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The first time i beat ten boats in the nationals!

Monday, 22 July 2013

On our way home

I want to take the opportunity the thank everyone who donated to our everyday hero account, raising money for Diabetes Research Australia.
It was important to us to drum up some support, and we really appreciate everyone who pitched in. Particularly because the cause is close to us, with Debra being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (she had her 4yr anniversary 3 days ago).
Debra told us that she doesn't really talk about her diabetes, and some of her friends and acquaintances still don't know. She said there was a stigma, or assumption, that someone her age has "brought it on herself". That is, people assume that she has type 2 diabetes, caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
So, again I want to thank everyone who donated, for not judging her, for supporting the four of us, and for making the effort to do your bit too.
We are in Lima, awaiting a flight to Santiago. We arrive home Tuesday evening, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we will sleep for a week!!
It has been an intense experience, one that we will remember forever. I am sure we will not regret our new hat-scarves....

Friday, 19 July 2013

Other Adventures

We spent yesterday shopping and getting a celebratory massage, before getting on a train (and then bus) to Cusco. We returned to the same hotel, where they had laundered our clothes, put our bags in our rooms, and ordered pizza for us! FYI the hotel is Casa Adina, and they are all through South America, and we understand why!
The beds are massive, and we were grateful for the shower, clean clothes, and massive bed for the night.
No rest for the wicked, however! We had our wake up call scheduled for 5:45am, and have spend the rest of today on the bus to Puno. It is an 8hr drive, which we have taken 10hrs to do. We have stopped a number of times to view Inca archaeological sites. We also made it to our highest altitude, at over 4300m. None of us are on the medication anymore, so we must have acclimatised!
We just passed through a town called Juliaca, which is unlike anything we have seen so far. The guide says over 60% of Juliaca's population is from elsewhere, and involved in illegal activity (such as smuggling). We didn't stop. It was quite depressing, dirt roads, piles of garbage, dead dogs on the side of the road, and house s made of mud-brick that were slumped and eroded.
We have an hour more to travel, before we reach Puno. Although a tourist destination, it is a more dangerous population than elsewhere in Peru. We will have to be vigilant with our pockets and our hotel rooms.
Debra has bounced back well, no longer horizontal! The training certainly paid off in our speedy recovery.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Day 3 - The Longest Day

After writing last night i packed myself up and headed back down the trail we came from, hoping to help Deb with her pack on the last part of the hike. I "coo-ee"d and heard a reply, but after about a km i still hadnt reached them, and i was pretty tired. So i had a rest, and asked a porter who was coming past. He said they were 2min away so i set out up the stairs again. I found them, but that same porter i passed had already taken the pack! So i just wandered back with them. They made it before dark.
Today was a 16km hike, over another 4000m pass. The difference was that we started higher, so instead of climbing for 5k we only did 2k. I think it also helped that we didn't realise that it was so high, until Lobo told us at the top.
Then we had a long downhill, with uneven stairs, which was really tough on our toes and knees.
Our journey was broken up by archaeological sites peppering the road. I think I counted 5. One was a refuge and store house, and another one was a temple where they mummified the royal class (in the foetal position) then inserted them back into "mother" earth (put them in a cave).
We then followed the ridge, winding in and out of valleys, through more spectacular terrain. We saw some wild alpacas, which was pretty cool.
From there we had a loooooong downhill of about 1.5hrs. About 30min from then end (after 9hrs hiking), we had the choice of 30min to camp, or 45min past some Inca farming terraces. We chose the latter, and I am glad we did, because from a distance you couldn't appreciate how imposing and enormous they were. There was still a working irrigation system, and a hut that was in tact apart from missing its thatched roof.
Tomorrow, we get to do it in the dark... 2.5hrs in order to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu.

