Then it was my turn to cheer on the others who were behind as they each caught up with us so we could have a group photo taken at the top.
After all our celebrations, it was time to make our way down – a 600 metre drop down very steep, rough steps and this was where I struggled big time! I actually found it harder going down than going up!! It also began to rain, which made the rocks slippery, so we needed to watch our step. Now it was my turn to lag behind at the back, but I didn’t care! I had made it up to the top of the pass without disgracing myself and so I took my time going down and lagged behind with one of the other girls and the rear-guard guide, the lovely Javier.
It was really nice walking with Javier as he told us more about the birds and plants that we were seeing and reassured us that other groups he’d taken were much, much slower. At first, I thought he was just being nice but he told us that one group had not got back to camp until well after dark at around 7pm whereas we made it by 5pm.
Once again, we were clapped into camp, Paqaymayo Alto at 3,600 m, given juice and a bowl of hot water to wash and freshen up before dinner. Dinner was a bit of a sorry affair – some of the group didn’t make it at all and others left early because of sheer exhaustion or the effects of the altitude.
I was so happy that I had survived what’s known as the toughest day of the trek and we had now reached the point where it would be harder to go back than it would to keep going forwards. I was going to do this – I was going all the way!
We went to bed and this time, it was cold – very cold. It was necessary to wear a lot of clothes to keep warm and once again, even though I decided to ditch my own air mattress in favour of the one provided, I still couldn’t get comfortable and lay awake literally all night long, until at 5am I could hear the morning calls of the porters: “Coca Tea”!