The sun was shining, but I should have listened to my gut and worn a long-sleeved jersey for my ride. I had light goosebumps the whole 20 miles. They got a little bigger in the shady areas. Regardless, with just a week left until I head for Peru, I had to get some more exercise.
Sun-kissed fresh snow on mountain tops may be one of the most beautiful sights around, but it's one I am not ready for. This summer was fabulous (until about a month ago), but it didn't start until sometime in June, and has been far too short. I am looking forward to going back to spring, even if only for a few weeks.
I don't believe I've fully shared with you my travel plans, yet. I'll leave Anchorage midday on Saturday, September 28, and land in Lima, Peru mid-afternoon on Sunday, September 29. Although I have to clear customs in Lima, I won't leave the airport. Instead, I'll board another plane to Juliaca, and then a cab or local minibus to Puno, a little town on the shores of Lake Titicaca (yes, the name always makes me smile, too).
I will be spending three days/four nights in Puno, acclimating to 12,000+ feet and moving very slowly. The second full day I'm there, I want to take a boat tour of the floating reed islands and another nearby island populated by indigenous Quechua people, but mostly I just plan to wander around town and explore. For Thane, I also have to check out the Yavari, an old steamship that was turned into a museum. Breathe in, breathe out. What I'll really be focused on is breathing.
I'll fly from Juliaca to Cusco where I'll spend another three days on my own. I've been told by several people that this little city is fantastic to explore, so I'll just take my time and wander about. Really, I'll be acclimating to the altitude more as Cusco's still at over 11,000 feet. I anticipate a little early Christmas shopping will occur, too.
On October 6, I meet up with the group from Adventures in Good Company, the 12 women I'll be with for the next 10 days. We'll spend a couple of days in Cusco doing some guided wandering and more acclimating. Then we'll hike the Sancantay Trail for six days to Aguas Calientes, the town from which you approach Machu Picchu. After a day at MP and another exploring AC, we'll take the train back to Cusco. I suspect a train ride will be most welcome by then. I'll be spending one more day in Cusco before I begin the long trip home.
One week to go, and other than having my travel arrangements made, I have done nothing to get ready. Well, except hike and bike a lot. Unfortunately, these past weeks of rain have not been helpful in keeping up my fitness. This weekend, I hope to get in a few more rides and hikes, and start making piles of all the stuff I need to take with me. I'm limited to 35 lbs and one waterproof duffel bag that can be strapped to a horse for transport while I hike. Shouldn't be a problem, but it'll be good to get the first piles made.
Until then, I'll enjoy the little bit of sun we're supposed to have before it starts raining again this weekend, and I won't even consider what the weather will be like when I get back. At least I should be prepared for the drive home - I have to take a down coat with me in case it's cold at 15,250 feet, the highest point we'll reach on our little trek through the Andes.
I may die.