Machu Picchu 

16 miles

400 Floors

All do the group was to meet at 4:30 at the lobby of our hostel. Machu Picchu opens the gates at5 for everyone to bus or climb up. Mihael Lexi Ama Robbie and I decided to walk up. We had already home so far we might as well climb the whole thing. We ran into the firefighters the day before and they said the Salkatay hike was just training for Machu Picchu.

We walked down from Aguas Calientes to the gate. The line was already very long. We ran into Nik and Paul waiting as well. We got to the front of the line by 5:15. They checked our passport at the bottom before letting us cross the bridge.

This is the gate and bridge to enter Machu Picchu at 5 in the morning. It reminded me of Jurassic Park. If they pumped in the music it would have been perfect.
So we started up the steps to Machu Picchu. 1700 steps up in the pitch black. Ana was still borrowing my headlamp from camping and I was too passive to ask for it back so I had the little handheld light. I was fine because everyone else had a light. After the first five minutes we took  a break. Lexi had a watch so we timed minute breaks. We kept climbing and climbing and by the last stretch we didn’t have a break for 20 min tired of straight uphill stairs. We saw Paul climbing and he was helping a girl from his hike.

We reached the top and it was golden. We ate some of our snacks (bananas) and waited for the rest of the group. The people who bussed up and the fast and slow climbers all met up. We went through the gate and they stamped our ticket. I would go back as we were leaving and stamp my passport. The park guy ( who looks like a TSA armored security guy) told us we weren’t allowed to bring food so I tried to stuff all the snacks in Lexi bag.

We walked inside and tried to look around and take pictures.

Mihael and I with the mist. Photo by http://www.elianafrench.com/
It was very misty. It would come and go and clear for bits so we would have little pockets of view.
Photo by http://www.elianafrench.com/
We saw all of the other Lombardis come through too and took a pic.
Our guide Joel came up and started to explain the site. We talked about its history and important elements. Before he started to walk us around, the downpour started.

Everything was sopping wet and the rain kept coming down during the whole tour. It was pretty miserable not going to lie in the cold rain. He walked us around a good portion of the site in the rain.

After the tour, we split ways and the group from the hike disassembled. The Dutch family went to go find the treasure their sister left for them a year ago. They had a printed map with photos. Mihael asked if we could try to find it too but they said no. Our group went down to the cafe to warm up and grab food but it was only 9 in the morning so Mihael and I continued exploring in the cold mist. The rain had mostly cleared up but we couldn’t see anything.

Mihael took this picture of a spider in the window and misty Machu Picchu. He is very proud.
We explored most of the site again and got lost and went down dead ends. We got whistled at for climbing on things and made our way to the gate at Wanu Picchu. We tried to go up to the sun gate but after we went up the steps we got a text from Lexi that she lost her passport. We checked through all of our stuff and we didn’t have it. She needed up going to the list and found and they had it. It must have slipped out of her bag right at the entrance. Scary stuff. But at that point anyway we headed down to meet the group to climb Wanu Picchu.


The Wanu Picchu Climb
Machu Picchu means old mountain and Wanu Picchu means trash mountain. They are right next to each other. You climb down and then it is all up. I hiked up with Eli Lexi and Pat because I wanted to stay with Lexi and she was caring for Eli who still had a bad fever. We took more frequent breaks and shared water.
We reached the top, Mihael and I took a granola break.

Photo by http://www.elianafrench.com/

All of our feels can be summed up by this pic of Mihael at the top.
It was a beautiful view though and worth it. There are also ruins on this mountain and we could climb on them a bit more. The mountain is a one way loop so we lost Ama and Robbie because they went ahead and couldn’t go back towards us.

Photo by http://www.elianafrench.com/

Booty Picture looking out the window.
I felt on top of the world and kept singing that song to myself. Eli and Lexi had quality cameras so they took quality pics of us at the top. I felt bad for Lexi because Ama and Eli kept obsessing over the perfect picture. Some things you can’t capture and this is def one of them. Pictures just don’t do it justice.

Photo by http://www.elianafrench.com/
We kept climbing and made our way down after two and a half hours. At the bottom of the mountain, Mihael ran down to the cafe to eat and I waited for the girls to come down. They came a bit later. We walked to the exit together and on our way out, we ran into a bunch of gator grads. They were very excited to see us young people and took a photo with us and the gator flag.
Photo by http://www.elianafrench.com/

Gator Nation is Everywhere!
Eli and Ama went back to the cafe to leave and I stayed with Lexi and Alex S that joined us to find a picture of the Pacha Mamma temple for her dad. It has a really nice mix of cut and uncut stone that she thought he would enjoy as an architect. It was a maze though so we ran around for a bit but it was a lot of fun exploring. Eli and Ama left down the mountin so Leci had to hike down but Alex said he would go with her. Their bus left two hours before ours so Mihael and I explored more. We walked over to the sun gate which was a solid 40 minutes away. We couldn’t really see Machu Picchu from the gate but we could see the bottoms of the gate were we started at 4:30 in the morning so we were very proud. I could sit on the mountain forever. We had to head back down to catch our train though.

At the Sun Gate. In the background you can see the tracks were we started the hike and Wannu Picchu where we saw another glorious view from the top.
I picked up a few stones for Lexi on the way out and we grabbed much needed water at the cafe. We were some of the only people on the trail going downhill. Partially because it was late and most people leave at 2 and also because everyone else was pretty tired and couldn’t take straight downhill. As we were going down and thinking and talking about deep thoughts, we realized how hard we went in the morning. If it was hard to go down without taking breaks we must have been so high of off excitement before. During the walk to the city, we ran across another couple who were distracted by what they thought was a bird. It was making very strange noises so Mihael thought it was a train worker.

We eventually made our way back to the hostel were we changed and tried to clean ourselves off. They were going to charge 40 soles to shower in their nasty shower so I baby wiped myself off.

We found the train station before going to find dinner. We ended up at a French cafe where I had a ham and cheese pastry and mihael had a croque Monsieur. We are very fancy. I had a lemonade and Mihael had pineapple juice but his was so much better than mine. Pineapple juice for life! It was very fresh. On the note of juices, peach juice has also become one of my favorite things.


At the cafe before the train.
At the train station we ran into the other half of boy Lombardis and we all boarded together. It was a nice train and they came around and gave us drinks and a pastry. It was a little more than two hours. There was this pipe music throughout the entire train so it made it difficult to do anything, sleep or listen to music, other than talk. Mihael said there wasn’t enough leg space to fall asleep.

After the train, we all got off and found Loki hostel lady with a sign directing us to the bus to Cusco. It was another 2 hour drive but they turned off the lights so we could nap. They dropped us off right in front of Loki so I met Lexi in our room. She vented about her part of the trip before I took a warm shower (that weirdly cut off in the middle) before meeting Pat at the bar at the hostel for his 21st birthday. We didn’t stay out for too long because we had been up since four and walked 17 miles! But long enough to wish him Happy Birthday before going to bed. Lexi and I had a private room and she gave me the big bed but I didn’t move or touch the other side the whole night. A good nights rest is all that I needed.

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