<))) 2009 South America, Part 4, Cuzco and vicinity
South America, Part 3

South America, Part 5

June 17 Cuzco and vicinity tour.

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D226-070 09-06-17 - Museum near cathedral?

D226-073 09-06-17 - Our first Inca stonework.

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D226-084 09-06-17 - Portal.

d230-038 09-06-17 - Carole D: Market, museum courtyard.

D226-086 09-06-17 - Ave. del Sol (Inti Raymi site).
Looking out the museum back door.

June 17 Q'engo.

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D226-092 09-06-17 - Altar.

D226-095 09-06-17 - Animal statue.

June 17 Pukapukara.

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D226-098 09-06-17 - School trip.

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D226-110 09-06-17 - Like a Mycenaean bronze age fort.

June 17 Tambomachay.

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D226-115 09-06-17 - Carrying a load of hay.

D226-118 09-06-17 - Fountain and aquaduct.

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June 17 Cuzco, Saqsayhuaman.
Site in preparation for the Inti Raymi festival, June 24.

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D226-124 09-06-17 - Interpretive lecture.

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D226-134 09-06-17 - School trippers. Inti Raymi in 1 week.

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D226-148 09-06-17 - Cuzco 1 (500,000 pop. 10,000' amsl.)

D226-149 09-06-17 - Cuzco 2. panorama

D226-150 09-06-17 - Cuzco 3.

D226-151 09-06-17 - Cuzco 4.

D226-152 09-06-17 - Cuzco 5.

D226-153 09-06-17 - Cuzco 6, Tim: Got it!

D226-154 09-06-17 - Cuzco Plaza d'Armas.

D226-156 09-06-17 - Our hotel visible
Upper left corner, right of dark tree cluster.

June 18 Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo

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D226-157 09-06-18 - A warlike Inca?

D226-158 09-06-18 - Ollantaytambo town

D226-159 09-06-18 - Close to our jumping off point

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D226-161 09-06-18 - Part of the hiking group.


Inca Trail hike. 09-12-03: this show 49min, automatic version.{incat}{incat1}
Scroll upward for prior events.

D226-165a 09-06-18 - Inca Trail hike.

High Altitude Hiking, Rationale.
* Just because it's there.
* It's good for you?
* May be dangerous and costly.
* Rapture of the heights.
* Unique figure-ground perspective.
Skip the notes, hit the trail

Where are you coming from, Derek?
* Sketching tours. Collecting ambiance.
* Pen/pencil sketching. Greece, West C.
* Note-taking, sketching, same tools.
* These tools suggest sketchy photo FX.
* Digital note/sketchbook/photo album.
* Heroes: Kane, Catlin, Audubon, et al.

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
* From the point of view of an artist?
* Serious hiker AND an artist?
* Little time to set up an easel.
* Field trip approach: data collection.
* Artist POV = ARTISTIC data.
* Artist POV = later STUDIO reworking.

Notes on high-altitude hiking.
You might well ask: why do people go on these trips? They cost a lot of effort, sometimes also money. They offer very little physical comfort. There's often the chance of bad weather with no option to retreat to a comfortable vehicle or hotel. The element of hazard may be significant. Medical assistance is usually far off, sometimes non-existant. So if you have a heart attack on the summit of Kilimanjaro, helicopter rescue will be out of the question due to altitude alone, not to mention lack of cell-phone coverage. Then there's the fitness issue. You can't, or shouldn't, tackle a multi-day trek, without a lot of preparation, which can be time-consuming and boring. You don't have to bicycle laps up the hydro hill every day for a month in order to get ready for a Caribean cruise. And I won't even bother to go into the matter of specialized equipment, such as hiking boots, tents, etc., that may be useless for any other activity.

So WHY then? ... I have to admit, the difficulties do loom larger the older we get. But we learn to cut corners to keep going as long as possible. For instance, kayak trips with no portages. Trekking with the added expense of porters to carry the heavier luggage. Any scheme to experience again those rare magic moments that you just can't get without total immersion in the natural environment. But this isn't to claim that you can't get your quota of magic moments some other way, only that there IS a special rapport with their surroundings that outdoor trippers often experience.

I recall a day on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. This is a 6000ft peak with a long ascents of perhaps 4500ft from the trailheads in the surrounding valleys. Starting at 7am we reached the summit, which was clothed in a freezing cloud, and at about 1pm started down the opposite side. A few hundred feet down the trail the cloud disappeared, the sun came out and the air warmed up. This location overlooked the famous Crawford path, which in the White Mountains of New Hampshire traverses bare ridges of rock for miles and miles above the tree-line. The view is a perfect metaphor for the human condition, and a very attractive metaphor, when the sun is shining. Along this metaphor hundreds of hikers were making their way up and down the trail. That trail being narrow, essentially single track, we had to step round a constant stream of people still toiling their way upward. This was at an altitude of more than 5000ft, no mean eminence in New England. Those still ascending had come a long way up.

