Peru 2018! Inca Trail Day 2

We wake up early around these parts. Someone comes to your tent and places a bowl of hot water to wash in and asks if you would like some hot coca tea. The answer is always yes to coca tea. You need the energy and it will help with the altitude, especially today, the highest day. A rooster is getting in his call just in case you aren’t already awake. We started early at 5 am and were on the trail about 6:30. The plan is to go straight through with needed breaks and meet at campsite for a late lunch (instead of lunching 1/2 way). Well my lunch was actually at 4:30 vs 1:00, we will get to that later. Today was the most challenging day. High altitude and lots of uphill.

The terrain changes drastically on this day: You walk through rain forest like area, see alpacas on the trail, and then very dry on your ascent to the top. This is the day that is supposed to be the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard but the temperatures made this day more enjoyable. The goal is to hike to the Dead Woman’s Pass. The altitude is  At 4,215m (13,828 ft). It is very challenging to get up there and I did have a minor worry on the way up. I felt like my hands were becoming numb. I don’t know if it was all in my head but I did stop to rest at that point. One saving grace is that there is a nice area to chill before you start your ascent. There is someone selling water, sodas and snacks. My guide convinced me to get a coke even though I didn’t want the sugar. It was one time in my life I had no appetite yet I needed to eat in order to survive this hike.

Last stretch to the top. See the “boobie” like thing? That’s where I’m going.

At this point my DSLR went crazy. I guess it wasn’t meant for high altitude.

At the top

You get to enjoy your satisfaction at getting at the top but not too long because you really will be harmed by the altitude.

It is a long 2 hour downhill to the campsite. The steps are big and present a challenge to me.

 Because I am the last one out two porters seek me out and offer to carry my bag the rest of the way. It helped but was still challenging on the way down. Apparently I got taken down a short cut to the  camp site as well as the two other late girls (one American and the Canadian).
Luckily no I think no chickens here today. Just sound of other birds, bugs, and flowing water in the background.
Supposed to be the worst day and all “easier” from here but we will see if I can walk tomorrow
Today’s count 20000 steps.

Peru 2018! Inca Trail Day 1

Even though I felt like I was dying every night of the hike I forced myself to journal before bed. Thank goodness I did so I can later remember vividly how I thought and felt about the experience (and to remember why I never want to do it again, lol).

Day 1 had very short wait for entrance and I am surprised. Our leaders must have timed our entry correctly so we would have best use of the daylight hours.
I rented poles but they forgot one set of poles and almost didn’t get them because everyone grabbed theirs like it was a game of muscial poles and I had zoned out.  I was almost freaking out. It was going to be hard enough for me to do the hike but to do it without something to stabilize me – impossible. Fortunately one girl gave me hers and took the guide’s pole.

Waiting to enter trail

Sign guest book

Looking back at my photos it looks like I wore the same outfit every day. I don’t really remember that as a strategy but maybe I was saving the clean ones for sleeping and the last day.

Starting out was beautiful and hot. Very hot for me a good part of day and stairs were a bitch. Contemplating giving up a few times. Everyone tells you the first day isn’t bad. I don’t know what trail they were hiking? My first day was like a weed out class in college – get the weak to drop out.
I was the slowest and in the back of the pack most of time and because of that my breaks were short compared to others.

Doing the bathroom break almost right away. Very good bathroom placement.

First archaeological site along the way

It was embarrassing being in back. I booked this hike as a journey of self healing but day one only made me hate how out of shape I had become. However when I slowed down the hike was more enjoyable. Just wish day pack was lighter. Just wish I didn’t care that I was the slowest.

Lunch was cool. The porters are amazing. They rush ahead and set up the lunch tent for us and all food is read to be eaten. The hike is really well organized.

After lunch it rained. I used my poncho instead of jacket. It did cool things down but you are hiking in the rain and worried that you didn’t secure all your junk and everything will be soaked. The second part of the day hike was easier but I was happy to make it to the camp site.

Hikers and all the men who helped keep me alive.

More notes from my journal ….
Peed only twice on trail and realized not getting enough water because I had dark pee. Tried to make up for it but was too late. Got migraine like headache and food was not digesting well.
Didn’t feel better until taking migraine medicine later that night. Thank goodness I brought my medicine.
A sleeping pad helps but I still struggle for nighttime comfort. Let’s see if I get used to it tomorrow. Food good, trout for dinner, but I have little appetite. Need to try to eat more to sustain energy.
Luckily one hiker has been keeping track of our steps – 16000 steps that day!

