I had been up hustling, with my headlamp aglow, between my soft, warm bed and the cool tiles of the bathroom floor.
And no, I wasn’t really feeling any better; in fact it felt as if I had taken an invisible sucker punch to the gut.
Alas, the show must go on and an eight mile descent from the “Peruvian Flats
” at 12,900 vertical feet to the Cloud Forest
at an elevation of 9,414 feet, was on the books for the day.
So I popped a few Imodium, sucked down some Gatorade, and strapped on my big girl boots, all while silently praying to the travel gods that there would be some good “potty breaks” on the trail.
Outside the sun’s early morning rays danced atop the razor sharp edges of the Vilcabamba Range
. Donkeys and mules brayed as porters loaded the animals with luggage, food and water. And although it was was crisp 32°, the heavy, wet air from the jungle that lay just below, mingled with the cool mountain air causing water particles to cling to what little oxygen they could find at nearly 13,000 feet above sea level.
It was a blue bird day, a complete 180° from the weather that the GBB encountered the day before crossing Salkantay Pass
. And as we trekked downhill the excited chatter and good-natured banter that had accompanied us during the first few days of the trip, returned.
It was no secret that I was feeling a little…ahem…shitty. So each time I fell behind for a “photo opp”, a series of fart noises would emanate from my brother, Tommy, as he wandered ahead, keeping pace with the group. Laughter would ensue and then I would be left in peace to take care of business.
As we descended, our scenery evolved from snow and ice and dramatic glaciers that nearly touched the sky, to a thick overlay of ferns and towering trees creating a canopy under which we strolled. Bulbous avocados littered the ground and hung heavy on drooping branches. Orchids, rhododendrons, Lady Slippers and Lupine decorated the scenery bringing a wide range of magentas, sky blues, happy yellows and oranges to the endless greenery.
As we reached our final destination, perched high atop a steep hill overlooking an orchid garden and the vibrant Colpapampa Valley, brightly colored hummingbirds flitted in and out and around our heads; perhaps in greeting, perhaps in defense, but nonetheless providing the group with a feeling of lightness and joy.
On a side note…don’t drink the water.