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“If you’re not moving, you’re standing  still.”

 

Steve Trafton

Traftons in Peru

High Adventure Begins

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June 6, 2019: Katherine and I flew from Seattle to Dallas, then boarded our flight to Lima which landed in Cusco, Peru. We arrived on the morning of June 6 and spent the day with a walk around Cusco while acclimating to the 11,250-foot elevation of the Andes Mountains.

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June 7, 2019: We spent this day taking longer walks which included several up and down hill-climbs in town. Then we watched the military parade at the central square celebrating Inti Raymi’rata…or the summer solstice… which actually occurs later in the month.

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(Click image to view large size.)

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June 8, 2019: We moved to our new hotel and met the rest of our hiking group. Afternoon was spent touring the city of Cusco, which included a visit to the Santo Domingo Church built atop the ruins of the Inca Temple Coricancha (Temple of the Sun). In the late afternoon we drove to the top of the hills around the town and walked through the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, a magnificent Inca fortress.

 

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June 9, 2019: On this morning, our group boarded a van which would drive us to the starting point of our hike through the Andes. Along the way we stopped at the Inca site of Quillarumiyoc. Then we drove on to Mollepata, a small town where we had lunch before continuing on to Challacancha at 11,900-feet. Here we would start our hike of two and a half miles. There was 800 feet of elevation gain to Soraypampa and our accommodations at the Salkantay Lodge. The lodge is situated at the edge of Soraypampa and is dominated by spectacular views of Humantay Peak (19,412 feet) and Salkantay Peak (20,500 feet).

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June 10, 2019: We started early for a 1,200-foot hike up to a beautiful emerald green Humantay Lake, nestled below the imposing peak of the same name. Once we had explored around the lake we continued up to the top of a knoll (14,000 feet) where a shaman blessed tomorrow’s hike over Salkantay Pass (15,213 feet).

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June 11, 2019: We started early again for our 8 mile hike over Salkantay Pass. Leaving Soraypampa behind, we made a gradual ascent up the valley toward Salkantay Peak. Rounding Humantay, the trail steepened as we switch-backed toward the pass. Since the group was moving a little slowly for Katherine’s and my pace, we moved ahead and arrived at the pass about 20 minutes before the others. The hike to the pass was about four miles and 2523 feet of elevation gain. After a short rest at the pass, we began the 4-mile descent to the Wayra Lodge (12,812 feet) where we spent the night.

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June 12, 2019: Starting at about 9 am we began our 3400-foot descent down from the breathtaking alpine scenery we had enjoyed during the last few days and then disappeared into the cloud forest below. Three hours later we arrived at the Colpa Lodge (9,914 feet), located on a 1,000 promontory above the confluence of three rivers.

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June 13, 2019: Today we continued to descend by hiking down a step-way trail into the Santa Teresa River Valley. After 5 or 6 miles we began to hike past coffee plantations, banana trees and passion fruit orchards. We hiked on for another two or three miles to a big suspension bridge which crossed the Santa Teresa River. We met a van which drove us about 30 miles down valley and then hiked up an old trail to Lucma Lodge. At 7003 feet in altitude, we were now 8,210 feet lower than Salkantay Pass.

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June 14, 2019: After breakfast we set out for climbing up the Inca Trail toward Llactapata Pass (8,974 feet). The 2,000-foot climb seemed easy in the denser air of the lower altitude. After crossing the pass we began our 3,165-foot descent to the Urubamba River in the valley below. On the way down we got our first view of Machu Picchu in the distance, across the valley. As we approached the river, we walked past avocado orchards and bamboo forests until we reached the train station for the ride up to Aguas Calientes, located a short distance from the ruins of Machu Picchu.

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June 15, 2019:  After breakfast we caught the bus up Machu Picchu (7292 feet) and spent the whole day exploring. Rediscovered by American Hiram Bingham in 1911 and restored to a great extent during the intervening years, we were able to appreciate the intricate Incan architecture and stonework. We also walked to an Inca drawbridge. Built into a vertical cliff, it also was one of the entrances to Machu Picchu. Another hike was up to Inti Punku (the Sun’s Gateway). That afternoon we toured the various structures and received lectures on the “city” of Machu Picchu itself.

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June 16, 2019: We returned to Machu Picchu where I hiked to the top of Huayna Picchu at 8,835 feet. That is the prominent mountain which is the viewpoint for many pictures of Machu Picchu. While I was climbing, Katherine climbed the much higher Machu Picchu Mountain (10,007 feet).

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Whewwww!

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June 17, 2019: We returned to Cusco and celebrated our 40 miles of hiking trails with 9800 feet of elevation gain and 15,237 feet elevation loss. This was a spectacular journey!

 

Comments

  1. Bob Kelley says

    Steve, If you wish, please post a map showing the location of the trails you and Katherine hiked!

  2. Bob Kelley says

    Steve and Katherine, Thanks for the story of your adventures in Peru!

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