Another 6am wakeup, with Alex feeling slightly better than last night. We attempt to transfer more of the load to my bag, which is difficult given that it’s filled to the point of explosion with the sleeping bags. We then start the slog up towards the second pass, stopping to look at the Runkurakay ruins along the way.
We stop at the second pass and take silly photos, momentarily excited with the fact we have clear views, and are surrounded by snow-capped mountains – the highest, Mount Veronica, sitting at 5682m. Wandering onwards we stop at the Sayaqmarka site, and then off along some of the more beautiful sections of trail – unfortunately it’s becoming cloudy though. Or atmospheric. Yes, it was becoming increasingly atmospheric.
I stare majestically off into the distance at the second pass
After crossing another pass things start to get even more atmospheric though. So atmospheric that small drops of water start to fall from the sky – in a casual way at first, then with increasingly more committment. Starting downhill, we reach Phuyupatamarca ‘the town above the clouds’ and wish it really was above the clouds, as then this rain would have no way to get to us – as promised, its the most impressive ruins we’ve seen so far along the trail, but as the rain gets heavier we don’t stop to admire them for too long, and keep heading down.
We then hit the ‘gringo killer’, a section of staircase even steeper than the descent from Dead Woman’s Pass yesterday, as we descend from Phuyupatamarca at 3650m to WiÃ±ay Wayna at 2700m. We’re all getting soaked through, and just want to get down and dry, as the stairs seem to last forever, and the clouds only occasionally part to give us tanalising glimpses of a view. Down down down, down down down, drip drip drip.
Happy wet trekkers
Finally we reach WiÃ±ay Wayna (Quechua for ‘forever young’, named after a pink orchid which grows in the area). It isn’t as bad as it had sounded in the description we were given (hot showers, and a … discotheque?), as everything is spread out over terraces on a very steep hillside. Although there are hundreds of us crammed into this campground, you really wouldn’t know it – especially as everyone just wants to dive into their tents and get warm. After afternoon tea we wander out to the bar/discotheque, and are amused at the dodginess, before returning to the food tent at 7pm. After dinner there is cake (cake!) and speeches, and songs (a rousing rendition of Beatles – Help! from us is countered by a Quechua song from the Chaskis).
Then we go to huddle in our tents. The rain has stopped, but we still feel damp, everything drips, and we lie in our sleeping bags hoping the rain and clouds stay away tomorrow – as tomorrow is our push to Inti Punku (the Sun Gate), and Macchu Pichu.