Day 2 - Challenge Day

Day two is often tooted as the toughest day of the hike. It is only 11km, so I had difficulty imagining that it would take that long, no matter how hard it was.
Well, it did, and it was. As I type, Deb and Sandra have still not made it to camp (our guide is with them). Before lunch, we climbed 1000 metres, on ancient, 800yr old steps. Did I mention it was raining? Well, it was. We were high to begin with, about 3000m. So breathing and climbing that quickly was difficult.
Where we stopped for lunch was icy cold, surrounded by snow, and encased in cloud. Needless to say lunch was hot and good.
We still had further to climb before we reached "Dead Woman's Pass" (actual name). It was slow, many of our little group were I'll, seeing spots, or had headaches. I could just feel the pressure of my chest, trying to suck enough air in. Jenny and I set a steady pace, and after an hour or so we were at the top. It was spectacular.
We stayed long enough for a muesli bar, and a couple of "coo-ee" s, and watched the rest of the group for a little while. However Lopo had told us not to wait because of the cold, and we discovered he was right. We layered up and headed down the other side to camp.
Going downhill was a relief for a couple of minutes, and then it was also slow going and tough on our legs! The trail is in excellent condition, but slippery, steep, and very uneven. It took us almost 2hrs to complete the final few kilometres.
On a brighter note, that's the toughest day done with!
Hopefully the girls make it in before dark.

Day 1 - Training Day

Big day today!! We rose at 4:45am for our last shower and breakfast. We were picked up at 6am then drove 2hrs to kilometre 82, the starting point for the Inca Trail. There was a lot of waiting and checking and double checking, including a checkpoint for the government (passes into Machu Picchu are non-transferable so they make sure your permit matches your passport).

Finally, around 10am, we were on our way. Today's course was reasonably short (only 11km) and slow. We stopped ALOT! Our guide, Lopu, called it our "training" day. Basically he goes slow to check how we cope with the altitude [good!] and our fitness [also good!].

The course was gently undulating, with some short and steep sections. There were some breathtaking views. At one point, a lady on a donkey appeared to offer Deb a lift! She declined, but I wish she didn't, would have been a hilarious photo!!

We have putted into camp at 4pm. Our tents are set up, hot water has been brought around for bathing, and a hot drink is in our hands. I am looking at snow-capped mountains, and a couple of donkeys grooming each other.

I would say day one has been successful!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Day 4 - Trekking in the dark

Today we were woken at 3.30am, with no tea (usually we were woken with a hot coca tea). The porters were in a hurry!
We were rushed through breakfast, with busy porters bringing the tents down around us, and once packed, they ran down the hill to catch the train home. We began our trek at 430am, only to spend 40min in the que to enter Machu Picchu precinct.
From there we were also in a hurry! In order to get to the Sun Gate to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu, we had to set a brisk pace.
About halfway, poor Debra was exhausted, so Sandra and I left her with water and food then ran the rest of the way (I am pretty sure we have acclimatised!). We caught our group at the top of a steep staircase, but couldn't call out because we were puffing so hard!
We had enough time to pop our stuff down, and realise we had time. So I got up and went to get Deb. The guide didn't want me to go back in case I missed the sunrise, and just as I was insisting she came around the corner.
Making it in time was a bit overwhelming, but very rewarding.
Debbie has given everything to complete this trek; she is utterly spent, emotionally, physically, mentally.
We have $380 to make our target and 3 days to make it in! Please help us raise money for diabetes research Australia: Team IntoYou

Saturday, 13 July 2013


I read somewhere that undulating altitudes throughout the day can help you acclimatise to the altitude, so that is what today's trip was about.

We started from our base at Cusco, 3300 metres and at our highest point reached 3800. From there we headed to various towns and places, the lowest point 2400m.

Mostly in a bus... But that doesn't matter right?

We got to feed and pet Alpacas, visited some markets, and finished the day at an Inca city that was still being used 800 years after being built.

It was called Ollantaytambo, and unlike Macchu Picchu, it was not abandoned when the Spanish conquered the city. Also unlike Cusco, the Spanish didn't feel the need to build on top of all the important Inca constructions, thus destroying almost everything.

In Ollantaytambo, the people live in the same stone houses, built in the 1400's. They use water from the same stone aqueducts that deliver water to every residence. The bus even drive up the a street barely wide enough for it, on the original stone roads. It was incredible.

Tomorrow we are finally embarking on our 4-day hike. We have a 5am start. We will emerge at the other end dusty, exhausted, and victorious!

Thus "acclimatised" we are certain of success.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Ola Amigos!

On Thursday, Sandra, Deb, and I almost got on the wrong flight. The boarding gate was changed several times, and somehow we made it through with our boarding passes to the aeroplane door, before they realised we weren't meant to be there!

Thankfully we were sent to the correct flight in time.

The plane appeared to be flying into Cusco very low to the ground, simply because the Andes are so high! I got my first window-seat, and took plenty of photos that I can bore you with later.