Camping in Shawangunks (Day 2)

Minnewaska State Park

It has been a while since my last camping adventure.
I saw lightening bugs, something that reminds me of my childhood summers in Ohio. I got to see them anymore when I stopped visiting Ohio. It is too hot for them to be in Florida.
I also forgot how hard the ground could get.
Before going to sleep that night I made sure I drank a protein shake so I wouldn’t wake up in lactic acid pain.
I was smelly and sore but didn’t care, shower was not happening that night.
When I do something athletically strenuous I tend to have to urinate frequently. It was very uncomfortable to keep having to get up in the middle of the night and wander around in the pitch black to get to the toilets. 
On my bathroom hikes I refused to look around in case something was lurking in the bushes – I didnt want to know.
The other downside is that I couldn’t sleep. First I was warm, then sore, and always uncomfortable and then cold. Brr was I cold.

I woke up early and took advatage of that shower. It wasn’t amazing but at least there was hot water.
Time to go hiking again? Maybe a swimming hole? I am so sore that I can’t imagine hiking again but you never know.

We pack up our stuff and head to Minnewaska State Park specifically Lake Minnewaska. Lake Minnewaska is a sky lake. A lake in the mountain top. It a few miles so we drive there. Luckily we get there early because the lot seems to be filling up. We park and fill our backpacks with what we need for the swimming hole.

We stop for a great view on the way.

We arrive at the swimming hole and no one is there. Turns out it doesn’t open for another 30 minutes.

I decide to change into my suit meanwhile and we go for a walk along the path around the lake.  I walk for a little while and decide I need more rest before I start for the day. I go back to the beach area to setup to lay down. I read and nap while Carlos does laps around the lake. I decided against going in the water because I overhear someone comparing it to diaper water. Carlos does go in for a little bit after his run.

I finally muster up the energy to go see the views on the other side of the lake. I am glad I did, they were amazing.

Carlos mentioned a great waterfall view that he saw while running. Still sore from the day before I decide against it. We really must come back to this area, especially when I am in better physical shape. So much nature and fun!

Time to get some dinner and head back toward the city. Somehow we end up at Tuthilltown Distillery and Restaurant and ordering a local whiskey flight.

The distillery and restaurant are a nice little area to throw a wedding or a party.

Due to the visit to the restaurant being on the other side of park we took a different route back home. We started going further and further uphill. Are we going back into the mountains? We come across this stellar view and must stop and look.

The rest of the trip back was uneventful until the cluster that is called the George Washington Bridge. Our plan to come back later to avoid traffic was flawed and we sat there forever. We eventually made it home though.
After my recovery I starting dreaming of future trips upstate. I might be hooked on nature. Can’t wait to go back!

Hiking in Mohonk (Day 1)

My husband and I have been talking forever about taking a drive to upstate NY and doing some hiking and camping. For the first time in a long time our schedules aligned and we decided to go up to near “Ellentown”, since he heard from friends it was very nice there.
After searching for campsites we found Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground which is near the “Gunks”, the mountain area at the Shawangunks that is popular with rock climbers. We aren’t rock climbers but it appears that there are trails nearby in walking distance. We book it quickly worried that the sites will book up since it is one of the last weekends of summer.

View of gunks from campground

To check in to your campsite you must arrive between 8-10 am or after 2pm. We made a mad rush to get there before 10 am and we just made it in time.
The sites are semi private. They say you can put two tents on your site but we don’t think we could have put more than one on ours. They are kind of small and you have to pitch within the wood designated area.

After check in it didn’t take us too long to set up our tent. They provide a bear proof locker for your food and toiletries. There are composting toilets and a sink not too far from us but if you want a shower it is a hike and cost $3 in quarters.

We put our sunscreen and bug spray on and head off to whatever hike is ahead of us.
Following advice of the campsite we follow the connector trail that takes us up to the Mohonk Preserve office.

We stop in the vistors center, there is a line. We don’t feel like waiting and still really don’t know where we are going so just follow signs for a trail. Outside the trail there is a nice man who is collecting money for the Preserve. Hikers need to pay $15 for a day pass to hike the trails. You get a wristband to designate that you paid. He gives us some advice on what trails to try. We pay and start on the East Trapps Connector Trail. It is a stone path that connects you to the rock climbing cliffs and the other trails. We soon learn why the guy at the campsite called it the StairMaster.

