The morning of Day 5 I woke up crying as a result of the physical pain I was in. After 13 years of competitive figure skating, not even that could compare to the knee and foot pain I experienced on this trek. Sliding my hiking boots on felt like an insurmountable task, but I did it. Besides we were going to Machu Picchu today – how cool is that?!
As we walked down to hop on the bus to Machu Picchu each step was filled with so much pain, I honestly did not know how I would get through the day. The entire bus ride I was psyching myself up to do it. I literally kept repeating in my head “You cannot feel any pain, You cannot feel any pain”. We had purchased the additional hike of Machu Picchu mountain with our tickets and we were not going to let that go to waste. It was completely foggy, you couldn’t see, but we were on the edge of the cliff on the way up. We didn’t care because we were there. We climbed over 2,000 steps that morning and we were both feeling the burn but we made it. You couldn’t see anything from the top at all but we got a picture with the sign (haha!). Going back down killed the knees, and was a little sketchy on some of the stairs but we felt so accomplished.
After that we had a little tour of Machu Picchu and time to explore. We both wished we had more time but we were happy to be there at all. Unfortunately, there was some confusion with our tour and we almost missed the major views and photo ops however, after a little sweet talking we managed to see Machu Picchu from above. It’s as breath taking as the photos, it does not disappoint. It truly is a hidden treasure that we need to preserve. We learned of a young boy who back in the early 1900s used to play there. What a playground? You could have the most epic game of hide and seek amidst those walls.
My childhood dream of seeing Machu Picchu in all of its glory came true. It’s a humbling, spiritual, and immaculate place in this world. Machu Picchu was a wonderful experience but the journey to get there was equally as wonderful. It truly is all about the journey, and the work, and the struggle and the camaraderie. I was grateful to have my boyfriend at my side. We were each other’s biggest cheerleaders and he had the opportunity to see just how stubbornly determined I am. We learned a lot about each other, how well we work as a team and in moments of crisis. When you’re hiking 20-30km a day your perspective changes. I found myself excited and looking forward to smaller things like a hot shower, a light in my room, the ability to call my parents. I was grateful for the everyday things in our life at home. It was humbling. Getting off the grid in the middle of the Andes allowed me the opportunity align my priorities and be so damn grateful for a hot shower, fresh band aids and a hot meal.
This trek has taught me so much about my own personal resilience and determination. I was in physical pain/sick almost the entire time but I did it. Every day I chose to put one foot in front of the other even when it wasn’t easy. I know that if I could do that, I can do anything. And so can you!
The funny thing is even with all the pain and sickness I was ready to do it all again. Call me crazy but by the time we finished I was dreaming of the next mountain. Patagonia? Kilimanjaro? Everest Basecamp? Climbing mountains is all about learning – it teaches you about yourself, others, different cultures and the world around us. It’s humbling and fulfilling but most of all it gives you perspective.