The last scramble along the Inca Trail to reach the Sun Gate fell into the utterly epic category. Up by 3:20am, packed bags, quick breakfast, squished along the bench at the fast-forming passport control line. We waited until the last six kilometers of trail opened at 5:20am, then bolted. It felt nothing short of silly to be so rushed, but the pressure of sunrise and the crowds of loud Argentinians following hot on our heals kept us in rapid forward motion.
A spectacular circular rainbow at the top and the first glimpse of long awaited Machu Picchu…
The cool, beautiful morning calmed us as we caught our breaths…
The clouds rolled in and out, playing peak-a-boo with Huayna Picchu and the ruins below.
After the Sun Gate, thirty minutes of decent were punctuated with photo pit-stops and pinch-me-I’m-really-here moments.
Wandering, watching, listening.
We toured with our guide for an hour or two then roamed the site alone…
Testing out the echo chamber… (Tourists are the same, all the world over. )
Earthquake damage in recent years has threatened the structural integrity of some of the ruins. Yet, amazingly, they continue to let visitors explore almost every nook and cranny.
The following day, we’d return on our own and climb Huayna Picchu. But after 48 kilometers without beds or showers, the group decided that burgers, beers, and parting farewells were in order, and we made our way down the mountain to Aguas Calientes for celebration.
Some people criticize Aguas Calientes as a grubby tourist trap, but we had to disagree. The rainy season meant freshly flushed hot springs, and the endearing, kitschy murals on the town walls brought smiles to our faces as we wandered the streets.
It’s so difficult to capture an experience once the time has passed…
We try. We snap photos and make memories.
I grab my sketch book and engage for a moment in the concentrated etching of impressions. Our group, our Family on the trail, said goodbyes and wandered separate ways toward the four corners of Peru and ultimately the globe.
Like the vibrant life of Machu Picchu, our time in place slips into history, leaving us with relics of time gone by…
Our goal on the Inca Trail.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Just the beginning of our RTW Adventures.