Theme: I am in shape. Round is a shape.

Today is suppsed to be the hardest day…people cry on this day. I figure I am probably going to be one of those people. Five hours, 12 kilometers, straight uphill, and then two hours straight downhill, crossing something called ¨¨Dead Woman´s Pass.¨¨ Because just hiking isn´t scary enough, they had to throw those names in for effect. All I can think is Thank GOD for my walking stick.

The scenery is awesome, going from the floor of a valley up and up and up and up mountains, wondering why the Inkans were just gluttons for punishment that they had to create this ridiculous path, with steps ranging from six to eighteen inches high, its nice to be able to turn around and watch your progress. Also, constant stopping for scenery admiring provides great 1 to 5 to ten minute excuse for a rest stop.

The sky seems bluer, we have amazing weather, nice and warm during the day, which is great since its rainy season, and there are cute llamas and alpacas grazing in fields, hummingbirds zip around you and all sorts of weird looking plants. We stop every hour and a half or so at a snack shack slash house of some crazy Peruvian who has decided to live on the trail, paying five dollars for a Gatorade or four pack of Oreos. My backpack is still so heavy, even though I´ve thrown out more tshirts, and I have a nasty stitch in my side and a nasty cold in my chest, but this is a marathon, not a sprint and there are plenty of good excuses to stop, look around, and try to remember you wanted to do this and paid a months rent to do this. I make friends with some other stoppers on the path and as we inch by each other, we breathe out encouraging nonsense words like ¨do this for America¨ and ¨¨i think we´re almost halfway of halfway there!¨¨ The porters continue to zip by, their calf muscles the size of my head.

Anita and Biana, two of the Crazians (crazy plus Asian equals Crazian) and I start walking together, and try to make a game of the walking, ie “okay lets walk until that one funky bush sticking out of the path…” and then I say “how about the one fifteen feet before it?” they reply “no no you can do it” and somehow we make it, stopping every one hundred steps or so. Anna, one of the crazians, has a nasty case of food poisoning or altitude sickness or something, and keeps stopping to throw up, poor thing. The distant mirage that is our goal, Dead Woman’s Pass, a mountain top at some 14,000 feet that looks like it has ants crawling on it that are actually people who passed us hours ago and are waiting for our arrival, starts getting closer and closer to us…finally we arrive!! Everyone claps. I collapse on the ground, backpack and all, a wheezing mess of gratitude that I have survived.

We cheer everyone else up the deadly mountain, I indulge what is now the most delicious Twix bar in all of history, and then we begin the almost more painful downhill descent into camp! I start talking to this rather handsome Kiwi named Connor, we walk and flirt together for a half hour or so, until he asks me what I plan on doing post-trip. I reply with a few vague notions I’ve gathered re saving the world, more travel, post graduate studies etc., silencing all the visions I have of us marrying and having several gorgeous and adventurous children together and traveling the world, climbing mountains and living in a yurt and then ask him what he thinks he might do. He answers “Well I just graduated high school and plan on entering University when I return home…” making him about 18 years old to my 24.5. I immediately stop to take several hundred pictures, let some friends catch up, and never speak to him again. Dreadful waste of hotness and maturity on a New Zealand minor!