Healing on the Inca Trail
By Donna Reina | September 16, 2016
In late 2014 I was diagnosed with a more uncommon type of breast cancer and immediately went through surgery, then months of tests, radiation treatment, and now hormone treatment. As I was coming out of the fog, I came across the Wild Women organization through a mutual business group I belong to, where Jennifer was talking about all the trips they set up for women.
Honestly, I was planning on going somewhere else in 2016, but then, I realized I was getting signs here and there about Peru. I picked up a book that turned out to be all about the history of the Inka Trail, then a friend mentioned it, then some clients started talking about it. As it is with the way I travel, I notice and listen to the calling. Seeing the trip was all pre-planned made it a no brainer. Even though I am an experienced world traveler, it seemed like a good idea to have this part of the trip arranged, permits bought and gathered, porters hired, guides ready to go. (Also, I needed to hit South America for my 6th continent of travel.) It turned out a friend of mine, Annette, decided to join me so she came along too!
Arriving in Cusco for 2 days of acclimation was a pretty good idea, I had been sick with acute bronchitis, so my lungs needed time to adjust to the altitude. Once we walked around the town a bit, it became clear that our excitement for the hike was completely justified. Once we moved on into the Sacred Valley, the trip took on a surreal feeling of exploration and adventure.
Most of the women on our trip were from Canada, however, a few of us came from the United States. We were all so happy to be there, it brought an instant camaraderie to the group. For me, I realized pretty quick that something else was happening to my mind, body, and spirit.
Hiking through the ancient ruins, I felt surrounded by the ancestors and it was very comforting. I felt that something was happening to my soul. As we visited the weavers way up in the Andes, I felt a strong connection to community and history.
Once the hiking started on the actual Inka Trail, I felt this power literally start to surge through my body. Each day I got stronger and stronger, even with less sleep. I realized that I also needed to meditate and have quiet time on the trail because there was healing happening beyond what I had any idea I needed. Even the challenge of hiking up to nearly 14,000 feet on the second day of the hike brought a feeling of contentment and deep peace. Sitting on the peak with all of the other women, knowing we made it, was such a powerful experience.
And, by the way, in case no one has told you, the Inka Trail is REALLY the Inka staircase. One long badass staircase, up and down. My perception was that once I made it up those big mountains, that going down would be a breeze. Well, that’s not really the case, I had to zig zag down and up the mountains (which our Guides shared with us, thank goodness), to save my knees and back. As we moved through the high jungle, in the mist, it felt so incredible peaceful.
At night, the stars were so bright and plentiful that it was hard to make out the Southern Cross! Once everyone else were in their tents, I came out and did healing meditations under the stars for about 45 minutes. It felt like I was in the cosmos, floating around in the stars, BEING ONE WITH ALL CREATION. It was such a beautiful and personal experience that I had each night on the trail.
On the 3rd night it was misty when we went to bed, but our guide had told me that if it cleared up, it was the best view of the trip. It was crazy but when I got up in the middle of the night to use the “special tent” the clouds actually parted and I was able to do a meditation and see the Milky Way so brightly it took my breath away. As I walked back to my tent, the clouds covered back over the sky. I just smiled, knowing that I had been given a special gift from the angels. Simply beautiful.
As the hike neared Machu Picchu, it was still very misty, so as we came to the Sun Gate (no a ray of sunshine to be found), I stepped aside and had some words with the power of the universe. Ha! I explained that we had come a long way, at great expense, and expected to see Machu Picchu. As we got lower, it finally came into view and it felt like I could breathe again.
Hiking up Huayna Picchu the next day, the sky was bright blue, and it’s straight up the side of the mountain on these tiny stairs! It’s a crazy hike, but at the top as I stared out to a 360 degree view of the Andes Mountains and Machu Picchu below, I knew I had come there to heal and renew my spirit.
The strength I gathered from Inka Trail has sustained me through many months of medical tests, doctors, and uncertainty. Another thing is that for a woman over 50, I wanted to be an example that no matter what it’s time to keep going. By trying new things and pushing myself. This trip filled me with joy in my heart and a readiness for more adventure.