Sunday the 18th of May 2003 – Day 89 (Day 2 of the Inca Trail)
Day 2 is supposed to be the hardest of the trek. Everyone says it. I was secretly looking forward to the challenge. We got up at 6.00am and had breakfast. The porters packed the tents and utilities and headed off. We started at 7.00am. The weather was good. The next ruins are at Llullucharoc (3,800m/12,540 ft.), about an hour’s steep climb from Huayllabamba. Llulluchapampa, an isolated village that lies in a flat meadow, is a strenuous 90-minute to 2-hour climb through cloud forest. There are extraordinary valley views from here. Next up is the dreaded Abra de Huarmihuausqa, or Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point on the trail and infamous among veterans of the Inca Trail. (The origin of the name–or who the poor victim was–is anybody’s guess.) The air is thin, and the 4,200m (13,700-ft.) pass is a killer for most: a punishing 2 1/2-hour climb in the hot sun, which is replaced by cold winds at the top.
For most of the way up and all of the way down we had freezing rain, wind and sleet. Poncos were put on, but of little use with this weather. It was really bad. Girls were crying, people were turning back. Cold and wet. We could not rest at the summit as the weather was too bad. No visibility. After the summit, the path descends sharply on complicated stone steps to Pacamayo (3,600m/11,900 ft.), where we camped for the night. We arrived there at 1.30 soaked throughout. My boots were wet, my pants drenched but my poncho had kept my back bag dry along with my mat and sleeping bag. We were all in the same boat. We were glad to eat lunch and have a quick power nap. After that we had dinner (I had brought a second small bottle of rum with me and amazingly (the others thought due to weight) a litre bottle of beer. The rum was added to hot water and lemon. Nice chats until bed (around 9.30). Not a great sleep to be honest. Total distance: 11km (7 miles).