6/7, day 59:
Today we got up at 4am to take a car to Chorca, the starting point of our trek. For the first day, we rented mules to carry our big backpacks, because all of the hiking was going to be steep uphill and steep downhill.
The first day of our trek was pretty easy because we didn't have our backpacks, but it was still tiring. There was a dense fog the entire 6-hour hike, and it rained the whole time. Luckily I bought a rain poncho beforehand, or else my day pack and I would have been soaking wet.
After an easy 3 hour downhill and harder 3 hours uphill, we arrived at a small community in the mountains where we planned to camp the night.
When our bags arrived, mine was almost completely dry, as I had put my rain cover over it. Ben's pack, on the other hand, was drenched. I had told him to put his rain cover on, as it was raining and that's what they are made for, but he refused, saying it wouldn't be worth it (he changed his mind after he got his soaking wet bag back).
6/8, day 60:
Today was the most relaxed day of the trek, as we only had to walk about an hour to the next campsite near the Choquequirao ruins. Luckily it was bright and sunny today, so Ben's things were able to dry out, and we could finally see the views around us.
The mountains were breathtaking, and we were excited to see Choquequirao. The ruins at Choquequirao were terrific, and were spread out over a large area, so we spent the entire day at the ruins to see it all.
In a way, Choquequirao was better than Machu Picchu, because there was about 1% of the people at Choquequirao than at Machu Picchu. Choquequirao is less of a touristy place because it's so high up in the mountains, and you need to hike and camp to see them.
We were able to climb a truncated hill and get an overlook of the central plaza ruins with no people in them, something that's impossible at Machu Picchu. One of my favorite parts of the ruins were the llamas made with white stones, placed in the terraces as decoration.
6/9, day 61:
Today was a hard day, starting with an hour uphill to get over a mountain pass. After the pass, it was a steep and hot three-hour descent back to the river, and then a three and a half hour climb to our next campsite.
Once we got to the level of the river, we had to go up about 1200 meters, switchbacking up a steep hill. My legs and back killed after the hike, and Ben had to take all of the water we pumped because the weight was too much for me.
6/10, day 62:
Today was another long day, starting with another long uphill to a mountain pass at 4100 meters. Once we got to the pass, the view was breathtaking.
There were mountains completely surrounding us, with nothing else in sight. It was so peaceful, and amazing that we were in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere.
6/11, day 63:
Today was probably my favorite day of the trek. None of the sections were too hard, and most of the way we were walking on a ridgeline with a spectacular view. Our campsite was beautiful, in a valley between two of the mountains with a river running down the middle.
We made a campfire for the first time on the trek and watched the stars. It was pretty cool to have light only from the fire and stars, as it is so hard to go anywhere without artificial light.
Unfortunately, I got sick, and we had to stay put an entire day. I didn't feel better until the next day, and even after the hike on the next day I still felt sick.
Luckily the next day we made it to Huancancalle, where we were able to sleep in a bed, much more comfortable than sleeping in a tent. The next day we got transportation from Huancancalle to hydroelectrica, and then walked for three hours to Aguas Calientes, the town next to Machu Picchu.
6/15, day 67:
Today we got up at 8 to hike up to Machu Picchu. After a long hour and a half (because I still felt sick) we arrived at the entry point. The number of people there was overwhelming; you couldn't walk two feet without bumping into someone.
The ruins, however, were worth the annoying amount of people. With a beautiful mountain in the backdrop, the ruins looked amazing, and very impressive. It took us over a few hours to see everything there.
Unfortunately, I felt pretty sick and got out of breath easily walking up and down the stairs. However, being able to see Machu Picchu was worth it, and they are by far my favorite ruins I've seen.
While we were walking around the ruins, we happened to run into the guy from South Carolina we met on our Torres del Paine trek. It was pretty crazy that we ran into him, and happened to be in Machu Picchu at the same time and day. Small world.