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Trip Report The Inca Trail - It's a Long Way Down

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Okay that is a bit of a weird title but here’s the background. While considering doing the Inca Trail I searched and searched for opinions as to whether the trail was dangerous. Or worse … scary for those of us with a mild aversion to heights. While I found a few good descriptions, I must say now having done the trail that I think many writers do not understand what a fear of heights can mean to scardy cats like me. What is a nothing little drop for many people is paralysing to some of us.

When I was a kid I could not walk down the stairs of sports stadiums. I had to wait until all the people had left and then I would climb down over the seats, one row at a time. That was the only way I could get down. Over the years I have overcome most of the fear. But still, last year in Turkey we took a balloon ride. At low levels I was fine. When the pilot turned on the burners, I studied the clouds. I don’t like looking straight down.

So the purpose of this report is to offer an accurate (i.e. my) appraisal of whether the trek is enjoyable for the vertically challenged.

Some background. We are a family of five. I am a 50 something. DW is 51. DD is 19. DS1 is 16 and DS2 is 12. We were also joined on this trip by two couple friends of ours. So that is 5 plus 2x2 = 9 people. We are not foodies. We are not historians. We don’t take pictures. We are just normal folk driving through life, glancing out the window hoping to see interesting things to pass the time.

The specific motivation for the trip was twofold. 1) DS2 mentioned a couple of years ago that he would like to visit all the continents before he passes on. We thought that was an admirable objective. With this trip to South America he has now seen five. 2) Focussing the trip around the Inca Trail is the continuation of a strategy we have adopted of having a trip anchor. We went to Japan, South Korea and China as part of seeing the Beijing Olympics. We went to Germany to see the World Cup. We went to Egypt to launch last year’s social uprising. Okay that wasn’t us.

If the anchor was to be the Inca Trail we were going to have to do some serious training. At least the older people would. I have always exercised a lot, usually after eating a lot. My wife has never exercised much but is very trim. The kids have all been good athletes, the little buggers. The 12 year old is a cross country runner. And it showed on the trail. He could have completed the 26 miles in a day and a half. The other two did little training but had the advantage of youth and little body fat.

Two of our friends could be considered to be in good shape (a few marathons between them) while the other two are in average condition for late fifties types. My wife and I did a lot of hill climbing in the months before the trip. Our city of Ottawa, Canada saw little snow before Christmas (our departure date) so we were able to hike almost up to starting the trek.

To be continued as I remember some of the trip details.

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