On the third day, we gained notoriety. Unhappy with our dismal performance thus far, the group decided that we would run the trail. Enty also caught on to our 'Asian time' and made us get up an hour earlier than the previous day. Guess it helped because we left the campsite right after the other groups. Five minutes into the hike we ended up running past the other groups and continued running in bursts throughout the day. As always the scenery was amazing and I'll let Kevin's photos do the talking. However you'll notice that the photos taken on Day 3 pales in volume compared to the other days. Two reasons for this, 1) we were running most of the time so Kevin didn't have a chance to snap any photos, 2) the last portion of the hike was pure hell, more about that later.
Initially the run was mostly downhill, we tried following Enty's steps closely placing our hiking boots between the rocks (or at times on a big rock) and avoiding the horse droppings, nothing out of the ordinary. The trail wound its way down the mountain we camped on bringing us to a fairytale-like setting. A river flowed gently beneath a bridge winding its way between boulders before merging with a few other rivers downstream. Our very own Pittsburgh "Golden Triangle" in the middle of Peru. There were still pools of water by large boulders sporadically placed in this area tempting me to dive in for a bath. On one side was the mountain we had descended from, on the other side, a mountain which we were to ascend (and descend / ascend repeatedly).
Soon after leaving the fairytale area, Enty went into a full out sprint towards a lookout point. We passed a small village, a dead horse and a chicken followed by some chicks. Guess it's true that you lose control of your bladder when you pass away. The horse laid on its side, it's excrement surrounding its hind quarters. We rested for a bit at the lookout point taking in the scenery allowing our heart rates to return to normal.
Fully rested we ran further down the mountain range until we came across a rickety footbridge leading to a pool of naturally hot water which emptied out into a small creek. The footbridge was third-world dangerous. The main span consisted of a few logs tied together anchored on both sides by nothing more than gravity (it looked like it was just resting between rocks). The planks placed over it were sporadically tied down to the main span so only every few feet, was there a secure plank to walk on. It didn't help that the planks were resting on different angles, following the contours of the logs making up the main span. Beneath the bridge were giant rocks, far enough below and sharp enough to do some major damage should you take a dive. What was most upsetting though was a used package of Head and Shoulders shampoo dumped to the side near the pool of hot water. Guess it was too much trouble for the bather to hold onto a small empty plastic package for the rest of the hike.
We hiked further into the forest for a few more hours. Undulating hills, a small waterfall and more horse poop than you can shake a stick at. At one point, we finally broke out of the trail onto a larger dirt road. The dust kicked up by the horses was wrecking my body (guess who's allergic to dust) and while the first day was physically hard, the final section of this day was mentally taxing. Kevin was about 100 meters ahead of me, his figure camouflaged at times by the dust and at other times hidden by the bends in the road. The rest of the crew followed close behind me. At this point, I tried setting my body on autopilot, allowing my legs to do its thing putting one foot in front of the other. But my runny nose and the occasional sneeze wouldn't allow me to get into the zone.
Afraid to upset the routine my legs had adopted, I tried in vain to reach my Nalgene bottle in my backpack. But no matter which arm I used or how I bent it, I couldn't extract the bottle from the bottom pocket. After 10 minutes I finally gave up and pulled off to the side of the road, in the shade of the mountain. While I pulled out the bottle and finished off the last remaining drops of water, the rest of the crew walked up and together we walked on until we reached the village's (La Playa) entrance where Kevin sat waiting for us.
So close, and yet so far. Our spirits were momentarily up when we reached the village entrance only to sink after realizing our campsite was a good 20 minutes down the road. When we finally got there, we all dropped our backpacks on the blue tarp and settled into the bench where we were to eat dinner. Bottles of water in hand, we waited patiently (or dozed off) while the others took showers in the single unit shit and shower stall. The water was frigid, but welcomed after the latter part of the day's desert-like hike.
That evening, completely refreshed from the first shower in three days we had some fun throwing our bodies around for Kevin's camera. Check out Elmo's Dhalsim!
Photo Gallery: Day 3 by Kevin Boon aka Costner