South America is home to many spectacular sights, both natural and manmade, but few -if any- capture the imagination and test the limits of visitors like Peru’s Machu Picchu. After taking part in the Inca Trek this fall, 11th grader Amy E. assessed her own experiences and compiled the following pieces of advice for anyone else planning on undertaking the hike of a lifetime.
1. Do not hike the Inca Trail
Photo by Oskar K.
The Inca trail is one of those once in a lifetime treks that people dream of doing. That being said, it is not a trek for everyone, and that’s perfectly fine.
2. If you insist on doing #1, read #3
3. Do not sprain your ankle while hiking said trail
A sprained ankle is quite painful, trust me, I speak from having done this on the Inca Trail. It is easy to become injured while hiking, so checking and double checking things like your equipment are essential. Tie your boots tightly, make sure you re-tie them at each stop, they tend to loosen, and loose boots means no support, makes it easier to slip, and before you know it, you’ve been injured. Not to mention that if you can no longer walk, you have to get back to civilization somehow, and it will probably be on the back of a very sturdy horse determined to run you into every tree it can find.
4. Realize that even the Pro’s have trouble on the trail
Photo by Jen Buchanan
The Inca trail is among the hardest in the world, even according to the experts. Our guides have run a four-day trail route in a day and a half, and even they say that the hikes they take us on ar designed to challenge us. To make the hiker rethink their choices.
5. Realize that you are not a Pro
Most of us hiking the Inca Trail have never seen anything like it before, from the terrain to the weather to the altitude on the trail. There is no way to expect it, and no amount of preparation can truly prepare anyone for the journey that is hiking the trail.
6. Hiking is hard, and that’s cool
Photo by Jenna R.
There are times when everyone feels like giving up, stopping, going home. Once committed to the trail, the hiker must endure and persevere, because at the end of the day, you will be glad you did.
7. Drink water, all the time
Dehydration is a major concern when on the Inca Trail. The temperatures may be fluctuating between hot and dry to cold and rainy, but always be hydrated. Water every five minutes is a good rule, it also helps to cut down on #8
8. Don’t be afraid to water the rocks
Let’s face it, everyone is going to have to pee on trail at some point or other. Don’t be afraid to do it, because peeing on trail is much better than the alternative-a UTI or a yeast infection. Infections are not fun, so pee when your body tells you to, and make sure you pack toilet paper (and hygienic wipes if you’re female).
9. Expect four seasons
Photo by Tianxiao X.
In one day, I saw the weather on the trail go from hot and sunny in the early morning, to cloudy and overcast by mid-morning, to eventually raining before lunch. Wearing layers that can be taken off when you stop is a good idea, so that clothing can be added / removed when necessary. A rain jacket or poncho will become your best friend, and if you’re a poncho person, bring two just in case.
10. It’s an amazing thing to do, therefore you are amazing if you do it.
The above post originally appeared on Amy’s blog.