If yesterday was gruelling, today was torture! This is the longest, most demanding day of the trek, with a 10 mile hike that was straight up for the first half, and straight down for the second, with an elevation gain of 800 meters. The physical demands of two days in a row of hard hiking are as taxing as running a marathon two days in a row. When I asked one guy that we met on the hike how he trained, he said, "You couldn't have trained for this. You would have had to set the treadmill at the steepest incline and run with a plastic bag over your head for a few hours, maybe punch a few holes in it."
By the time we stopped for supper, almost 12 hours after starting this morning, my legs were like jelly, and I hardly had the strength to eat my supper.
Marianne has come down with a cold, so the hike was especially tough for her, but she hung in there and finished near the front of the group. We took turns crying today out of sheer exhaustion. Many times along the way today I found myself asking why in the heck we were doing this. I think it has something to do with the need to challenge ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This truly is a once in a lifetime adventure unparalleled by beauty, spirituality and comraderie. Marianne and I have drawn closer together through shared suffering, and we have thoroughly enjoyed all the members of our team.
The amazing sights that we have seen today include several Incan ruins, mind blowing scenery of waterfalls raging through the Andes, and the rare black llama.
As with yesterday, every meal was a feast, with far more food than we could eat. We were treated to hot water bottles for bedtime, and were once again fast asleep by 7:30 in anticipation of our 5:30 am wake-up call.