Day two is notoriously the hardest day of the trek. You reach the highest peak of the trail at Dead Woman’s Pass as the mountain kind of looks like a women’s upper half (hehe) from a distance. The fact is if you mentally prepare for this day, once again, it affects everyone differently.
The first bit is all up in the jungle until you reach the first of two last stores on the entire trail until Macchu Picchu. I was lagging it a bit as it was hot at first until we reached the last store, where everyone took a nice long break before the approximately 4 hour hike to the summit. Then came the hard part. I kept up with the other Americans for a while and we boomeranged around each other for a while, until I got on a good pace going for myself. It involved counting and taking 80 steps and then taking a 45second break. This went on for a while before I was tiring out and lowered it to 60 steps. At this point, I passed the British couple and the Canadian girl and wasn’t too far ahead of the American couple. I was almost at the top but tiring out even more, so lowered my steps to 50 and taking a 45 second break. This pattern worked well and I made it to the top, feeling pretty good! The part of the group that was already at the top was cheering me on as this was the first time on the trail that the groups started piling up against each other and each group would cheer their mates on.
Oh! I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this is a good day to mention them, but the porters were amazing! All the groups provided their porters with different color cover-ups or outfits, so you always knew who was part of what group. I would cheer them all on, but an especially loud cheer for the purple guys (they were with Gap). Those guys freakin’ hauled ass up the hill, it was kind of nuts how fast they can go. I liked that a common yell along the trail would be “porter” as they flew past us weaklings.
The second half of the day was the complete opposite, it was 2 hours of straight downhill, flying down Inca steps. This is where the porters flew and pretty much ran down the entire hill to beat us all to the next campsite to set. The steps were massive and it took me a while to get down them, but it was nice to be walking down after so long of walking up. At one point the guide linked arms with me and literally had me flying down the stairs, which was scarey but very fun. The campsite where all the groups stay is at the bottom of the hill and instead of stopping for lunch half way down, we just went all the way to the bottom and called it a day around 2pm. The porters had set up our campsite by the time we arrived and we all inhaled our lunch before retreating to our tents for an afternoon nap. Since there were three single girls on our tour, we each got the solo tent one night and shared with someone else the other two. I requested the solo tent for the second night, so I got to nap alone. It was funny hearing the shrikes from other campsites from the other groups, playing games and chatting while we all just crashed out. We had tea and then dinner and then back to bed before 8pm, same as before.
At this campsite, they had permanent barracks with squat toilets which is an adventure in itself, but proper sinks. But I still would highly recommend “toilet shoes” as the place is pretty much a mess, thanks to the amount of people that come through on a daily basis. And don’t EVER forget your toilet paper.
Also, I didn’t realize it the night before, but having two people in a tent was super helpful when it came to keeping warm. Since I am a light sleeper and knew day 2 was the hardest and day 3 was the longest, I specifically requested the solo tent on night two, thinking I would get a better night sleep. This was not the case at all. The sleeping bags Gap provided kind of sucked as they could not be unzipped all the way down the side, like I am used to and only had an open flap at the top. I spent most of the night alternating between too cold or too hot and as far as I know, didn’t get a wink of sleep. Also, when I woke up the next morning, I was in so much pain, thanks to the quick run down the steps for 2 hours. I was going to be in for a world of hurt for Day 3.
Moral: Once again, every day effects people differently, thanks to different factors. While I didn’t think day 2 was the easiest, I didn’t find it that bad, thanks to how I did the walk up hill in making lots of stops to rest. This is where my swimming training came in really helpful in taking “breathes” and breaks. It also helped that this was the shortest day as the walking started around 6am, but was finished by 2pm and included lots of breaks.