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Conquering Dead Woman’s Pass – Inca Trail Adventure Part VIII

G Adventures LogoFinally after two nights of not great sleeping I got a decent night’s sleep. Go figure. Put me in a tent, sleeping on the ground and I’ll sleep. Put me in a hotel and I’ll toss and turn all night. I’m sure the hiking had something to do with it, but I was happy to feel rested when our wake up call came.


At 5:30 Heather and I work up to Jesus tapping on our tent. One of the porters then offered us some Coca tea and hot water to clean up with. We drank our tea, got ready for the day, and vacated our tent. Almost as soon as we exited the tent the porters descended on it, folded it up, and packed it away. Their efficiency at packing up a campsite became very clear over the course of our hike.

Breakfast was hot beverages (tea, coffee, chocolate, etc) and pancakes. They were amazing. I’m not sure why, but food just tastes better when eaten outdoors. I have found it also holds especially true for food eaten on a sailboat.

By 7:00 everyone in our group was ready and we headed out for the second day of hiking. When we left camp the porters were working on breaking down the last of our camp. We knew that today would be the hardest day of hiking. Our primary goal was Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,215 meters (13,828 feet). The uphill started right away.

Selfie with Dead Woman’s Pass

It would take Heather and I about 5 hours to reach the Dead Woman’s Pass. At times we would walk 25 yards, rest for a bit, then walk another 25 yards. We learned that zigzagging across the trail helped. The frequent breaks allowed us to take in the scenery as we climbed. We noticed that we encountered three distinct eco systems along the way. We started in a valley, then we were in jungle, then finally mountain top.

Valley portion of hike to Dead Woman’s Pass

Jungle portion of hike to Dead Woman’s Pass

Mountain top portion of hike to Dead Woman’s Pass

Jesus did a great job with our group, allowing each person to tackle the challenge at their own pace. Never pushing, never making anyone feel like they were not doing well enough. Along the way there were several official break spots where our group waited for everyone to gather before continuing.

Trail up to Dead Woman’s Pass

The last 100 meters were the steepest. I am not sure it is officially the steepest part of the trail, but it sure seemed like it.  The goal was in sight and we could see Dave & Dan already at the top cheering everyone on. I’ve stood at the top of mountains before. I’ve enjoyed those moments of feeling like I was standing on the top of the world. This was different. Standing at the top of Dead Woman’s pass was more satisfying? I had not taken a ski lift to get here, I had freakin’ walked!

We spent about 30 minutes at the top taking pictures, congratulating each other, and just taking it all in. We had a bit more to go before lunch so Jesus pushed us over the pass and down the other side. As we descend down the other side of Dead Woman’s Pass it started to lightly rain. No big deal, we had our ponchos so after a quick stop to put those on we were good to go.

The trail going down is a series of uneven steps of varying heights. I would highly recommend that you rent the hiking poles from G Adventures even if just for this portion of the trip. In our case they not only saved our knees a bit, but with the light rain the steps became slippery so they provided extra stability.

Heather and I arrived into camp at about 1:30. Within 30 minutes everyone was there and exchanging stories from the decent. Here’s the funny thing, what had taken us 6.5 hours to hike had taken our porters 2! They were still packing up camp when we left, and had camp all setup and ready to go when we arrived.

Relaxing after conquering Dead Woman’s Pass

After lunch Heather and I spent the afternoon relaxing in our tent. It rained off and on all afternoon so everyone took the opportunity to relax after the hard day of hiking. After dinner there were no arguments from anyone about turning in for the night. Even the “giggle girls” in the tent next door made very little noise as everyone fell into a sleep coma.


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  1. Pingback: Inca Trail & Machu Picchu With G Adventures – Part VII - Shane KennyShane Kenny

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