The fog closed up tighter around me, covered up the trail in front of me and the views we just had seen of the highest point on the Inca Trail only became a blurry imagination of my memory. Green became grey. 4215 meters of altitude. The rain started to pour down again. I didn’t feel cold, but my knee hurt from two days of hiking. I was exhausted by the hike to the top and had been the last one up. The guides had walked with me, assuring that I had enough oxygen as I stumbled one heavy leg in front of the other, stopping after two or three steps to breathe heavily. The last kilometer had felt more like ten, but the reward of getting to the top where the rest of the group waited for me together with my partner, was implausible. I had made it.
I was walking downwards towards the last camp site, a campsite on nearly 4000 meters of height. When we arrived at the camp, the porters had already set up the tents. My partner and I had a wash in a bowl of icy cold water that one of the porters had put out for us. I shivered of cold. Foggy chill air, freezing water, taking off my clothes to change into new clothes, how come I was here by my own will? I have always hated the cold! But I love hiking. I love conquering new mountain tops. And Machu Picchu had been a dream of mine since I was a child, since I first listened to my parents’ stories from when they had walked the Inca Trail, long before the hike was restricted to only 500 people a day. Long before you needed a guide to do the trek. Long before there were porters that carried your bags and food up, and cooked the most amazing and nutritious meals out of a simple blue tent. Finally, I was fulfilling my childhood dream. And no cold was going to stop me. So I got dressed and walked over to the blue tent to get some hot tea with the others while waiting for yet a spectacular meal.
The last morning we got up at about 4 am. It was still foggy, wet and cold. According to our guides, we walked past spots with spectacular views of Machu Picchu from a distance, but all we saw was a wall of thick, humid fog. I started to get nervous about not seeing Machu Picchu at all. It had to clear up!
As we walked on the foggy trail, chatting vividly as we had woken up after a few hours of hiking, I suddenly stopped, my jaws open and my legs trembling, not of exhaustion but of absolute awe. I stood completely speechless as I saw the fog opening up in front of me, and there it was, a view I had only seen on photographs, a view I had been dreaming of my entire life, a view I didn’t expect seeing in that moment. The ancient ruins of the Inca’s hidden city. It was Machu Picchu. Right in front of me. Four days of hiking, and I had not been prepared for this moment to come so suddenly and without any warning in the middle of the path. I was not prepared for it to become such a mystic appearance.
I tried to get up my camera without taking my eyes of what was in front of me, I had to freeze this moment forever. My partner asked me to turn around to take a photo of me, I protested as I wanted to take my own, but smiled to the camera quickly before I turned around again. Machu Picchu was gone. Those moments I had turned around, the fog had covered up the ancient city of my dreams again, my snapshot moment was lost forever. That’s what I thought in that moment. Now I know that this moment will be with me forever. The feelings were too strong and the view was too extraordinary to forget. I took a lot of photos of Machu Picchu that day, but this special moment, when the ancient city showed its beauty surprisingly through the fog, the first sight, this moment will stay with me forever.
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