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Making a Trail

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Machu Picchu has been on my bucket list since I learned about it in my high school Spanish class. It’s the main reason I dragged Mike to Peru in the first place. You can hike the Inca trail (4 day schlep) or get there by train, but either way they don’t call it a “pilgrimage” for nothing.
After successfully arriving in Lima, we flew into Cusco, then took a 20 minute taxi ride to the train station, then a 3.5 hour crawling train ride through the Andes that involves a manuever called “el zigzag” (I’ll let you figure it out), only to land in the town just below Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, where you take a 30 min harrowing switchback bus ride up to the top.
So after all of our journeying, I was scared of being disappointed. Then we walked into the park on beautiful afternoon and were greeted with this:
I know this sounds dorky, but I teared up at the site of it. I lied and told Mike the sun was in my eyes and I needed to take pictures with my sunglasses on.
That first afternoon we spent just wandering around the park. The ruins are impressive, but the natural beauty of the Andes, the sound of the rushing river below, and the ever-present silver clouds make this place remarkable. It’s not surprising that the Incas worshipped the mountains.

The first day we did a small hike to an old Incan bridge that is now off limits, and for good reason. (The wooden planks were put there after the stonework fell apart).
It was a great afternoon just taking it all in and exploring the ruins, and we were saving our energy for the next morning…