Ruta del Cares

Today is the planned hike. The hike is the Ruta del Cares. The trail is a gorge route with breathtaking views through the Picos de Europa mountain range.

The trail is 12 km long (24 if you do roundtrip). After watching the hikers yesterday I decide I’m probably only doing one way and taking the bus back to my town.

I eat breakfast at the hotel and load my backpack with water and a sandwich made from the hotel. Backpack already feels heavy when I start off at 10 am.

My hotel is about 500 m from the start. It is a little walk uphill to get to the start.

There is a light mist outside and it is a little cool (but for me it means perfect).

Before my face gets all flushed and sweaty.
And up you go

That first 2 km is pretty harsh since it is all uphill ( also bad going back down too – talk about that later).

I got dizzy which is new for me; and I took lots of stopping breaks.

Look at this view!

Thank goodness the trail gets flat.

At the halfway point so its sandwich time.

I eat 1/2 my sandwich then I am off again.

I arrived at Cain about 2 pm.

Lots of people stop there to eat but I have already eaten half my sandwich so no plans to eat, but I do notice a stream where people are chilling.

I stop and take my boots and socks off. It’s painful yet massaging to walk on rocks to get to water, but water is super cold. It hurts. The cold has got to be good for my feet right?

I sit down and rest for a bit. Have every intention of finding a bus to ride it back to my town (as I’ve seen posted in message boards).

I wander into Cain looking for a bus sign. All I see is a bunch of cafes and places to buy walking sticks (probably should have gotten some of those).

No buses to be found, only guy with a van offering a 30 euro nature ride back to my town. Something doesn’t seem right and that is expensive. Taxis are probably even more. Did I just insanely decide to walk back? I think about the route, the toughest part being the 2k downhill. And the sun is out and beating down on most of the trail.

The hike back was pretty tough. I think really fit people will have no issue. People who are semi-muscular like me can handle it but I think starting really early and eating lunch on the other side before heading back is the way to go. I didn’t rest enough before heading back because I was taking too long. I should have just taken my time though. The sun stayed out late this time of the year and there were still people on the trail at the end (but not as many). The really cool way to go is go with those trek groups who will pick you up on the other side (but you have to pay and are probably under time constraints).

More amazing views on the way back.

If I did it again I would stay more days in the area. I would still do the up and back in one day but I would take my time. I would also try other trails. It is my understanding there is so much more to see in the area. I only got a taste of the area and I liked it.

Narrows River Hike – Zion

Last fall my aunt was very sick in Las Vegas. Another aunt and I were out to visit to help take care of things while she was being treated. Times got very stressful so my aunt suggested I disappear for a couple days and hike the Narrows River at Zion National Park.

So I decided to get some water shoes, borrow my aunts hiking stuff and head out there for an overnight.

The drive to Hurricane Utah wasn’t too bad except it was boring and you have to watch your speed since you frequently pass by small town speed traps along the way.

I was happy to settle down at my sleepy motel.

I started early the next day to give myself time to figure things out. Most importantly I needed a map and to check what the flash flood forecast looks like for the day.

What you are essentially doing is hiking in a river in a canyon. The river can be shallow or deep in many places. I have been told the water can even be over your head in some places so you are essentially swimming.

Lower risk today so all good

I must have picked the perfect day to visit. Little threat of rain and the river level was low. In fact, the worst I had was up to my waist.

Be sure to not bring anything you don’t want destroyed by water and/or have dry bags.

Once you take the long shuttle ride there is about a mile hike to the river.

Jump right in, the water is fine.

The hike can be done in a day (up and back) or multiple days with camping (permit required). I had a guide to how far I could go before I should turn back but I ended up just turning back based on time. I expected to drive back to Las Vegas that evening so I hiked two hours up and two hours back. Not quite sure how far I ended up.

It was amazing experience. The weather was perfect, the river was perfect. I am so glad I got to sneak off to do the hike. If the stars align for you when you are in Zion then do it!

Peru 2018! Inca Trail Day 3

Yesterday was a rough day. It was a shorter hiking day but still took a lot out of me. Luckily we got lots of rest that night because the next day wasn’t going easier on us.
Today was a long day. Started with strenuous uphill to the first peak. We more Inca sites.
Still, we were rewarded with some beautiful vistas and some archaeological sites.

Lunchtime was fun. We had some fun with “fanny” and an onion ring plus Lomo Saltado!

This last day I finally spent some time hiking with part of the group. Some of them may have been sick thus the reason why they were at my pace, but I was grateful for a little companionship while it lasted.

At points it felt like I was walking in the clouds.

Today was hard on the knees. I ended up skipping the last Inca site due to lateness and exhaustion.
And we are done. The hardest is supposedly behind us with just a short hike to machu pichu in the morning.

This part may gross some out but I sometimes like to talk about BM (bowel movements). I think bowel movements are an important indicator of health. This third day of the hike I finally went poo poo in the potty. This is an accomplishment not only because my routine was all screwed up but also because I didn’t talk about the bathroom conditions before (and I have no photo of this). Our bathrooms most of the hike were a privacy tent with two buckets and some deodorizing powder. One bucket was for peeing and one bucket was for number 2. It was an art to do the switchover with sore legs and not have body parts touch things if you don’t want body parts touching things. It was gross somewhat but it was kept up really nice by one of our porters. He broke it down and put it back together a couple times a day (especially days we had a lunch setup). We tipped him really well at the end. When I do strenous exercising I tend to wake up and pee a lot during the night because my body goes into detox mode. If I didn’t have this challenge my sleeping would have possibly been more rejuvenating.

This last night my tent is scary close to a ledge, luckily I didn’t fall over a cliff during one of my many late night potty visits.
It also started raining in the middle of the night – should make a fun morning.
I also had heartburn or acid reflux every day of the hike. I am wondering what I can do to counter act that when I am doing strenuous activities.
16500 Steps today

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!