I didn’t sleep last night. The thick soft foam mattress dipped in the middle touching the hard boards below creating a bowl in which sweat is absorbed into the mattress. I think about all the other tourists sweating into their mattresses, combined with the feeling of never quite being dry made for a sleepless uncomfortable night.
Breakfast was salty scrambled eggs, sweet white toast with pineapple and papaya. We all ate around a big picnic table and left camp by 6am. The mornings walk began through more agricultural land, mostly cattle farming. The path remained wide enough to be a jeep track however the mud got so bad in parts, we were scrambling up the side of banks, holding onto barbed wire fences to prevent slipping into puddles of what could be knee deep mud. At parts the path had been concreted in, however these were now raised islands, showing the height of the old road with chaotic slushy messes on either side. We passed many small streams and cute cascading waterfalls amongst lush jungle foliage and interesting parasitic plants.
We ascended up and over a ridge eating watermelon on the way, provided by our guides. The trail was bustling with what seemed like at least 50 other tourists. Mostly Europeans, we counted many Germans, Dutch and Belgian. After our decent into a valley we stopped at an encampment called Alojamiento Wiwa for lunch. We were earlier than anticipated (there are many British fitness freaks in our group, including a vegan investment banker who is into ‘Tough Mudder’, lol great) so our guides took us to a waterfall for a swim. It was quiet amazing, falling about 20m down a cliff and crashing dramatically on a rock right next to a deep swimming. The spray and wind generated by the falls is astounding has created a hyper-humid micro-climate, even chilly in temperature.
We swim for 20 minutes and head back to the camp for lunch, vegetable soup and rice. I look at my phone and realise it’s only 9:30am and I am starving. The PCT has conditioned me to eat little and often, cramming in as many calories as possible. The local food on this trip is large in portion size but incredibly low in calories, causing a bloated and stodgy feeling whilst walking. I think about the documentary/book called Guns Germs and Steel and how jungle environments make for difficult food cultivation in terms of high calorie and high protein ingredients.
After lunch we walk up a spectacular river valley. In the middle of our group, Quiz and I manage to get a few kilometres of solitary walking in. We cross a bridge over the blue grey torrent and begin a steep long climb up a mountain ridge. The afternoon rain begins at 12:30pm today, earlier than yesterday. We get in a hiker traffic jam of individual dodging slippery mud and puffing their ways up the hill. No sleep and crowdedness make for gruelling times for me, and I am beginning to dislike my time out here. It never gets truely cold out here but the constant wet feeling is grinding my gears. Also on a side note quite a few of the ‘ultra-fit’ meaning skinny hikers make condescending comments of surprise at how fast Quiz and I are considering our builds. After the PCT I don’t have a competitive bone in my body for hiking and truely feel at ease with my capabilities and body and feel totally confused by these comments.
The last 3 kilometres are gentle and scenic, through mountain meadows covered in mist and light rain. As the valley narrows we cross a river than goes above my waist! Pedro our local guide gives me a helping hand and I am grateful for it. We get into Alojamiento El Paraiso by 3:30pm and hustle for a shower. I am a hermit nerd so I hung out in my mosquito net and read the Philip K Dick book Quiz bought me and passed out. Only 1km to Lost City!