Trekking The Bolivian Inca Trail: Day 3

Trek 3-0

Day three was all about walking along the floor of the cloud covered jungle.

“The trek continues down the Rio Coscapa valley where forests are more developed. The vegetation will be showing more vegetation with lovely larger canopies adorned by bromeliads, mosses and orchids. Bird life is more abundant. After another 6-7 hour walk you will finally reach Chairu at 4,592 ft. (1,400 m). Transfer by car to Coroico. Trip back to La Paz.”

Trek 3-1This photo was taken hours after our 5:00 a.m. wake-up call. We departed from camp in the rain and in pitch blackness, and walked for more than an hour along a narrow path right on the edge of a very precipitous fall–definitely not a place for a slip up!

Trek 3-2A slightly-blurry photo of me (it was still quite dark!) standing in front of one of the many waterfalls that we would pass on the third day of the trek.

Trek 3-3The final suspension bridge of our three-day mountain to jungle trek. Over the course of the three days we descended more than 4,000 meters.

Trek 3-4The sun was starting to come out, but way down here below all the clouds it was hard to tell the time of day.

Trek 3-5The final uphill section of the entire journey!

Trek 3-6Walking in the clouds…

Trek 3-7Ferns, ferns, ferns…

Trek 3-8…and even more ferns!

Trek 3-9The hiking trail quickly disappears into the heavy vegetation. I couldn’t even count the times my head/face got slapped with vines or (wet!) tree branches.

Trek 3-10Nearing mid-day, and parts of the trail continued to get even darker!!!

Trek 3-11I was told that there is normally quite the view behind these plants.

Trek 3-12Humid but cool.

Trek 3-13Finally, towards the end of our trek, the clouds started to dissipate.

Trek 3-14All of the surrounding hills were once again visible…

Trek 3-15…as well as our final destination: a little sleepy jungle town on the crest of a hill. (Center of photo.)

Trek 3-16Celebrating victory as I crossed the “finish line!”

This trek was not only a celebration of my recent return to good health, it was also a celebration of the hope that resides in each and every person who lives with inflammatory arthritis, and of the will to keep moving.

ShowUsYourHands_badge_125x125Please join me in these celebrations by making a donation to Show Us Your Hands! a nonprofit charity organization that serves to unite and inspire people who live with inflammatory arthritis. 100% of all funds donated will go directly towards community programs, including the Inflammatory Arthritis Community Collage, the Our Hands Can! Photo Book, and community posters.

For more information, please visit trekforhope.causevox.com.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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Trekking The Bolivian Inca Trail: Day 2

Trek 2-0
Day two was all about endless tree and plant covered hills!

“Pass through one of the few untouched cloud forest left in Bolivia, protected by the Cotapata National Park. The trail descends through narrow valleys showing more trees, orchids, bromeliads and larger cloud forest trees. Colorful birds and butterflies could be seen. This habitat is home of the Spectacled Bear, rarely seen by visitors. Lunch on the way. After approximately another seven-hour descent, you will reach the San Francisco Camp at 8,528 ft. (2,600 m).”
Trek 2-17:00 a.m. start to the second day of trekking. My shoulders were doing well, but my hips, knees, and calf muscles were still in absolute agony from the steep mountain descent of the previous day.

Trek 2-2My sister-in-law (who became a grandmother the day before we took off on our journey!) crosses one of the many rustic bridges that have been built across innumerable streams.

Trek 2-3The sun starts to peek out over the hills. Due to the lower elevation and tropical vegetation, day two was on average much warmer than day one.

Trek 2-4We walked along wet, muddy stones for hours on end. When the path started sloping down, things got even more complicated. Slowly buy surely, I eventually made my way though this difficult section of the trek.

Trek 2-5It was absolutely fascinating to see all of the green plants along the trail!

Trek 2-6It was right around here where I started to feel like Indiana Jones. (Luckily, there was no giant boulder rolling down the path.)

Trek 2-7Taking a break in front of a small waterfall along the river, way down in the valley.

Trek 2-8I have never seen so many ferns in my life…there seemed to be millions of them, of all shapes and sizes.

