Healing On The Inca Trail
Here's my story about finding healing along the Inca Trail.
In late 2014 I was diagnosed with a more uncommon type of breast cancer and immediately went through surgery, months of tests, radiation treatment, and hormone treatment. As I was coming out of the fog, I came across Wild Women Expeditions through a mutual business group I belong to and discovered the trips they set up for women.
Honestly, I wasn't planning on going anywhere that year but felt 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. The trip was pre-planned which made it a no brainer. Even though I am an experienced world traveller, it seemed like a good idea to have things arranged, permits bought and gathered, porters hired, guides ready to go. (Also, I needed to hit South America for my 6th continent of travel.) A friend of mine, Annette, decided to join me, and we both joined the group.
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. When we made our way 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 quickly 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 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 realized I actually 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 jungle, in the mist, it felt so incredibly peaceful.
At night, the stars were so bright and plentiful that it was hard to make out the Southern Cross! Once everyone else was in their tents, I took some time to do some 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 third 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.
As the hike neared Machu Picchu, it was still very misty, so as we came to the Sun Gate, 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 the Inka Trail has sustained me through many months of medical tests, doctors, and uncertainty.
For a woman over 50, I wanted to be an example that no matter what, it’s time to keep going, keep trying new things and pushing myself. This trip filled me with joy in my heart and a readiness for more adventure.