An interview with Christine and the Inca Trail

What do you do to keep fit?

I walk most days, between 45 minutes and an hour and then do a 8-10 miler one day during the week when it tends to be quieter. We have walked locally during lockdown obviously. There is a beautiful walk via Etherow Park, Ernocroft Woods, Glossop Road then to Mill Brow, Marple Bridge and back via Peak Forest Canal home.

Since lockdown has eased we’ve been able to walk in Derbyshire, walk up Mam Tor etc. I lived in Bakewell for many years so I know the Peak District well. We also like to walk in North Wales and have walked up and around the Orme with our Nordic poles. Walking is something we’ve sought to include on holidays and really enjoyed walking part of the South West Coast Path and then up North from Whitby to Robins Hood Bay.

How different is it walking with the Nordic poles?

We went for training on how to use these; in Marple Bridge. They make you stand straighter and use your arms more and automatically walk faster. It’s a really good workout.

Have you any other fitness activities?

Yes I was swimming regularly before lockdown. I’m not fast but would swim 40 lengths in a session. I’ve also just started doing Zumba and yoga on Youtube.

Have you ever had any injuries that have held you back from your fitness goals?

Yes I have Mortons Neuroma in both feet. I had orthotics for a while which helped. Now I know I can walk roughly 8 miles before the pain starts so I have to keep my walks to this length.

What is the biggest walk you have done?

Well I climbed Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scarfell Pike in one summer. We completely ran out of water on Ben Nevis, despite carrying 3 litres each, but we were lucky to get great views up there that day. I’m told its mostly too cloudy to see.

The biggest and most important walk I did though was the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It had been a life long dream to do it. Machu Picchu is located in the Andes mountain range in Peru. The route is a trek through the mountains with three major passes that ascend to 13,775 feet, 12,955 feet and 11,970 feet. After each pass there is a steepish descent with a beautiful trek through the mountains and cloud forest before the next ascent starts.

The total route is only around 25miles so it can be done slowly whilst taking in the amazing scenery all around. Along the way there are several Inca ruin sites which were amazing to see as the only access is on foot so it was very quiet, in contrast to Machu Picchu which is a busy tourist site.

I’d mentioned to someone that it was a dream and he just said book it and then you’ll have to get ready for it, so I did! I started walking a lot more, going to the gym and doing leg stamina exercises. When I came to do the Inca Trail you have to acclimatise a little first. We spent a few days in the Amazon to get used to the climate and then flew to Cusco for our first taste of altitude – an interesting experience where you seem to lose control of your legs. Following a few days of acclimatisation in Cusco we travelled to Km88 at Qoriwayrachina Bridge, which is the start of the trail and the adventure.

You then only walk maybe 5 miles a day due to the altitude. I wore a heart rate monitor to ensure I monitored my pace and level of exertion. We saw people far fitter failing as they went too fast and then couldn’t cope with the altitude.

I was blown away by the place, everywhere you see beautiful Incan ruins along the way and the views of the mountains are just breathtaking. It’s steep going up especially Dead Woman’s Pass where the path is just 2 metres wide with a sharp drop next to you. We camped every night with amazing porters carrying all our stuff, tents, food, cooking stoves etc. One campsite was particularly memorable as we felt as though we were on top of the world camped right on top of an escarpment overlooking the Andes. We got up at 5am to walk up a hill to see the sunrise – the porters brought a kettle and gave us tea.

Campsite overlooking the Andes

I made some great friends on this trip and also met my now husband Gary 😁.

Reaching the Sun Gate and the first sight of Machu Picchu was very emotional and I confess to having a little cry.

Christine on her way up to Machu Picchu
Clockwise from top left, Christine at Whistler in Canada, Christine with Gary cycling in Vietnam, in Spain, Northumberland and at Mam Tor.

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