I’m holed up in my hotel room. It’s really not a bad view, but it’s making me think of one particular backpacker we met this week.
Beth is travelling Peru at the moment with a lifelong friend – and two new friends they met while here. We had the pleasure of hanging out with them during our two day trek in the Colca Canyon.
The first day was straightforward enough. 3 miles downhill about 1000 metres, and another 7 along the undulating canyon. (side note – my phone autocorrected “undulating” as “infuriating).
What made it hard was the heat, and the food provided for us being not enough. It was good, but exactly half of what we needed.
Day 2 was the real challenge. Starting at about 2000 meters above sea level, we had to climb 1300 meters in 3 miles. Before breakfast. At 5am. In the dark.
This is what we climbed – up that windy path to the tree in the v.
It wasn’t surprising that some of us really struggled. Normally I go at the back – but I felt the need to go ahead at my own pace. I sustained this until about 7, when I had a break and Sarah and Beth caught me up.
For 60 soles (£13) you could hire a mule to take you up. This was straightforward to do, especially as our guide was behind everyone to make sure the slowest were all ok – and the mules passed us regularly.
While I was ahead I was sorely tempted by the offer, but declined on the basis that I had a much tougher trek ahead of me and I needed the confidence boost, and I would be really embarrassed if Sarah didn’t also take one…
Sarah stuck with Beth all the way of the climb. Our guide was really pushing them to take mules. It took all their energy to decline. Sarah needed to remind Beth of her desire to climb under her own steam. She so wanted to give up.
But she grinned and bore it.
They caught me up, we got to half way. Inch by inch, foot by foot, we got higher and higher. I hit a low point at 7, and wanted to stop.
We all made it up the hill at about 8am.
We were all fairly emotional afterward.
As Dick Beardsley said “no matter how high your mountain, never ever give up.”
For Beth, the regret of not walking would have remained with her, but the awesome feeling of having achieved her goal will stay with her for life and power her on. The mountain was literally her mountain.
What does that have to do with me today?
Estoy muy cansado. I’m tired, and not feeling great.
Lake titicaca is a beautiful place. The highest navigable lake in the world, at 3000 metres.
We had signed up to do a full day tour of the islands, including one of the more remote ones. Sarah’s gone ahead and done it. But I need the rest.
But thinking about Beth’s courage, I’m gonna grab the day and do as much as I can.
My mountain is to make the most of the day.
I’ll sign up for a shorter tour – I will always regret not going.
I’ll try to make it to a viewpoint – I will always regret not going.
I’ll wander around town a bit – I will always regret not having tried to manage a foreign city without my travel buddy!
But if I try those things, in the face of how I’m feeling – that feeling will last. Even if I don’t make it.
I’m gonna climb my mountain.