On that difficult day


‘Wednesday 8th October 2014 5.50am

Awake before morning wake up.  No alarm.  No phone.  Must be starting to sync into nature.

Yesterday was Day 2 of our trek, our 1000 metre ascent.  It was never going to be easy but boy is it good to be on the other side.

We slept last night at 4,200m.  Thank goodness we made it here.  I was worried we may not.

The day started early – 5am.  We stuffed ourselves with pancakes and porridge and set off into the cool air.  It was lovely walking temperature actually.  Within 15 minutes however, we had stopped. Oh dear.  Man down (B) and man struggling (K).  It was going to be one hell of a long day as we hadn’t even reached altitude yet.  The worst part of it was our guide – A.  Man did he do a terrible job of leading us.  It was really disappointing because he ended up isolating himself from the group completely.  No respect.  No respect at all.

LV at the end went and spoke to him on his own (as of course he was about 200m in front of the rest of the group who were trying to stick together – for morale’s sake more than anything else).  He then came back and gave a speech on going at your own pace, but I think for B it was a little too late.

How do I describe the rest of that walk?  Fits and bursts.  Starts and false starts.  And all the while A shaking his head saying, ‘We are far from the summit’.  ‘ We are behind schedule’.  Hate to break it to you pal but as we get higher it’s only going to get worse.

The views were rather spectacular and until about 4,100m I personally really enjoyed the hike.  This is when he said to me, ‘You are strong’.  Yes, stronger than I look.  Looks can be deceiving.  Stop judging a book by its cover.  But, hey I guess we all do it.

It did do something inside of me though.  It made me realise how positive my mindset was compared to when I had done Everest.  I was determined to keep it that way.

Still smiling

Still smiling

So far altitude had kept itself at bay.  So far I was drinking and peeing (5x!) and getting on fine.  Then we crossed the 4,100m mark and old friends reared their head.

This time it was dizziness which got me.  And I knew if I just kept going, just got to the summit and down the other side, it would be fine.  I would be fine as long as I got to go down again.

So it kept me going.  That one thought.  You’ve done this before and you can certainly do it again.  And you’ve been higher remember?  5,182m.  This was an easy 4,800m.  Not even as high as Lobuche.

Just to digress, I had to say, there was vegetation really as high as 4,700m.  Odd.  Though, that moonscape with rocks and boulders did present itself around then too.

I took some Paracetamol to stave off the imminent headache.  It kind of worked though that heaviness just didn’t seem to lift.

By about 4,500m I realised that actually I was quite sick and I may have verbalised my concerns to a few people.  There is absolutely no point pretending you are fine when you are not.  And being alone having someone else watching out for you is a necessary evil.

I’d taken some Diamox, hesitantly, and also an anti-emetic.  Nausea was a new thing for me.  I’d never felt it the last time.  This worried me only in the sense that obviously my symptoms were worsening at a fairly rapid rate.

I have more to write but it’s definitely time to get ready.  It rained and rained last night.  My bag is wet.  My waterproof wet.  But today we hit Aguas Calientes and hot showers and clean clothes.  3 hours down.  Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.  Rest, shower.  Then Machu Picchu.  It will be good.  I will write about the Lagoon upwards.  There is more to tell on that difficult day.’


  1. annathrax

    Oh i remember these feelings! Loved reading this!

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