I can’t believe I leave for Peru in less than one week! I began my training exactly 12 weeks ago and oh, what a journey it’s been. When I started my training I pretty much viewed it as just stepping up my usual workout regime that I had already been doing for some time – the gym combined with hiking, and more recently yoga added to the mix. But this was the first time I had done one of the above nearly every single day for weeks at a time, and the way it has transformed me mentally and physically has inspired me to continue this as a lifestyle when I come back from my trip. So much so that I’ve decided that if the altitude sickness doesn’t kill me, I’d like to do Kilimanjaro next. Never in a million years did I think those words would seriously come out of my mouth, but I’ve already begun the research to plan the trip either next year or the year after.
A few things that have helped along the way with my training besides just my daily routine:
First, my job sent me to Denver! I took advantage of the opportunity and took a couple vay-cay days before my conference to explore the city (I had never been), reunite with an old sorority sister, go jogging at Red Rocks to experience some cardio at higher altitude, and finally, go hiking in the Rockies. The trail I wound up on took me to just over 10,000 ft. Not nearly as high as the staggering 15,000 ft that I’ll get to on the Salkantay trail, but it was the highest I’d ever gone so it was better than nothing. And surprisingly, I didn’t get sick at all. I’m crossing fingers that this means the chances of me getting extreme altitude sickness will be slim to none.
Hanging in downtown Denver with my sorority sister, being a tourist at RMNP, and enjoying the mountain views from a trail in the middle of RMNP.
But the fact that I didn’t get sick could also be because I took a Diamox pill the day before I went into the Rockies. If you don’t know about Diamox, let me give you all the gory details. Diomox is medication to help prevent altitude sickness. You start taking it 24 hours before your highest planned altitude. Your doctor and pharmacist will warn you that a side effect is frequent urination. What they won’t tell you is, when they say frequent, they mean frequent. After I downed the pill, I was having to pee every 15-30 minutes for about 8 hours straight until it finally got out of my system. It was miserable. I decided not to take any more and risk getting sick when I went into the Rockies. But since I didn’t get sick, there’s no way to know if the little Diamox that I took helped, so despite the bursting bladder, I plan on taking at least one pill while I’m in Cuzco before heading on my trek in Peru just to be on the safe side. I’ll just make sure that there’s always a toilet nearby.
Proof that you can never tell what’s really going on when someone posts a pic to social media. This was taken about 80% into my measly 1.5 mile jog around Red Rocks. My bladder was about to explode, but I sucked it up just to get the pretty photo-op. I had already peed in the porta-potty that was at the entrance of the park, then again at the porta-potty in the parking lot at the trailhead (about 10 minutes later), then half-way through the jog (and 5 minutes before this pic) at a porta-potty that I thankfully found where the trail intersected with the road. As soon as the pic was snapped, I sprinted off to the end of the loop and peed again.
I left Denver feeling far more confident about my ability to conquer the Salkantay trail, both from a physical fitness standpoint, and in terms of my ability to tolerate higher altitudes. Of course, there’s no way to tell for sure until I’m actually there, but if there’s one thing that is for sure, it’s that I’m far more ready for this trip than when I began my training 12 weeks ago. I spent today packing, and there’s nothing left to do other than continue my physical activity this week and somehow focus on work between now and my trip. Next time you hear from me, it’ll be on my return from Peru, and I can’t wait to share it!
PS – I’ve seen travel blogs that give advice on what to pack for various treks. I am by no means a real travel blogger, but I like this idea, so for my few followers who might be contemplating taking the 5 day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, here you go:
- 2 pairs hiking pants
- 3 pairs workout pants (also good for liners under hiking pants to layer up)
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 2 short sleeve shirts
- 3 tank tops
- Keen sandals
- hiking boots
- a ton of wick-underwear (my favorite is Adidas super lite – and no, I don’t get any kickbacks for this because my blog isn’t cool enough)
- a ton of Merino wool socks – my favorite is Darn Tough and Fit (also, no kickbacks here either)
- 2 sports bras
- 1 set thermals
- my Columbia 3-in-1 (fleece/rain jacket combo)
- wet wipes
- energy gels
- poop shovel that turns into a seat (seriously coolest thing ever)
- my 10-essentials kit (which I doubt I’ll need with a paid-for group, but better safe than sorry)
- headlamp and neck light
- toilet paper
- sunscreen, bug spray, anti-bacterial spray
- rain poncho
- trekking poles
- the almighty Diamox
Not pictured: swimsuit (in the laundry, and necessary for day 4 when we get to the hot springs), cliff bars and dates (my go-to hiking food but I need to stop at the grocery store sometime this week), small towel, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and all clothes for my time not on the trails.
There you have it! You now officially know everything I’ve done to plan/prepare/pack for this trip. Let’s hope it all pays off, and looking forward to sharing with you stories of my adventure upon my return!