The alarm went off too soon but time wasn’t going to wait for me. I got my things together and headed to our meeting point, ready for battle. It was pitch black and the stars were shined brilliantly in an abundance that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I stayed quiet and focused. Once our group gathered, we headed back towards the mountain that we descended on Day One. Breakfast wouldn’t be served until our arrival to the summit (to prevent anyone from getting sick or vomiting.) I had no idea it was going to be this intense. I started in on a cereal bar but after a few steps up the mountain, the rest of my breakfast went straight into my pocket. I followed Laurine’s every footstep ahead of me, knowing that I had to stay focused.
Every move that I made counted, exerted energy; and I only had so much to give to get me the heck out of this thing.
It quickly occurred to me- baby steps, literally. The shorter the steps, the better to save my poor legs from giving way. Step on one rock to get to another. Make your inclines shorter.
Fifteen minutes in, we already lost the boy and his mom. The guide begged them to take mules but she absolutely refused. My greatest dream came true though. Our guide was forced to stay behind with the mom and son. I was now free to go at my own pace with my friends.
Then it clicked. This was worth it.
Reasons danced around in my head, motivating me to complete this trek like I so rightfully deserved to. I ascended feeling more and more powerful mentally and spiritually despite the gradual decline I suffered physically. We kept pace with a few other groups along the way and I knew we were doing great.
5 Reasons Why I Trekked the Colca Canyon:
- To do what I believe I can, even if others doubt me.
- I don’t deserve to be doubted.
- I was born to be an athlete, whether I realize it or not.
- I deserve to wake up with the mountains and the sun.
- To be the person I want to be, I have to act like it. If I want to be strong enough to climb out of a canyon, then I have to do it!
We constantly had to stay alert for the mules passing by, who could accidentally step on you if you weren’t paying attention. The poor animals were heavy in breath and sweat after not even reaching the halfway mark. I couldn’t imagine how guilty I would have felt if I took one, nor how nervous I would be if he would fall or trip by clumsiness or exhaustion. The trail was wide enough not to scare me, but narrow enough that falling was a possibility if you were get too sick or lose balance.
The sunrise reflected onto the dark mountains and it was such a sight to behold. At that moment, I felt so grateful: for this opportunity, for these friends, for nature, for my life. These realizations and inspiration- that is why I trekked the Colca Canyon. This trek made me a better person.
We reached the halfway point but eating was certainly not in the cards for any of us. We wanted to get out of this thing as soon as possible. We couldn’t stop for long either, as it was quite cold and we didn’t want our muscles to cool down.
Soon we were faced with the dangerous part of the trek, which we were not warned about until we already in the middle of the canyon on day two with no other option to get out. The section of the “trail” was subject to falling rocks due to the landscape and construction. Our guide advised us to cross with another group since he would be far behind us. When I was faced with the severity of the situation, I was absolutely furious and panicked. My sister nearly died because she was struck by a rock in the head while she was hiking. A priest was in the hospital to pronounce her death and pray with her. Her skull had to be reconstructed and this was one of the scariest moments that my family ever faced. My parents would have my head for doing this.
Here I was, faced with a completely unexpected obstacle to say the least. With guides at each end rushing us across the pass, I knew now was not the time to cry or lose it. I had to stay focused for my own safety. One false twitch of the body, and I would be plummeting down this mountain to the bottom of the canyon. The path ended, and after the girl in front of me went, it was my turn. For about 20 meters, there was nothing but a 6 inch ledge of pebble gravel and dust that moved when you stepped on it. One foot in front of the other as quickly as possible was the task.
I made it to the other side and immediately burst into tears out of relief. Angry again with the lack of reponsibility on the part of everyone involved in these tours, I focused on my goal, wiped my tears, and carried on.
The last one third of the trek was the worst. I was just…so…tired. Towards the end, I could only go one bend- a zig and a zag, and stop. We were so close. Toward the top, these enormous insects with long needle noses followed us incessantly. Another girl began to cry. We all had our weaknesses. I picked up my pace to get the heck away from those things. Finally, we arrived to the top. I was walking like a zombie. Small half steps, dragging my feet, nothing left to give. We made it in three and a half hours, which was the exact target pace. I coughed and coughed and collapsed onto the bench. I made it.