If Day 1 was the nice warm up to the Inca Trail, day 2 was definitely the main event. Again the route was only 12km from Wayllabamba to Pacamayu but the terrain was tough and it took in the highest point of the trail.
We woke and had breakfast in the camp whilst the porters packed up our tents and once ready we set off for the days hiking. This began with a fairly steep stretch up towards the check point to leave the campsite. By this point we had all already started stripping off layers and it was a sign of things to come.
The first half of the ascent is through forested area so you are well protected from the sun and it does help to keep things a little cooler. This is good news because the steps are huge and some I was almost having to jump up- YAY for having really short legs!! It is all really green and beautiful and passes alongside waterfalls making for a picturesque walk. Ever since the lower part of the trail we were just advised to hike in our own time and stop when it opened up and we came upon the porters, who were all clearly miles ahead of us because they walk so fast, making our “second breakfast”. The lunch stop was the last little community we would come across on the route so we had to stock up on any last minute supplies and use the last fairly decent toilet we would see until we reached Machu Picchu.
From here we began the most challenging part of the trek up to Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,215m (13,776ft). As you make your way up to the highest point it is steep and exposed although the altitude was no where near as obviously difficult as it was at Rainbow Mountain, I don’t know whether that was because it was much lower or I was more acclimatised though. The uphill begins to feel never-ending and although you can see the pass at times it feels as though it’s not getting any closer. My biggest tip here is to use the 5 mins walking, 1 min rest technique. Despite this we still made fairly good progress and reached the top in a decent time to allow us plenty of opportunity to take photos. The view in either direction is pretty incredible and made the whole climb seem worthwhile.
From here it is a steep downhill towards camp. At times it was a bit slippery on the well-worn Inca stones but more than anything it was just tough on already weary quads muscles. The track continues to provide beautiful vistas all the way to the bottom and the campsite was tiered so everyone could enjoy it. This was especially great as the clouds started rolling in. The only big downside of this camp were the toilets that were pretty grotty although I guess what more can you expect I the middle of nowhere.
Have you made it to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass? Where in the world have you climbed a pass that took your breath away in all directions?