sure what I could stomach. 

Even with all the stomach issues raging inside of me, the altitude sickness that one of the fittest girls in our group nearly collapsed from, etc. we all climbed 3+ hours to the high point of our trek at 4600 meters. All the gasping for air that hiking at altitude requires was worth it to finish off that final ascent. All the beating up my body with another 5+ hours of climbing down to our camp. This whole day was definitely the most humbling experience of my life. The altitude kicked my ass and the stomach issues threatened my sanity. I was sore. My joints hurt. I was hungry, but afraid to eat for fear of upsetting my stomach further. And still…I find myself looking back at this day fondly.

I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of finishing our last accent. I literally got to the point where I was counting my steps, benchmarking my final ascent. “Another 50 steps, Ellyn, and you can rest!”. Couple that with rolling into camp that evening after hiking 27km and damn did I feel accomplished. Add to that all of my fellow hikers, friends and tramily huddled at the top of the hill at the sign indicating that we’d reached Salkantay mountain, I couldn’t have made it through this day without them cheering me on, supporting me, helping me when I got sick. It was the ultimate bonding experience, and damn did I appreciate these people even more! Because amidst all the stomach pains, the feeling like absolute shit, not being able to breathe, etc. We did a very hard thing together. And damn is it amazing to have people to challenge yourself with and to grow with.

Distance climbed: Approximately 27km (~16.5 miles) and 600m of ascent followed by ~1200m of descent.

DAY 3 – CHAULLAY TO SANTA TERESA TO AGUAS CALIENTES

SO, WAS IT WORTH IT?

HELL FREAKING YEAH IT WAS WORTH IT!

Do something that makes you proud is always something I have applied to fitness. Working out hard and eating healthy to make yourself proud because you know hat you’re doing something good for your body. But you know what? Sometimes doing things that make you proud include finally allowing yourself to take that trip or to do that thing that you’ve always wanted or been to scared to do. That’s what this hike ended up representing for me.

This whole trip was a blessing. Great weather. Great people. Great guides. Great views. And hell yeah huge challenges. I think a few years ago I would’ve let the negative parts color the entire trek. The stomach issues. The cold. The altitude. Etc. And I def had my moments where they did this hike. But this experience? I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It wasn’t just about the end result of getting to the ruins and seeing Machu Picchu. It was everything. Every bug bite. Doubt. Frustration. Sore muscle. All of it. I earned the views and the smiles and the excitement.  Each and every one of us did. We survived the Salkantay trek. And damn am I still so proud.

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