Inca Trail Update: Day -174

With the start of our Inca Trail Trek less than six months away now, we have passed some important milestones – despite almost constant preparatus interruptus over the few months.

First milestone: we have now walked over 1,000 miles in our exercise walks. To put that in perspective, if we had set out from Washington DC heading south on US95 back in mid-August when the madness first consumed us, we would be between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida right now.

Second milestone: we now have our hotel reservations in Cusco, Peru for before and after the hike, we have our Sacred Valley tour booked, and we are still thinking about the Painted Mountains (more on that later). We will be booking flights as soon as I can finalize our side trip to Bolivia.

So that’s all good news. The bad news, is that we really should be somewhere in the Keys right now instead of north of Miami. Also, I should be at or below the magic 200 pound barrier, and instead I’m stuck at another fateau – this time in the 220’s. Over the last three months, life has conspired to make it difficult for us to continue to make progress as far as getting into shape for the trip.

It all started back in early November, when the still hard-to-grasp results of the Presidential election unfolded. As I reported, we were knocked for a loop, and it took a while to recover and to decide there were still reasons to continue living. Just as we were getting back into a groove (perhaps drying out is a better term), Thanksgiving hit and I managed to gain five pounds in one evening.

That was followed by Christmas and another large feast, then a wonderful visit by my daughter and grandson. We had a great time, but it did play havoc with our usual schedule of walking at least three miles twice a day, and meant more meals in restaurants and on the road.

As soon as that was over – literally, we dropped my daughter off at the airport and checked into a hotel next to the hospital – Rita had her gall bladder surgery. If the recovery from that was not enough to keep us firmly off-track, just a few weeks after the procedure we had another visit. This time Rita’s son, his wife, and their three-year old boy. Once again, lovely visit, great time had by all, but it really completed superseded our training routine.

And we weren’t finished yet. Around that time I was asked to write about Loja for the International Living web site, and since I hadn’t been there for over a year, I thought a new trip was in order. As soon as word got out, I was asked to also get new pictures in Vilcabamba. Once again, we dropped our guests off at the airport in Guayaquil, and this time left immediately for a road trip to Loja province.

Back only 36 hours from Loja, and it was time for me to leave for a three-day writers conference in Panama City. I did manage to walk a few times there, and learned quite a bit about writing and editing, but I also found out on two different nights just how much a group of editors and writers from around the world can drink when they get together (quite a lot, as it turns out). Finally, at the end of February, it looked like we could get back to normal. Except of course that Salinas is experiencing the wettest rainy season in 17 years, so for the first time since we moved here, we also have to consider the weather before we head out.

But we are back on track now. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been back into a minimum of two three-mile hikes every day. Rita is getting stronger post-surgery, and my weight has started to creep back down. We’re eating healthy at home, and on a regular schedule.

Of course in just a seven days we are leaving to visit the States for a few weeks, so once again the training schedule goes into the crapper.

The trip is necessary, not just to visit family, but we also need to get our supplies and equipment for the trek. At the moment, we aren’t sure how long we will stay, since we also have to get some documents apostilled to use in filing for our Ecuadorian citizenship on our return. Some of this we can take care of in person, but some has to be done via mail or overnight delivery, so we may have to wait for items to return to us.

We remain positive about our chances though, and excited about the planned hike. Once we return, we will still have almost five months to finish preparations. And we will have our equipment, so we will be able to do some altitude hikes here in Ecuador as test runs. We plan to hike several spots around Quito, including the Cotopaxi park system, in areas ranging from 10,000 to just under 16,000 feet in June, and then in places near Cuenca like the Cajas and Ingapirca in July. We will continue the exercise hikes, and hit the stairs hard in our condo building.

Those are our plans. Let’s see if life gets in the way again.

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