Google Tag Manager icon Inca Trail: Ascent to Dead Woman's Pass Skip to main content


Inca Trail: Machu Picchu

  Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world.  Visited by 1.5 million visitors each year, people from all over the world travel great distances by plane, train and then bus to be here.  Many are checking off bucket lists.   During the week before hiking the Inca Trail, we talked to an older couple from Canada who had just returned from their hike.  We asked whether the journey to Machu Picchu had been worth it?  The guy laughed and said that the Inca Trail was amazing but not to fall in love with the idea that Machu Picchu was going to be some kind of climax to the hike.   "It's amazing, don't get me wrong," he said.  "But it doesn't compare to the hike itself."   We didn't really understand until we were standing at Machu Picchu.  In many ways, it wasn't different from the other ruins that we had seen:  just on a grander scale.  It did have a more colorful name.  Machu Picchu translates to "Old Penis." Most people in the U.S

Inca Trail: Ascent to Dead Woman's Pass

I woke the next morning to a flat inflatable sleeping pad, which isn't ideal, but I had a good night's rest. Our alarm clock was one of the pack animals braying just behind our tent.  A few minutes later, a porter came by with a tub of hot water for washing, soap, and cups of steaming coca tea.

We had a quick breakfast and  started hiking just before 7 a.m.  Julia and I were excited for the big day.  Our camp was at 3100 meters (10,170 feet).  Dead Woman's Pass tops out at 4215 meters (13,828 feet).  P still wasn't eating but was determined to power through.  

All smiles on the way up

Within the first hour, we entered high altitude jungle--full of mossy trees and vegetation that you would normally expect at much lower elevation.


On flat ground or downhill, the porters easily outpaced us.  But this day was all up and steep.  The porters frequently took breaks and we took turns passing each other.

The guy in the above photo was hiking very slowly and deliberately--never taking a break.  We learned from his friends that he was still getting over an extreme case of food poisoning, but there was no "quit" in him.  

Taking a break
Julia re-hydrating

When we stopped at 9:30 a.m. for for the last Gatorade stand on the trail, it was about half-way to the summit.  Temperatures were cooling quickly, and the views were opening up.


greg said…
Going back over my stuff I think the highest I've ever managed to hike just might get me up to Dead Woman's Pass. That was a while ago but I think the age thing might be offset by the fact that I'm in better shape now than then.

It's good to see that it's all smiles up there.

Looking forward to the next installment
John said…
I've only managed to nudge over 14,000 feet twice, and both were on Colorado's Gray's Peak, which is the easiest of all of the 14k peaks because the trailhead starts at 11k. It's got to be satisfying that you're in better shape now than then.

Popular Posts