Trek 2-9Midway through day two, we stopped at this thatch covered rest area for lunch. We we now officially at the (approximate) midpoint of the entire three-day trek!

Trek 2-10Me crossing one of the numerous suspension cable bridges. By this point I had started to learn the pattern: after coming down a high hillside in order to cross the river on a bridge, we now had to climb back up another high hillside to continue on our journey.

Trek 2-11For hours on end, we had a panoramic view of tree-covered hills for as far as the eye could see. It was quite a sight!

Trek 2-12At a certain point I realized that many of the “bushes” right to the left of the path were actually the tops of trees from way below!!! This was definitely one place where I didn’t want to fall or take a wrong step.

Trek 2-13Entrance to an abandoned mine.

Trek 2-14Yet again, we had to come down another hill, walk across a suspension bridge, and climb back up another hill.

Trek 2-15Success! Our day two campsite, with our tent nestled under a straw roof. After dinner it was straight to bed–we had a 5:00 a.m. wake up call the next morning, and would be trekking down into the floor of the jungle. (We also had no clue that a rain storm would roll in during the middle of the night!)

This trek was not only a celebration of my recent return to good health, it was also a celebration of the hope that resides in each and every person who lives with inflammatory arthritis, and of the will to keep moving.

ShowUsYourHands_badge_125x125Please join me in these celebrations by making a donation to Show Us Your Hands! a nonprofit charity organization that serves to unite and inspire people who live with inflammatory arthritis. 100% of all funds donated will go directly towards community programs, including the Inflammatory Arthritis Community Collage, the Our Hands Can! Photo Book, and community posters.

For more information, please visit trekforhope.causevox.com.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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Trekking The Bolivian Inca Trail: Day 1

Trek 1-0Day one was all about the Andes Mountains and the extremely high altitude!

Departure from La Paz until La Cumbre at 15,645 ft (4,770 m). Starting from this location, the trek will continue until the Apacheta Pass at 16,072 ft (4,900 m). After this pass, there will be a spectacular descent for about seven hours from the high Puna grasslands to the cloud forest or yungas, passing the Chukura small village at 12,300 ft (3,750 m) and later arriving to the Challapampa Camp at 9,184 ft (2,800 m). Lunch on the way. Dinner and overnight at Challapampa Camping.

Trek 1-1Drivers, mountain bikers, and hikers make offerings to the mountain gods before setting off on their adventures!

Trek 1-2My sister-in-law and I standing in front of the mountains. As if the extremely high altitude and the amazing views weren’t enough to make our hearts race, we also had to carry our own sleeping bag, clothing, water, snacks, and personal items. Helping us on this journey was a cook who carried the food and cooking supplies, and a guide who carried the tent and the sleeping mats.

Trek 1-3The surrounding mountain peaks are covered with snow year round. I particularly liked the geometric indentations in this mountain top.

Trek 1-4A llama walks along the sun-drenched ground in front of Inca ruins.

Trek 1-5“A Tambo was an Incan structure built for administrative and military purposes. Found along Incan roads, tambos typically carried supplies, served as lodging for itinerant state personnel, and were depositories of quipu-based accounting records. Different types of tambos existed; those that served to lodge the traveling Inca and his entourage (typically wives and state officials), and those that served as relay stations for the chasquis, who were state messengers who ran along state roads.”

Trek 1-6Taking my first break of the day at the Incan rest stop.

Trek 1-7A sheep sporting brightly colored yarn ear tags.

Trek 1-8After hiking for hours through a large mountain valley, I was amazed that we were still higher than the clouds that surrounded a neighboring mountain peak…and that our final destination point was way down in another valley!

Trek 1-9While not always as smooth as shown here, the path on the first day was quite wide. (I almost felt like I was walking the Yellow Brick Road.) By the second day, the only way forward was to walk in a single file.

Trek 1-10Midway through the first day. While I was smiling, my shoulders were already crying from all of the weight they were carrying! (It was right around here where I started ranking things from most important to least important, in case I needed to start lightening my load.)

Trek 1-11Walking *down* into the clouds. What a sensation.

Trek 1-12An indigenous family using a herd of llamas to carry firewood to their amazingly remote village.

