Inka Trail Hike – The Honest Truth

Ever since I got back from my South American backpacking trip, I have been procrastinating about writing my experience on the Inka Trail, mostly because I don’t know how to approach it. When I write articles on my blog, I usually do it retrospectively, but somehow that doesn’t work for this topic. So I decided to approach it another way, by writing what I felt in real time. I didn’t keep a journal during the hike, but I did write an email to my boyfriend Nick, who was back home, every night when I got back to camp. Since I had no Internet access during the hike, I sent all 4 emails in one go while I was having lunch in Aguas Calientes at the end of the four day hike. These emails could not be any more honest on how I felt during the hike. Not gonna lie, I sound pretty whiny on these emails. I make no apologies for it. I am just grateful I never gave up and made it all the way to the end.

The emails below have not been edited in any way, not for brevity or for shame, or typos. We have a weird nickname for each other and we proudly own it, as cheesy as it may be.


From: MJ
Date: November 26, 2014 at 12:22:05 PM CST
To: Nick
Subject: A Fluffy Report

Dear fluffy,

So I finished the first day of the hike in one piece and nary a problem. The food they have been feeding us has been crazy good! Every meal starts with really rich and yummy soup, then followed by a main meat dish, rice, a veggie dish, a salad, and finished with peppermint tea. We also have happy hour at 5, where we’re served chocolate cookies, popcorn, hot choco, tea, and coffee. I thought I was gonna lose weight on this hike, but it seems I’m about to gain at least 10lbs at the end of this! Not complaining though coz the food is really good.

The only issue I’m really having right now is the bathroom situation. The bathrooms on the trail charge S/1 per use, or about 0.35USD. Not much but becomes such an inconvenience when all you have are S/20 or S/10 bills. Also the state of the bathrooms here leave a lot to be desired. I’ve communed with nature twice already on the trail and I’m worried about how tomorrow will work when I need to do my other morning stuff.

The tent I’m in is comfortable because I’m alone in it. Ideally you share a tent with somebody else, but since it’s an odd number group and I’m the only solo traveler, I get my own tent. I can’t even imagine how cramped it would have been with another person and their crap. With just my stuff, I’m already taking up half the tent. The other half is where I have my sleeping bag laid out. We are camped on an embankment and will probably need to put my pack by my foot to keep me from sliding down.

I’m half excited and half terrified for tomorrow. Let’s see if Dead Woman’s Pass takes the best out of me.

I miss you loads. I can’t wait to see you in a week.

I love you baby..

Hugs and kisses,
Stuffed fluffy


From: MJ
Date: November 26, 2014 at 12:22:05 PM CST
To: Nick
Subject: Fluffsicle

Dear Fluffy,

I’m writing this to you as I’m freezing my nuts off in my tent. It is fucking freezing here tonight, but that’s ok. I am beyond exhausted right now that I can pretty much sleep anywhere and in any condition. I made it to Dead Woman’s Pass in one piece but not without some serious contemplation about the state of my sanity. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I’m not gonna lie, I almost quit about half a dozen times coz I didn’t think I was gonna make it. I was so exhausted and just wanted to go back and sleep, but being the stubborn ass that I am, I chugged through and made it. Next time I have the urge to do something idiotic like this, please remind me of this insanity.

I miss you, and I can’t wait to see you on Sunday.

I love you loads.

Never again,
Lazy llama

PS. I may have caught pneumonia on this trip..


From: MJ
Date: November 26, 2014 at 12:22:05 PM CST
To: Nick
Subject: Fluffy phone home!!

Dear Fluffy,

Tonight is the end of the third day of the trek. I’m beyond exhausted right now. I don’t feel proud or accomplished. I didn’t do well on this hike. I was the last one up on the first leg yesterday. Today, the guides wanted me to go back down to town because they thought I have pulmonary edema. I have to spend an hour convincing them that it’s only pneumonia. They also made me skip the lecture on the first site coz they didn’t think I was gonna make it. They made me go ahead to the pass to test me, and so I don’t hold up the group. I didn’t appreciate that. For all their talk of taking it at your own pace I felt singled out. I want to say I have had an amazing experience but I’ve had way too much problems here. I am proud of myself for not quitting and for sticking to my guns, but I shouldn’t have to do that. That being said, I’ve had some pretty cool experiences here and have seen some amazingly incredible things that I can’t wait to tell you.

I’m ready to go home. I need a big hug from my fluffy. And I might need you to make an appointment for me to see my doctor when I get back. I’ll let you know how I feel when I get back to Cuzco. And I am definitely NEVER doing this again!!

Missing you bad,
Exhausted (and dying) llama

PS. Is it Sunday yet????


From: MJ
Date: November 26, 2014 at 12:22:05 PM CST
To: Nick
Subject: Extra crispy fluffy llama

Dear Fluffy,

I’m writing this to you as I’m sitting in the one spot in the entire Machu Picchu complex that has shade. At the beginning of the hike, our guide has nicknamed as “lazy llamas” coz the rest of my damn group moves glacially slow! Ugh!

Today, however, after 4 straight days in the sun (and 3 weeks more prior), I can no longer be called a lazy llama but rather a “burnt llama”, and an extra crispy one at that! I can’t even describe the state my skin is at right now. I am dark and burnt and uneven, and my shoulders and upper back are peeling already.

I am sick and tired of all the tour groups moving so slow and blocking my way. It’s 11:11 right now and I’m not meeting my group until 2. I don’t have to catch the bus down until 1. The only place left for me to explore is all the way at the other end of the complex and involves the equivalent of a 6-floor climb. In this heat, shit ain’t happening!! I’m hoping it’ll be cloudy soon so I could continue exploring, but right now, I am parking my lazy llama butt where there is shade.

As sucky as some parts of the hike have been, I’m glad I stuck it out. The feeling of making it all the way to the Sun Gate this morning, and seeing Machu Picchu slowly being revealed as the clouds cleared is beyond amazing! Every second another inch of the city is revealed, and from our vantage point way up the mountain, it felt like a present being slowly opened.

I am beyond exhausted right now. My quads, hamstrings, and calves are burning in pain. Every step up and/or down makes me cry out in pain. My knees have sent in their resignation letter. They have strongly informed me that under no circumstance should they be subjected again to this extreme torture ever again. I have a full blown cough and cold, and possibly pneumonia, but I have never felt better or stronger.

That being said, I am counting the hours until I’m home and in your arms. A month is too long without my fluffy. I’ve had the time of my life, but the time has now come for me to go home.

I love you..

Hugs and kisses,
Fluffy llama



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *