October 28, 2005
There would be no relief from the relentless barrage of early morning wake-ups. This morning we had to get up at 5:45, right after dawn. Once again, I still felt sick. I think I slept a lot, but at soon as I woke up, I started coughing. I ate breakfast, took some drugs, and hoped for the best.
As soon as we started walking, I immediately felt better. The First Pass, the highest point of the entire trip at 4200 meters above sea level, was beckoning me, and I wasn't about to turn down her offer. I figured the illness would just make the challenge a little tougher to overcome, but I wouldn't let it take away from my enjoyment of the trip.
The first five hours of today's trek were almost completely uphill, but the pace was fairly slow, so it was easy to manage. After a water break about halfway up, I became completely focused on making it to the Pass. I could see it for hours, and slowly but surely, it got closer and closer.
Finally, I made it. The First Pass was a beautiful site surrounded by mountains. I could see for miles in every direction. The best part was that it didn't rain all day, which is very rare for this section of the trail. I did a little bit of exploring, but mainly I just sat down and enjoyed the moment. After we all made it up, we took a quick photo and began our descent.
We had to walk for two hours downhill to Paqaymayu, the second campsite at 3500 meters. I was worn out and my cold was making a conspicuous return, so I just tried to make it to the camp as fast as possible. We passed by a few waterfalls, but mainly the scenery remained the same as the top of the Pass.
After I got to the campsite, I ate a quick lunch and passed out in my tent. When I woke up a few hours later, I began coughing again. It was time for supper, so I ate as much as I could and called it a night. I saved just enough energy for the hike; I didn't have anything left to socialize with at night. Going to bed at 9:00 was becoming a regular thing for me.
The photo album for this entry is here.