Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sisterhood on the Inca Trail

I was scared and excited when my friend first suggested the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu in Peru last December. I do love walking, but the idea of camping outside, mountain trails and high altitudes really intimidated me. At the same time I was enthralled by the idea of mountain views, forests, and valleys all around me…and all that clean air. I agreed to the plan immediately, hoping that I would conquer my fear of the unknown.

My preparation for the trip consisted of some time on a treadmill and my participation in the Revlon Run/Walk in New York City as a TWM member. As personally rewarding as the 5K race was for me, nothing could prepare me for the 45 km hike, with three high mountain passes (one of which reaches to an elevation of 13,776 ft). When we met with our tour organizers in Lima, Peru, we found out that there would be no men among us, except for the guides, porters and chefs. They were going to Machu Picchu by train! I was surprised and little anxious…what would it be like on the Inca Trail with other women?

I often lagged behind the others in my tour group, but they never judged me for my “slow and steady” pace…at least not to my face. When we huddled around the dinner table in the main tent every night, I felt a comradery with my fellow hikers that was not hindered by differences in personality, nationality or race... we were all going to make it to Machu Picchu, no matter what. When we finally did, I knew that one of the reasons was our sisterhood on the Inca Trail. Yes, the guides and porters were mostly responsible for our success, and we had to move our aching bodies up and down the rocky paths, but it was also the kinship we had with each other that made our final day a joyous occasion. I may never see them again, but I will always remember my fellow trekkers on the Inca Trail.


Kekla Magoon said...

That sounds awesome, Pauline! I love the unique kind of bonding you can get on a journey like that, with people who might otherwise be strangers to you.

sally said...

Oh man, I wish I could travel more... or at all really. Just one trip and I'd be a happy camper.

habladora said...

I miss Peru! I only stayed there for a few months, but it is such a beautiful and welcoming country that it quickly felt like home.

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