Day 2 is no joke. Not only did I need to physically prepare for it, I had to do some mental preps as well. Our day was broken up into 2 main blocks: going up to Dead Woman’s Pass and going down to the campsite. Along the way up, we took a couple breaks together as a group to take in the snow-capped mountain tops.
Before we trekked the last, hardest portion of the trail to Dead Woman’s Pass, we took our last break together as a group. This is the last place to purchase any water, snacks, or other necessities like coca candy and gloves. At this high altitude, it was actually pretty cold so I bought a pair of gloves for 20 soles (~$8 USD), which turned out to be a FANTASTIC decision on our third day. Just FYI, as you hike up the trail, the price of these items gets steeper and steeper so I wouldn’t recommend that you leave your snack-buying to the very last moment. I think a Snickers bar was 20 soles, which is pretty ridiculous.
Ahead and above us, we could see the top of the mountain ridge we needed to get to; behind and below us, we saw the valley housing our campsite from the previous night.
Also take note that this stop is your last opportunity to use a proper toilet until you some ways on your descend. The most important thing to do at high altitude is to stay hydrated, which also means that you’ll have to use the toilet more frequently. I hadn’t felt the effects of altitude sickness until this last part where I suddenly felt nauseous and lightheaded so I made sure to stay hydrated. But, I made the mistake of not using the bathroom before finishing up the last incline so I had to “green bush it”. There aren’t any nice trees or side trails for you to crouch by, so basically anyone hiking above you can look down and watch you pee.
Anyway, the way up to Dead Woman’s Pass wouldn’t be so grueling if we were down in sea level but at 13,500 ft, it’s almost impossible to catch your breath and you have to take a break every 5 steps. What still amazes me is the fact that the porters carrying most of our gear raced up these steps with 40lbs on their backs!
When I finally reached the top, I felt so sick yet so happy I had tears in my eyes. When I looked down the mountain and saw how small our campsite was down in the valley and how far up I had come, the sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. After a couple group photos and a shot of whiskey, we headed down to our campsite accompanied by the songs played on the flute by Alex aka. pollo, another one of our guides.
Sadly to say, the downhill climb isn’t much easier, but… _____________. <– I've got nothing. To be honest, I had a hangry/f*ck it moment going down–but I think we all did at one point on the trail. In any event, I was so happy when we got to our campsite at Paqaymayo. After washing up, eating some beef jerky, and taking a power nap all was well in the world. As we watched the sun set in the valley, the sky changed colors beautifully and the fog rolled in majestically. One of my favorite parts of the day was seeing the sun illuminate the "woman" lying on the Dead Woman's Pass.
After another round of B.S. and a wonderfully filling dinner, we retreated back into our tents to catch some z’s before embarking on the longest hiking day on our trail.
Day 3 was quite memorable because it downpoured the ENTIRE day. Even with all my rain gear and poncho, everything was soaked. Pachamama (aka Mother Earth) was really relentless and didn’t even give us a break! It was really a shame though because the third day is supposed to be the prettiest because you get to see the Peruvian jungle’s flora and fauna. So alas, I do not have many photos from this day because our cameras weren’t equipped to handle the downpour. Here’s one during the calm before the (literal) storm.
Here’s one of after:
The third day is the longest day but it’s also the easiest. The day started off harder than I expected, but eased off as it progressed. All I could think about was getting to our campsite as soon as possible and not slipping on the rocks. Which, to be fair is really all you can do when you’re completely soaked and you can’t feel your fingers because they’re so numb from the cold and you can’t even see 10 ft in front of you because the rain and fog are so dense.
As this was our last night together, after a fantastic round of mafia and another delicious dinner, we said our thank you’s to our porters before peeling off our sticky/stinky soaked clothes and going to bed.