(Elmo's 'Immortals' impersonation)
On the fourth day, we kicked Enty's ass. At around 3pm that afternoon, we were to take the train from the Hydroelectric Station to Aguas Calientes, the touristy town everyone goes through to reach Machu Picchu. Enty couldn't stress it to us enough that we were not to miss that train. There were two options to get from La Playa to the Hydroelectric Station, one was to hike three hours straight up hill to Llactapata (newly discovery Inca Site) which is famous for the “great condor view of Machu Picchu” before descending two and a half hours to the Hydroelectric Station. The other option was to bus it around the mountain rather than going up and over it by foot. Lynn decided to take the bus with the cooks (she no longer had her trusty horse, or as Enty calls it, the 4x4) the rest of us chose to hike it.
Because there is only that one train departing from the Hydroelectric Station Enty made us get up an hour earlier. Again, because of "Asian time" we ended up being the last group to leave the campsite. The going was slow for the initial portion of the hike. Just a flat trail to Lucma where we saw a bunch of cool looking vegetation. Did you know that a coffee bean is the pit/seed of a grape-like fruit? I had NO 'IDEAR'! I'm not a big coffee consumer, but all I've ever seen were the brown roasted beans. So while hiking the flatland portion, we came across the coffee plants. Enty picked one out, ripped it apart and sucked on the fruit surrounding the seed. He asked us to guess what it was and none of us could answer him. We each grabbed a few and tried it out. wasn't too bad, but I'm sure most of you would prefer to consume it as roasted bean liquid coffee.
By the time we reached Lucma half an hour to an hour later, my stomach was going nuts and I ended up running into the woods for a break let's just say I'm very fond of wetwipes, Elmo and I don't understand why we stopped using them. With the internal organs all proper, I was ready for the uphill. Unlike the previous days we were traveling light, we dumped all our backpacks on the bus with Lynn and the cooks so we wouldn't have to lug them up and down the mountain. We shared one small day pack, the Dakine Mission bag Elmo brought along. In it were small snacks for lunch and Kevin's diesel camera. Elmo, Tyler and I took turns carrying it uphill. Since none of us were as agile as Kevin, we didn't trust ourselves running with the backpack downhill. At the peak, we handed the bag with all our sweat over to Kev, he wasn't too happy about that.
Anyhow, we stormed up the mountain passing the other groups in the initial stages and stopping at sporadic locations for panoramic shots and for quick rests or to allow the rest of the guys to catch up. Really appreciated the lack of dust or horse droppings on the trail, only thing we had to look out for were the rocks. We reached the top of the mountain at 9am, completing the uphill portion in under two hours. Gave Enty a run for his money that day, cutting the usual time uphill by a third. We only stuck around Llactapata for 10 minutes or so since the clouds were obscuring the view of Machu Picchu. We proceeded further down to a lunch spot on the side of the mountain sprinting most of it like a time trial or pretending to be ninjas in the woods (please refer to Elmo's 'Immortals' costume). During that run when we started to lose Kevin and Enty, I was close to Elmo and yelled out a reference to Superbad (a bunch of us saw a sneak preview prior to our departure) and though I didn't get the exact quote right, he got it and started cracking up yelling at me to not make him laugh while we were sprinting down the hill. I was trying to quote Officer Michaels' [Out of breath] "That kid's a freak! He's the fastest kid alive!" which you can see in this trailer at 1:27. After our snack we chilled in some grassy meadow, Kevin got bored so he asked me to kick his ass a few times. He did get a couple of good knees on me though. All throughout the trip, I was able to avoid getting bit by bugs, but rolling around the grass for an hour and my legs were covered with bites.
By the time we were ready to continue our hike down, most of the groups we had passed earlier on the hike had retaken the lead. Kevin and I realized that wrestling wasn't a good idea, both of us were winded and had a tough time running. While Enty, Kevin and I rested at another lookout point further down the trail, Elmo and Tyler took it as an opportunity to catch up and pass the other groups and to build a buffer between us. By the time the three of us caught up to Elmo and Tyler they were 3/4 of the way down the mountain. Remember how I stated that we gained notoriety earlier on the trip for running the trail? At one point two ladies from another group heard us running down behind them so they hid behind a boulder. Elmo was in the lead at that point and when we reached the boulder, the two ladies jumped out to spook Elmo. I didn't see Elmo's reaction but I heard it was priceless. Elmo spent the rest of the trip trying to figure out how to get back at them.
After crossing another small footbridge, we took a break by the river which was insanely clean. Looking down into the water you could see straight to the bottom. The water was cold but welcomed after all the running earlier in the day. The final moments of the hike that day had us passing the artificial waterfall created by the Hydroelectric Station's outlet and a vehicular bridge to check in with the authorities there.
The town basically consisted of a few buildings on both sides of the train tracks. We stayed there for a few hours waiting for the train and eating our last meal by the cooks that had accompanied us on the trek. The ride to Aguas Caliente was pretty bad, some European lady sitting behind me had such bad body odor, the entire car stunk. Some local also sat right next to Lynn so the entire time we were referencing the mi scuzi Eurotrip clip. We did happen to go through a few tunnels which made the reference that much more authentic.
We roamed around the tourist town for a bit, got some cheap bread, got on the web for a bit and had dinner with Enty at a restaurant that has some agreement with Andean Life. While the tourists stay at a hotel, the tour guides were relegated to barracks above the restaurant. The same thing happened when we got on the train back to Cuzco. Tourists got on a separate car from the tour guides / locals. Anyway over dinner we were introduce to Enty's favorite drink, pisco sour. So if anyone ever meets him down in Cuzco, buy him one for us.
That night it was refreshing to take an actual shower and to sleep in a bed.
Photo Gallery: Day 4 by Kevin Boon aka Costner