Day Three of the Inca Trail
The third day of the trek was the best. Although it was the longest day, everything just seemed easier. We stopped by a small circular ruin, Runkurakay, that was used by runners on the Incan trail. We had a second smaller mountain to climb. Near the top, there was a small reflective lake that was used back in the day for offerings to Pachamama. From there on, it was basically all downhill.
The next ruin we encountered was one of my favorites. Named Sayacmarca, or "inaccessible city"; it was used centuries ago to house a garrison of troops. It was only accessible by a narrow set of steep stairs. Unfortunately, everybody else in my group was too tired to climb up there, so I had to explore it alone. There were some amazing views of the valley below from our lunch break spot.
We stopped briefly at a third ruin, Phuyupatamarca or "cloud level town." This signified our return to the cloud forest where we saw various orchids and even some ripe wild strawberries. Nobody had the cojones to try them. Sadly, there were no spectacled bears. We passed a girl who was hobbling down the stairs with the aid of a guide. It was going to be a long day for her.
In the late afternoon, we made it to the Intipata ruins overlooking the last campsite. The place was well-preserved, with the Incan steps still useable on the terraces. Sadly, there was not enough time to see Winay Wayna, considered one of the nicest and most well known ruins on the trail. Sherri was extremely disappointed as this was the one site that she wanted to see the most. Darkness settled before we made it to the campsite. Raul had a small flashlight which was fortunate as there were some steep drops just a few feet away from the path. I believe we were probably the last group to arrive.
The campsite had some modern facilities--a grille, a deserted "dance floor" strobe light and all, seated toilets, and cold beer--but nothing to write home about. If you had asked me before the trek whether we would take the first opportunity to shower after sweating it out for 3 straight days, I would have given an emphatic "hell, yeah!" Well, I guess we all got used to feeling nasty and stinky. None of us opted to take one (only 20 soles, including a towel). Besides, we had been using bath wipes each night.
The big surprise after dinner was our cook had "baked" a cake! It was no Ace of Cakes' creation, but it was tasty and down right impressive considering he only had a kerosene camping stove and the ingredients they carried. The tipping ceremony followed. We were happy how well Llama Path took care of us, so we all gave them what we felt was a good amount. They definitely deserved it.