Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

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Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby srayner » Wed May 04, 2011 8:29 pm

Hello,

My husband and I are going to be trekking the Inca Trail in July and I am starting to get a little nervous about our fitness level. We walk alot and are very comfortable hiking for long periods of time, but we are a little over weight and not in great shape. We have been going to our local ski hills and climbing those for an hour at a time a couple times a week. We are still out of breath by the time we reach the top. Any advise? If we are in trouble, please let me know. It will get our butts in gear! For those of you who have already been how steep is the trek? Is it a continuous uphill climb? any advise to help calm my nerves (or get me going) would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Very Excited, tee bit nervous :)
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby IncaTrail50 » Wed May 04, 2011 9:24 pm

Relax! My husband and I hiked the Inca Trail for our 50th birthdays. He was in pretty good shape but I was not. I was 30 pounds overweight but, like you, had done a lot of walking. The key is determination. Our guides were absolutely wonderful. I was always the last into breaks, lunch, and camp at night. They told me it was not a race. I was only up against myself. They told me to make it my trip, not to worry about anyone else. Whenever I stopped to gasp for breath (oh, so common at altitude!) they would take time to comment further on the trees, birds, or soaring mountains to comfortably fill the time until I could continue. When we finally finished the bulk of the trip, were past the several extremely difficult mountain passes, and had arrived at the camp the night before Machu Picchu, I fell into my tent and collapsed. I didn't even have the strength to go to dinner. Both guides came to my tent and congratulated me and hugged me and told me what a great job I had done getting there! It was amazing!
The trail can be ridiculously steep! However, don't look up or down, look out at the mountains, the view. Our guides always referred to the trail as "undulating" and if you went up and then down the same height (even if it was so steep you needed handholds) they referred to it as "more or less flat"!! You would never keep up the climb at home in familiar territory because it is too hard. But in Peru, among the Inca ruins, with guides telling you stories of the past Inca families and their children who traversed the high passes, looking at the scenery, the misty fog that shrouds the nooks and crannies, well, you have more stamina than you could ever imagine.
Yes, it's a crazy high climb but it's just as crazy on the way down. Rent the collapsible trekking poles! None of the stairs are even in height. I have never enjoyed anything as much as I did that hike. I have also never worked as hard. Enjoy!
Kim
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby eric » Thu May 05, 2011 3:21 pm

Hi,

Looks ok! Don't expect to go running past the porters, or even be at the front of the tourists.

But from what you say I don't expect you to be struggling at the back, miles (kilometers)
behind everyone else.

What no one bothers to tell you is the actual miles (kilometers) on the map you cover
each day are very small. Pathetic even.

Its just a slow steady plod for quite a few hours each day.

Cut the weight in your day pack down to the minimum - layers of thin quick dry clothes &
a rainproof / windproof top thats not particularly heavy.

Ensure you have plenty of battery power & cards for your camera. So frequent brief stops can be seen as stops for photos of the view.

Regards

Eric / London / England
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby ballu » Thu May 05, 2011 7:28 pm

Go at your own pace, there will be times you hate it, but it will all be worth it. If you're the last in your group, who cares, somebody has to be. The worst section is on Day 2...there's a 5 hour climb up to dead woman's pass. The rest is an up/down. You've done more training and it sounds like you're in better shape than I was.

I sprained my ankle and was the last in my group every stop. Just enjoy (and partially hate at times) your experience and don't worry about anyone else. My favourite stretch was because I was behind everyone. There was a point when I saw no one for an hour or two...just me and the trail.
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby soohiang » Tue May 10, 2011 11:25 am

I am very encouraged by the people who made it to the Macha Pichu despite their fitness level is below average :)

I have climbed several mountains eg in Nepal, Korea, Europe, UK, US and Malaysia. That was when I was younger. Recently I tried to climb a mountain in Korea and the uphill was not a problem but I found downhill a great challenge because it means using a different set of muscles and it affected my knees. Nowadays I find that my right knee hurts slightly even on level ground. Can anyone please advise me whether I should embark on this adventure?

I would love to do the Inca Trial but is the easier route less to see? Please advise me from a health point of view whether I should join this walk as I really would like to join this tour
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby thecakeisalie » Tue May 10, 2011 1:05 pm

soohiang wrote:I have climbed several mountains eg in Nepal, Korea, Europe, UK, US and Malaysia.


Nobody will be able to decide if you should do a tour based on health, that's entirely up to you, but based on the experience you've listed I doubt the Inca Trail will pose any more difficult challenges than you've already faced. It will seem hard while you're doing it, but in hindsight it wasn't all that hard. Day 1 is relatively flat for most of it, and then a somewhat steady uphill to the first night's camp. Day 2 is the toughest, as you've got about 5 hours of straight uphill, followed by another 2-3 hours of downhill to the camp. If your knees are bothering you, this is where you would want trekking poles to take some of the weight off (and on Day 3 as well). Day 3 is a long day of up and down (about 10 hours if I remember correctly), but not as demanding as the day before and probably the most scenic of the trail. Day 4 is a cakewalk by comparison, two hours to the Sun Gate and then the hike into Macchu Pichu.

The knee pain you have now could just be tendonitis, it happens to a lot of people as they get older (myself included) on things they used to be able to do pain free. I came back from Patagonia not long ago and my knee still hurts a bit on occasion, but stretching, icing and resting after a hike usually helps.
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby markmol » Wed May 18, 2011 7:45 am

hi i did the inca trail last year, i am 51 & did a bit of training with my daypack on filled with water, camera & jacket, when i got to Peru our guide was fantastic, he said he never saw anyone with altitude sickness but plenty of people with attitude sickness, walk at your pace & look around & admire the views
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby Zuleika » Wed May 18, 2011 12:57 pm

To be brutally honest I think you need to up your fitness levels by quite a bit more. Gradually increase your walking practise especially up the hills. There is a lot of up, especially on day 2. The fitter you are the more enjoyable the trek will be for you. You dont want to spend the whole time struggling to breath and having to stop and start. You have enough time to get fit if you start now. If you can do 3 or 4 hours of steep up then you can imagine what day 2 on the trek will be like.
Goodluck, its an awesome trek!
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Re: Inca Trail - Fitness Level. Ekk. Getting Scared

Postby eric » Wed May 18, 2011 5:59 pm

Hi Soohiang,

A deep breath, & a lot of thoughts.
At the end of the day its a holiday. At the end you come home fit & well. Happy thoughts. Happy memories. Lots of photos.

From what you say I'm worried about your knee.
If you went as you are, even with lots of knee support, trek poles etc etc, it sounds like
you won't complete it enjoyably.
If you did lots of hard training now I wouldn't be surprised to learn you had made matters worse...

I did the (full) Inca Trail about 10 years ago. Theres lots of long descents, you won't enjoy that.
(We had to help our Peru tour guide down - they had severe knee problems).

What to do? Obviously didn't do it, BUT did look at the short route.
We met it in our last day. At a place named Winay Wayna (various spellings).
At this point there is a very good Inca Site. A large building - Cafe - Rooms (not the Ritz) & I guess camping.

I was told the "short route" came to here. It looked a reasonably easy afternoon walk up from the railway in the valley below. Over night here. Then its about 2 hours walk "flatish" (well compared to the long ups & downs we had done) via the "Sun Gate" to MP itself.

I think you should seriously research this option. You will come home in good condition, should have good photos of Winay Wayna, and the route onto MP.

Plus that should give you a couple of days (more than the rest of the group doing the traditional trail) to see some more Inca sites in the Cuzco Area.

Hope this helps.

Eric / London / England
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