Trek 1-13Late afternoon, starting to walk into the clouds. The path continues to get much more narrow and rugged.

Trek 1-14Early evening fog starts to roll in. The path continues to get steeper and steeper, putting more pressure on our already-overworked knees!

Trek 1-15It quickly became increasingly difficult to see, as the sky continued to darken and as the clouds and fog continued to thicken. Still, we walked for more than an hour and a half after this photo was taken. The day’s final adventure before reaching our campsite: crossing a suspension cable bridge (with missing planks and all!) over a roaring river, in almost complete darkness!!!

This trek was not only a celebration of my recent return to good health, it was also a celebration of the hope that resides in each and every person who lives with inflammatory arthritis, and of the will to keep moving.

ShowUsYourHands_badge_125x125Please join me in these celebrations by making a donation to Show Us Your Hands! a nonprofit charity organization that serves to unite and inspire people who live with inflammatory arthritis. 100% of all funds donated will go directly towards community programs, including the Inflammatory Arthritis Community Collage, the Our Hands Can! Photo Book, and community posters.

For more information, please visit trekforhope.causevox.com.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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Show Us Your Hands! Works With Inflammatory Arthritis And Starts Fundraisers For Growth

ShowUsYourHands_badge_125x125(August 13, 2013) – Show Us Your Hands! is pleased to provide an update of the organization’s activities in 2013. Launched less than two years ago as a community collage project, our grassroots organization continues to grow thanks to the continued support from members of the inflammatory arthritis community.

We are happy to share that we have obtained official US nonprofit charity status. State of Illinois charity registration is in progress.

Show Us Your Hands! has also created an Advisory Council to provide ideas and feedback for awareness projects. The Advisory Council is composed of an international group of motivated and talented individuals: Andrea Sarullo (USA), Ferhaan Kajee (The Netherlands), Kimberly Cooper (USA), Nicole Dalton (USA) and Shelley Cook (USA).

All Show Us Your Hands! Directors and Advisory Council members live with inflammatory arthritis. This has presented our organization with the unique opportunity of creating organizational structures that support and accommodate the realities of life with inflammatory arthritis. To enable full participation without burnout, we have built a solid team with a “buddy system” as backup for all tasks, and include balancing work and inflammatory arthritis in all projects and deadlines.

The primary Show Us Your Hands! project for 2013 is to offer Community Collage posters and the Our Hands Can! photo book at more affordable prices. The proceeds from several fundraisers planned for the next few months will provide the funding necessary to lower the cost of the posters and photo books.

Autoimmune diseases occur when a body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. In the case of inflammatory arthritis, a person’s joints are frequently attacked, resulting in chronic pain and debilitating inflammation. The most common inflammatory arthritis diseases are Ankylosing Spondylitis, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Psoriatic Arthritis, Reactive Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Still’s Disease and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Show Us Your Hands! is an international awareness movement which serves to unite and inspire the inflammatory arthritis community. For more information, please visit www.showusyourhands.org. Show Us Your Hands! can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

SUYH

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy’s Trek For Hope

TrekforHopeDuring the middle of August 2013, I will embark on a rural three-day, 60 km mountain-to-jungle trek in Bolivia, South America, with a backpack, sleeping bag, and tent in tow!

“The El Choro Inca Trail dates back to pre-Inca times, but was later integrated into the famous and expansive network of roads known today as the Inca Trail. As trekkers descend from the frosty Andean highlands (15,945 feet above sea level) down into the tropical valley, they appreciate not only stunning landscapes but also witness ancient remnants of Inca engineering.”

This trek is not only a celebration of my recent return to good health, it is also a celebration of the hope that resides in each and every person who lives with inflammatory arthritis, and of the will to keep moving.

ShowUsYourHands_badge_125x125Please join me in these celebrations by making a donation to Show Us Your Hands! a nonprofit charity organization that serves to unite and inspire people who live with inflammatory arthritis. 100% of all funds donated will go directly towards community programs, including the Inflammatory Arthritis Community Collage, the Our Hands Can! Photo Book, and community posters.

For more information, please visit http://trekforhope.causevox.com/.

7 Comments