When my mind isn't wandering, I can think pretty intensely.

 

A few railroad shots from Alex’s Canon T2i:

Following the railroad to Aguas Calientes and a cool snap by Josh Kling in Aguas Calientes.

Day 9.5: Exploring Machu Picchu. After a brain boggling tour of the ruins, team Kling, took the afternoon to wander the area and summit the mountain. Locating the Inca Bridge, we stood amazed at the pure determination and courage the Incans had, crossing this narrow, solid rock bridge running the length of an almost vertical >1900ft rock face. They were serious about potatoes.

As it was our last day on the journey and one of the wonders of the world, “to summit or not to summit” Macchu Picchu mountain slipped in to conversation. Friends, you may laugh here; however, team Kling swallowed a deep breath and pushed with no desire to come short of one last adventure. After an insane, 2000ft rocky staircase, we arrived at one of the most incredible views I’ve witnessed. The look down on Machu Picchu and surrounding mountain range pressed such a sense of size in to my worn out self. 

Photo two is Alex snapping me under the Inca flag as I shot photo three.

Day 9: Machu Picchu. What do you do when you’re in Machu Picchu?

Jump around like a bunch of loonies. Here’s a couple quick shots.

Day 8.5: Photos in Aquas Calientes, Peru. Between intense games of Gin Rummy, intensive bartering at the local market, and looking up at the mountains, we took a few-many photographs around the town. These specific, subject oriented shots have stuck out as a couple of my favorites. I left out the broad landscape shots, as day 9 will highlight Machu Picchu itself.

Day 8: Walk to Aquas Calientes, the village at the base of Machu Picchu.

After a short shuttle ride to Hidrolectricas(a hydroelectric project), we did some checkpoint procedures with our passports and disembarked to begin the day’s walk. Following a railroad track to the town of Aquas Calientes, cruising along a river, flat and scenic. Dotting the mountainsides, we witnessed history preserved through legendary architecture as more agricultural terraces seems to blend in as one with the landscape.

The pictures show one of the many dogs, strolling the trail, looking for handouts and part of the river running through the valley. After some previous experience with flowing water and slower shutter speeds, Alex and I hiked(slipped and slid) down from the railroad tracks to the river. We snapped a few shots and managed to get back up to the path. Side note: I believe the mountain on the far side of the river is Huayna Picchu.

Day 7: Strolling downstream with the glacial runoff. With a lot of time on the trail and most of it downhill, we took advantage of plenty photogenic scenes in the Andes. Armed with my ultra-wide angle lens (10mm-24mm), landscapes became an experimental focus. Balancing light, shuttle speed, ISO and f-stop pushed me to play excessively in the manual setting. With frequent opportunities to shoot moving water, I began to play with slower shutter speeds. The challenge became making amazing scenes look cool; however, I don’t think I’m quite skilled enough, but a few examples found their way to tumblr. Thoughts? Tips? Critiques? I now have a tripod, so “get a tripod” has already been addressed.

Day 6: Second day on the trek to Machu Picchu. Today, we met Mt. Salkantay, up close and it did not get any more friendly. This mountain holds the title as scariest mountain I’ve seen in person. We managed the trek from camp to 15,088 feet, taking a break at Salkantay pass. Having some spare time due to our pace, another guide gave us a top that an incredible glacial lake was just over a ridge, about a quarter of a mile off the trail. OUr buddy Josh, turned to Alex, Mick and me, and with some “last one there [sucks]” line, we took off, Canon T2i or T3i’s in hand and we sprinted toward the ridge. If you’re reading fast or skimming this, I’ll reiterate that we’re above 15,000ft. After about 200 yards of hoping over rocks, weaving between boulders and avoiding all the loose rock debris, this writer needed to slow his roll. No need to bust an ankle (or worse) or destroy my camera before we arrived at Machu Picchu. 

We snapped a few shots and broke off, back to the group, and the side adventure was completely worth any extra effort. If you’ve ever been to a place of natural beauty, you will understand the word “beautiful” lacks true power to describe what you witness. 

Elevation adventure: Wake up in the dry mountain valley at approximately 12,600ft, attack the pass of 15,088ft, and complete the day around 9600feet, in a jungle. Take that body.