Cusco is at 3300m, but we are all good in terms of altitude sickness (good training maybe?!). We got a bit excited after settling into our hotel, and decided to explore the town. There are some very steep streets in Cusco, and it wasn't long before we were hamming it up for the cameras. The feeling of asphyxiation hits you really suddenly - one minute your breathing, the next you need to sit down. We made it high enough that we got some great pics then wandered back down.

For dinner, Deb and Sandra tried Alpaca. It has a really gentle, smokey flavour. They seemed to enjoy it ;-)

Today we had the morning to ourselves. We met at breaky, and quietly pilfered morning tea (Jenny is a bad influence). Charged up, we embarked on a short walk to some original Inca walls, still on use in town.

On our return we stumbled on a parade, celebrating 10yrs of government run preschools. Every preschool in the district marched (over 40 of them.... That's when we left), dressed head to toe in colourful traditional dress. It was quite spectacular.

After that we found the local food market, and saw some pretty astonishing sights; whole pigs, testicles, huge corridors of fruit, guinea pigs, everything edible (according to someone).

At 1pm we were picked up by our tour guide, and joined some Americans on a city tour. We got to 3700m at one archaeological site, and everyone coped just fine (in fact, the 10-15min hike took us only about 5).

I appear to have given an incomplete link to our donation page, this one should be correct:


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Debra's Story: why Diabetes Australia is our chosen charity

At an annual checkup with her GP about 4years ago, Debra was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that affected her thyroid. It was put down to the hormonal changes that she went through during menopause, and was not unexpected since she has a family history of Thyroid problems.

Not long after she started feeling very unwell, and was drinking a lot of water. Very rapidly her vision disintegrated, and she was unable to drive. Debra's daughter drove her to the doctor for various tests, which took over a week.

Eventually she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and admitted to hospital. She was there for 4 days, so depleted and unbalanced hormonally that she was close to a heart attack.

Debra was educated briefly in the hospital, and then referred to a clinic. In the clinic she equipped herself with the latest technology, which although it doesn't make her diabetes any better, it does prevent her doing more damage from high or low blood pressure.

July 18 is Debra's 4 year anniversary for being diagnosed with diabetes. She'll be spending it with us on our final day of the Inca Trail hike. She said she's doing this hike because in 10yrs she may not be able to.

You can still support us at www.give.everyday - search team IntoYou

We are acclimatising in sunny Cusco, preparing for the trail.

Weary But Having Fun!

We are currently in Lima, in their new "safe" tourist district. Everyone's house is gated, electric wired, and many have private security guards too. It is worth it, for the ability to walk around safely at night.

We haven't seen much, and are returning to the airport now.

Jenny has now finally joined us. And out little foursome is complete.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Back where we began...

On February 1st 2013, at 3pm, the four of us met at the IntoYou studio for our first training walk for Peru. The clouds were ominous, and we went regardless. Our packs had 4kg in them, which we all felt was heavy, and our stat's were: 5.11 km, in 01:12:49, pace 14:14 min/km.

Today, over 6mths later, we met again, in our various states of disrepair, and did the same walk in 52:55, pace 11:48 min/km. We carried the same weight, and we walked comfortably.

The day could not have been further from our first walk! With glorious blue sky's, a fresh, pleasant breeze,  and a level of fitness that meant the walk was brisk but comfortable.

Our training wraps up completely from now. We have nothing to do but rest up, pack, and get our asses on that plane!

Please support us by donating:

Our photos this week are of our first and last walks, plus our last altitude training session last night.

South America here we come!

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Last Friday of our walking group and we have:
participant 1 no longer coming because of work and confidence issues.
participant 2 flat on her back with a back spasm.
participant 3 limping with a niggly arthritis in her hip.
participant 4 feeling sorry for herself nursing a cold.

It'll be all right, right?!

It has been a tough final couple of weeks, despite the fact that we haven't had to train. There is a lot to do before we go, and a lot of apprehension about how we will cope once we are there. What i love about the company i am travelling with is that not one of them has said it out loud. Saying it out loud would make it real, and by literally "taking it in their stride" i am confident of our success next week.

Today we spend a couple of hours in an Altitude training facility. We have made it as high as 4100 metres (not without some discomfort). The training is fairly easy, it is mostly about spending time in the environment.

Tomorrow we meet at the gym to do the same walk as we did on or first session. Then it was pouring with rain, and we were unfit. Tomorrow will be a different story, and i am hoping it instills some confidence in everyone (myself included).

I will be keeping a diary when we are over there, and will upload photos periodically if we get a chance. Wednesday is the big day!!!