Trina Cole’s Trek
Photo by Pauline Richards
Trina Cole, one of our members, trekked to Machu Picchu, Peru raising money for St Margaret’s Hospice. After her husband, John, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016 the Hospice supported John and Trina which helped to keep John at home where he wanted to be. Trina wanted to give something back so the Hospice can carry on their excellent care. The club raised £200 as a result of our fund raising evening on March 16th and Trina was delighted-
Trina reported on the journey:
My trek is now over and it was certainly a challenge! Before we set off on our trek, we spent two interesting days involved in a community project. We were tasked with painting classrooms in an infant school about two hours out of Cusco which is at 3,300 metres. (The school was at 3,600 metres). Once we had finished on the second day, we interacted with the children (aged 3 to 5 years) by singing songs together and giving them presents which we had brought with us – games/toys/paper and pencils etc.
The first couple days of the trek were hard – first climbing up then down. Our first night was spent at 4,400 metres in a beautiful location (having started the day at 3,800 metres). We were under the Salkantay Mountain with the moon shining on the snow and a full sky of stars. So long as one moved slowly and getting enough oxygen the altitude was not a problem – just walking uphill made one breathless.
The following morning we had one kilometre to walk and two hundred metres in height. Once again it was hard going and everyone went at their own pace to reach the pass at 4,600 meters.
Once there, it was an emotional moment for everyone. It was also quite atmospheric as it was misty and one could see several small cairns which other walkers had built. It was a place where the Incas made sacrifices – our guides did not use a human but we had a short ceremony using coca leaves asking the gods to bless our onward journey. We were also encouraged to make our own cairns before we started our journey downhill. This then took the rest of the day apart from stopping for lunch cooked for us by our cooks who produced delicious three course meals every day.
Walking downhill for two four hour stretches was very hard especially on the knees. The terrain varied from wide to narrow paths sometimes due to landslides to rocky outcrops which when wet, were quite slippery. There were also several rivers to cross due to the heavy rainfall before we arrived.
The next two days were easy walking compared with what we had just done. We walked down a wide gorge with the river in full flood and evidence of several landslides due to the heavy rain a few weeks before. The walking day ended at midday when we were taken to a coffee plantation for lunch and a tour round where we picked and eventually drank the coffee. The evening was spent in some hot pools – bliss!
On day five we were bussed up to Machu Picchu. Once through the gate it was a magical and emotional experience. It was huge and was as it had been left 400 hundred years ago. No signs of tourism – just people. Some of us climbed the higher of the two hills and although hard (straight up the side!) with uneven and scary stairs the view from the top was worth every breathless step. We could see the whole of Machu Picchu spread out before us as well as looking down into the surrounding valleys.
It then only took four hours to return to Cusco and the next day, some returned to the UK with the remainder of the group continuing on to the Amazon Basin. We had three nights of heat, rain and midges but well worth the trip. My abiding memory is listening to Howler monkeys at 5.30 in the morning – an amazing sound. I first heard a sound that was like a rumbling in a far off town which was not there as we were in the middle of a forest. The noise then became closer which was the monkeys howling at each other and we had been told that it was the alpha male in the group warning off another male. They moved off and we could then hear the dawn chorus.
I find it hard to believe I have been there and am so pleased I have – it has been a wonderful experience and will live with me forever. I am also very humbled by the support and generosity from everyone.
The club often supports St Margaret’s Hospice in Yeovil, raising money at our Spring and Summer dances, also our annual Easy Christmas card.