The air was crisp and thin at the start of our hike to heaven. The buses were all parked and guides were scurrying about gathering all their clients like mother hens. Each guide broke the tourists into groups and went on to get to the top of the mountain. Since we arrived so late, our guide told us we had to be back on the bus soon so we only had a few hours at the top. We new that time was of the essence and we had to hoof it! This being said….our guide took off…with the oxygen. I have never used it in my life or needed it hiking in Colorado, so I wasn’t worried, just a little nervous, and very aware to watch my breathing. The whole hike was a slow incline up the mountain. We packed both our bags with our thermals, fleece, and rain/windbreaker jackets. We also brought our snow gloves in case it snowed and jackets too. Well, we needed everything, okay…here we go!
We followed the herds of people from the parking lot and walked at a steady pace talking the whole way. Many people decided they were done walking and took rides on the horses offered. Men and women who lived nearby brought their horses and rode the tourists up the mountain while they walked on foot leading the way. Then, they would run down to catch their next fare, and they were all in sandals!! Impressive stamina. My goal was to not take a ride on the horse, not out of stubborness, I just felt the horses could use a rest. They looked super overworked. So on we walked and many people stopped to ask me if I wanted a ride in their horse. Chris was wonderful and ended up carrying my pack too, which I gave reluctantly. I didn’t want him to strain himself but he is super strong, and I am very grateful. I had to stop several times near the end and Chris noticed the trees stopped growing the higher up we were.
A lack of oxygen for the trees to grow was an interesting discovery. Seeing herds of llamas grading was quite enjoyable as well. The whole hike to the top was sunny and amazing. We reached the final hill and I was so excited. Chris looked at me and asked if I was okay and I said let’s do this! About 10-20 feet from the top I sat down and he sat with me. It was an insane feeling of helplessness. I literally had to go inside my mind and calm down the fear of not being able to breathe. I sat for what felt like forever which was a minute in reality and then took Chris’s hand to hold the whole way up. We did it! Success! Chris struggled breathing too and really held it together by staying calm. Our guide met us at the top and we told him about the asthma and he offered the oxygen. I figured since I made it, I didn’t need to put my mouth in something everyone used. We said thank you but we are okay. He replied we had 10 minutes to enjoy and head back down. We made it to the top in an hour and 41 minutes and thought we had more time. Surrounded by the beauty of the mountain, we just looked at each other, smiled, and relished in every second.
We took a ton of photos, well, as much as we could in the time frame. Then we changed into our snow clothes because the snow came in. On the way down it did get sunny and we did shed the clothing back to our original attire. This wonder is a must see if you are ever in Peru and near Cusco! We highly recommend it. I just wanted you all to know about the breathing factor…so you can be prepared. Everything was worth it to see these mountains. Everything!
Thank you for reading and I hope you have a happy, and safe, weekend!