A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random global adventures,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

inca trail adventures: day 2 OR the slowest most boring game of tag ever

over a lovely breakfast of quinoa porridge, our fearless guide explained to us that the second day of the inca trail is the hardest.  it is about a 14 km hike, and the first 4 or so hours are a steep uphill climb.  yay! 

at this point in time i'd like to discuss the make-up of our group.  there was the bolshevik and i, both young fit whippersnappers.  then there were two gentlemen in their late 40s early 50s.  and get this ... they were both librarians!  3 out of 7 members of our group were librarians.  crazy!  anyway, then there was a man traveling alone who was 60.  and then there was an older british columbian couple, we believe the woman was in her mid to late 60s, and the man his early 70s.  so the bolshevik and i are thinking that we are going to be the shining stars of this group, no?  i mean, these people are old, right?  how can they compete with the likes of us?

well, as soon as i put my backpack on i was feeling not-so-hot.  the soreness from the day before was creeping in, and i had a long road ahead.  no sooner than we started, the elderly british columbians shot up the mountain, out of sight for the rest of the day.  granted, they weren't carrying anything (nada.  more about this later), but still you'd think that a backpack would at most be an equalizer between us and two senior citizens.  not so.  these guys kicked our asses.  they made it to the top hours before us.

the first hour or so of the hike was pleasant, even with the steepness.  we were suddenly surrounded by a completely different type of environment:  huge trees with big broad green leaves, beautiful flora and fauna, lovely shaded areas.  it was difficult, and every few minutes we would need to take a little break to catch our breath, but overall it was so beautiful it was a fine experience.

and then came the steps.

after a while we were confronted with stone steps.  now, let me elaborate ... these are not stairs made out of stone.  these are crude step-like structures that have very uneven surfaces and vary greatly in spacing and height.  due to the uneven-ness, we had to take the steps extremely slowly, and often they were so high i needed to step up onto them, as though i was climbing onto something.  this was extremely tiring, then add the fact that i'm carrying all my crap on my back, it was downright exhausting.  also, during this portion of the trek, we seemed to lose the beautiful fauna and foliage of the morning, and were now in the beating hot sun.  fun!

soon, the bolshevik and i found ourselves shuffling along very slowly like slipper-clad inhabitants of a nursing home.  we would take a few small steps and then rest.  then shuffle our feet a bit more, and then rest.  we were moving, as our fearless guide would say, "slow like pregnant turtles."

but then dear blog readers, the bolshevik and i created a silly new game.  we call it The Slowest Most Boring Game of Tag Ever.  the rules are similar to regular tag.  one person is "it" and he or she must tag the other person, making them "it."  however, instead of running around and being chased and other fun aspects of tag, we were instead very very very slowly trudging up an extremely steep mountain path in the andes.

it went something like this:
bolshevik: [three feet behind me, and speaking in an old person's voice] i'm gonna get you, miss dewey decimal.  i'm hot on your trail!
me: [trying in vain to stay out of arms reach, while also speaking in an old person's voice] oh no you don't, bolshevik!  you'll never catch me!
[bolshevik eventually is able to gain a foot or two and tag me, then pass about three feet in front of me]
me: [waving a fist in the air] oh you bolshevik!  i'll get you yet!

and so on and so on, one of us very slowly passing the other every few minutes.  not to continually reference bugs bunny cartoons, but it was very much like that one where bugs bunny goes to the mad scientist's castle and a bottle of ether is somehow knocked over during a chase scene, and the mad scientist says "Come back ... here ... you ... rahhhh ... bittttt."

anyway, after two hours of these painstaking steps we eventually reached the top of the mountain.  quite literally, we were on a very pointy bit of mountain with nowhere to go but down.  it was very satisfying to finally make it to the top, and we took a nice long break once we got there, snacking on luna bars.

then when it was time to go down the other side, we thought it would be a snap to go downhill.  NOT SO!  although it was certainly less tiring, since it didn't cause us to huff and puff like going uphill did, it was very challenging.  the entire two-hour hike downhill was also solely comprised of these uneven stone steps.  and as much as i wanted to walk down them quickly, as i would regular steps, it was impossible for fear of tumbling down several miles of rocky terrain.  every so often there would be a flat bit of path where we could walk at a normal speed and it felt like we were flying along, or maybe possibly gliding on roller skates.   either way it was a long journey to our camp, where again we passed out soon after dinner.

end of day two.


  1. good thing you watched so much TV in your youth- sounds as if this early hobby gave you the resources needed to face the challenge of the Andes.

  2. yes, thankfully all that TV watching in my younger days has given my quite the cornucopia of pop culture references to fall back on. and it's certainly helped my trivial pursuit skills ;)

  3. i wonder if you saw my uncle on the trail. apparently, he was doing the hike at the same time you were! small world indeed.

  4. wow, that is a small world indeed! i probably did see him at some point. often the different groups were stopping at the same campgrounds for lunch, or taking a break at the same rest areas. crazy.

  5. okay, this is flippin hilarious...not that I'm getting any pleasure from your pain, but I do so enjoy hearing about your lovely adventure. In fact, I wish I could be there, too, and am living vicariously through you...uh, without the sore muscles and aching back, that is.

  6. Thank you for your references to both slipper-clad nursing home inhabitants and roller skates. I, for one, am completely fulfilled.

    And sorry, Kariek. I don't know you, but I can clearly see your dedication is lagging. Reading these posts with sore muscles & an aching back--in honor of our vicarious host organism--is the only way to go! ;)

    So, what happened with those filthy, cheating British Columbian pensioners?

  7. **miss dewey decimal disclaimer**
    although i appreciate people living vicariously through me, i do not condone giving yourself sore muscles and aching back on account of little old me ;)

    don't worry miss fifi, i have made an entire post about the british columbians. (and at one point i did wonder if they somehow cheated. like maybe they knew a shortcut or something?)

  8. Disclaim all you want, Miss Dewey Decimal. I'm a believer! ;)

    I'm slowly catching up to the post about those crime-ridden British Columbians. I just know they're drug smugglers.

    When you get home, you should create your own puzzle based on "Where's Waldo," depicting all the characters of your South American adventure, then give one to all your friends. Wow, here I am, just tryin' to get stuff again....