We hadn't expected to see so many people, but the really odd thing was that practically all of them greeted us like long-lost friends. "How've you been. Where are you from? Lovely weather. Doesn't this make you glad to be alive?" They weren't smoking dope or tippling from whiskey-filled canteens, these people were ecstatic about the stunning views, the trail that went on to the limit of visibility, the endless ridges of blue mountains in the distance, one behind the other, the beaming sunshine, their ability to put out extraordinary effort and still feel happy and fit while doing so, all the while sensing the comradship of companions on the route, united in a common project. I'm told that similar ecstatic behaviour can be observed at rock concerts and hockey games. Told.

There are also a few essentially perceptual joys to be had while treking at higher altitudes. Vision. You can see long distances. This sounds obvious and simplistic. But in our ordinary experience we seldom see very far, vision is interrupted in every direction by the interior walls of houses, workplaces, vehicles, and outoors by the streetscape. Even in a "natural" environment, surrounding trees and hedges preclude the long view. To be able to see significant details at a very long distance can seem like a spiritual revelation. Westerners complain that they miss it. Easterners don't quite know what they're talking about.

It's not enough to just look at the view. You can drive a car to the summit of Mt Washington. Sure the outlook is impressive that way. But you can't see it as part of your own personal itinerary in life if you only view it vicariously and don't take the opportunity to wander in its vastness.

But there's also something special about experiencing up close the very bulk and mass of rocks, cliffs and peaks, forests, seen as whole communities of trees, clouds that actually brush past on your own level. Ordinarily we see most things in close detail, as items, as figures, against a negligible ground. Way up there, you have moments of seeing the world, not only in terms of a collection of individual details, but as the very background of your existence. Here we can sometimes approach, if our blood sugar levels are calibrated correctly, an almost religious experience. You begin to glimpse the vast body of a mountain as underlying, sustaining, as providential of new and challenging experiences. Almost ... as a deity. You could be immortal, for a few precious hours.


June 18 day 1 The hike begins.{day1}

D226-162 09-06-18 - Piscacucho
We begin at Piscacucho, on the Machu Picchu Railroad. Kilometer 82. Our mini bus, which has driven us this morning from our hotel in Cuzco, drops us near the railroad station. We assemble in a staging area with a wonderful view. The Urubamba River is below. The Inca Trail is on the opposite side.

D226-163 09-06-18 - The porters sort out their packs.
The blue bags contain all our tents, sleeping bags, mats, food, fuel, eating utensils and everything the porters individually might need. We carry our own personal gear, such as cameras, water, extra clothing and documents.

D226-166 09-06-18 - Weighing the loads.
The loads are checked at the weighing station on the right. This ensures that no one is carrying more or less than their fair share. The porter in the red shirt on the far side is actually hefting a propane tank.

D226-165 09-06-18 - The group. Ineke, 3rd from right.
Here's the group ready to set out. Left to right: Tim, Merle, Ian, Franca, Ineke our travel agent, Carole, Derek. Full of excitement and bubbles. Here we're standing beside the Machu Picchu Railroad track, with the river in back.
You can see by that lighter line along the bank that the water level is low. But the flow is still impressive. The Urubamba is a tributary of the Amazon. Here, we're on the Atlantic, not the Pacific watershed.

d230-080 09-06-18 - Carole D: Bridge across the Urubamba
This is a wire-rope suspension bridge that we're about to cross. The hiking group is on the right. The green gate on the left is where we undergo another security check to make sure our papers are in order and all our fees paid. It's not a bridge over troubled waters. The Urubamba seemed very happy that day. At least to a group of hikers champing at the bit to get started.

D226-169 09-06-18 - View from the bridge.
Taken from the middle of the bridge looking down into the Urubamba River. The mountains on the horizon lead us forward into the interior where we'll spend the next four days walking.

D226-171 09-06-18 - Bromeliads will be our companions.
We see some of the plant life that will be common along the trail. The dry brown grass indicates the end of the growing season in these parts. Mid June is midwinter.

D226-172 09-06-18 - Farm terraces along Machu Picchu RR.
Now we're fairly begun. Those terraces opposite might be of Inca origin. But the farmers of today are more inclined to the type of tillage you see in the field beside the river. This well-groomed plot awaits the coming planting season. You can see signs of farm roads and paths on the hillside. Reminds me of how much you can discover back home in a photo that you didn't see at the time you took it.

D226-173 09-06-18 - Mt. Veronica follows us.
The surrounding mountains become our companions. Giant rocks beside the trail gives us the feeling of being planted firmly on the bosom of Mother Earth.

D226-174 09-06-18 - Hemmed-in on each side.
And impressive bosoms they are too, judging from those crags on the other side of the river. We're into some serious mountain country now. Agriculture is confined between high valley walls.

D226-175 09-06-18 - Our guide, Angelo.
Angelo, our guide, introduces himself. Here he's expounding on safety procedures, not getting lost, and the general context of our excursion. We thought him a bit glib at first, but we soon come to like him a great deal. His english is quite fluent.

D226-176 09-06-18 - Residences along the trail.
The trail at this point isn't exactly wilderness. We find several lodges like this soliciting tourists along the way. It's uncertain how you would contact the proprietors to make a reservation, but a place like this would do nicely for a few lazy days of downtime or recuperation.
South America, Part 5

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