Soon we get to a flat trail. Upon the advice of the gentleman at the trailhead we go right.

Well I go right, my husband goes up further to walk along the climbers. I feel like I will just get in the way so I continue to flat trail below, hoping we meet back up with each other at some point.

Up to the rock climbers

I walk alone for a little bit. I take in the view of the valley.

At some point the trail begins to curve and I get worried since still no Carlos. Send him a message that the trail is changing direction. I look back occasionally but still no sign. Eventually he meets up with me and we soon come to a cross roads. We must decide which direction we want to go. We decide to go toward the private resort to get a view of the lake on property. The resort shares trails with Mohonk reserve. Hikers can use the trails but are not allowed to use the resort specific amenities such as the water and resort porch (we did use their bathroom though!).
As we walk toward the resort we get a very nice view of the lake.

Map of the resort area and Mohonk Lake

We walk a little farther and we get a spectacular view of this resort in the sky.

We sit on a bench overlooking the lake to fuel up on some snacks. I enjoy this much needed break. We dream of splurging at some point and getting a room at the resort. We later find the cheapest room is $600 a night.
After our snacks we try to find the trail again to circle us around the resort. We aren’t sure we are going the correct way but eventually end up at the Copes Lookout Road and at Cope’s lookout where we enjoyed spectacular views for a few minutes.

We had the lookout to ourselves the whole entire time there. I wish we would have brought a lunch to share on the ledge. Truly spectacular views.
At this point we were turning back toward the way we came. There were a number of paths in the direction we needed to go but we stumbled upon this wooded path called Giants path. Many of the paths we were on were nicely manicured flat trails. Giants path was not. It was down hill with lots of large boulders, following the blue marks. I started to regret this path, even more so when we came these larger than life boulders and a seemingly dead end.

They couldn’t possibly expect us to traverse down this crevice? We evaluated the situation for a little while and Carlos attempted the path, talking to me as he descended. He was confused on how to move on and took each step with hesitation. While he journeyed on I looked for some sort of information on the internet (thank goodness for cell phone towers). I found a video where a mother and maybe a ten year old boy complete the obstacle. I am still extremely intimidated by it so I wander around and look for another way down. I can’t find any other path down. I see markers for a red trail but red is bad right? Why don’t they have a bypass route? Carlos gets to the bottom. He seems pretty far down there. I am still not ready. I watch the video once more. Carlos decides to come up to get me, maybe we will go back up the boulders to the safer trail? At that moment I decide to just do it. I move forward and start following the blue markers. I move swiftly until I get to a point where it is sort of a steep drop. I guess my choice is to slide down? That is what I do; but in the process hurt my knee and twist my good ankle (the other side has a long term running injury). I am injured but not dead. I keep going. I reach Carlos. He is surprised how quickly I made it to that point. I didn’t waste time making decisions, I blindly followed the blue. The area I meet up with him is sort of an open area off to the right seems to be another secret pathway. Already pushing my luck with this path I decide to stay away. However it looks like the kind of place where bats or vampires sleep for the night. We continue on out. Carlos warns me about bumping my head since he did so on his first attempt out. My hat blocks my view so I bump my head on the same spot as him. Now I have a sore knee, ankle and head, but I am out. I feel so accomplished. So proud of myself for conquering my fear.

A video journey of the Giant’s Workshop (what it is called).

I am beaten down so we walk back.

We decide to take the path back advised by the ranger “Overcliff Road”. He said was supposed to have great views. While it had at least one viewing area, it was mostly boring path that went on forever and ever. I was tired and felt like this path was wasting my time and energy stores.

Finally as we turn back toward the vistor’s center do we come across some action.  We see pretty boulders and we get to watch the rock climbers in action.

We have to head back the way we came, except going up the stair master, I stumble down the stairmaster. My legs want to stop but there is an older man with his little dog coming down behind me. I MUST NOT LET THEM BEAT ME. The treat of being overtaken gets me down the hard part. After our campsite connector, we are back. I exchange some dollars for quarters in the campsite office, thinking a shower is even possible at this point. Once I get back to the site, shower is not happening.

The only thing that is happening is sandwiches, sleeping, and this wine.

We retired semi early since once it is dark, there isn’t much to do if you don’t have a burner. Fires not allowed on sites. The campsite has a fire pit but there is no way I am walking back that way.
Time to sleep….zzzzz