From the get-go, we knew that day two of the trek was going to be the hardest. We had an eight our hike ahead as we summated the mountain and headed back down the other side.
After our “hike” during our horseback ride, I had decided that my lightweight trail running shoes would be a better choice for the first two days of the hike over my heavy hiking boots.
Day two was as challenging as it sounded on paper. We were headed uphill for most of the day. Staff member Sweet D had told us to just take one step at a time and to think about the hike that way, rather than as the entire hike. At one point, I came around a bend in the trail and Sweet D was waiting to tell each of us as we passed that we had just reached the summit of the Grand Teton in Wyoming, the highest point in the contiguous United States. With renewed energy, we continued our upward ascent.
We stopped several times for snack breaks and to gather the whole group together. Several of us also found that a quick photo break was a great way to catch a breather and appreciate that we were in Peru, and hiking up the side of a mountain.
We reached the summit and it was an incredible feeling. We were at 15,016 feet and had done it together. First Descents traditionally has a Baci bracelet ceremony at the end of camp, and we did this at the summit, exchanging Peruvian bracelets instead. Limbo and I tied each other’s bracelets on, and we all started the trek down the other side of the mountain.
About an hour later we caught up with our crew, who had set up a beautiful lunch for us on the side of the mountain. Again, we were eating lunch at a higher altitude than any spot in the contiguous United States. As we finished lunch, we noticed clouds blowing in and quickly got our packs on to continue down the mountain.
After another hour of hiking, the tents came into view. In another half hour, with the rain coming down we made it to our campsite. The crew set up a large dining tent and we had tea, followed by dinner and a campfire. We were all tired as we climbed into our tents that night!