Break from sports world paves way for an Andes adventure | PostIndependent.com
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Break from sports world paves way for an Andes adventure

Bringing it Home Joelle Milholm Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Heading into a nine-day adventure trip to Peru, I was prepared to take a leave of absence from the sports world.With the Broncos-Vikings season finale carrying little to no importance, I didn’t think I would miss too much, and I could always read up on bowl games and make it back in time for all the NFL playoff games. With the Nuggets and Avs still in midseason, I could catch up with them in no time upon my return.What I didn’t foresee was that in Peru I would take part in one of the most rewarding sporting experiences of my life – although it came in a form I never expected. So I set out on the voyage, ready to meet up with two friends living in Peru and explore South America and bring in a new year like I had never done before.

The first thing on the list was to see Machu Picchu, the most famous remains of the once-dominating Incan Empire. Nestled on a peak in the Andes, crazy jungle-looking mountains that look so different from the Rockies I am so accustomed to, I was looking forward to walking through the old agricultural fields, dwellings and temples.As we concluded our tour through the fascinating remains, our guide informed us we could get in line to climb Wayna Picchu – the mountain next to Machu Picchu that provides the picturesque backdrop to Machu Picchu postcards.Only 400 people are allowed to climb the peak each day to cut back on erosion. So, even though we had tired travel legs and only enough water to quench the thirst of a camel, we decided to do it.While I am sure a lot of the crazy outdoor mountain conquerors in Glenwood Springs and the Valley here could do the Inca Trail – a five-day trek that goes over a 13,000-foot pass into Machu Picchu – without breaking a sweat, just climbing to the top of the 8,860-foot Wayna Picchu was enough of a challenge for me.

The trail was steep, like a never-ending staircase. The small stone steps, part of the original Incan path to the top where they built even more agricultural terraces and temples, were relentless. As the steps wound up the mountains they mocked our legs, but we continued on until we reached the top.After climbing a few boulders and passing a few lizards, we reached the very top and each agonizing step was well worth the burn. The view was spectacular, reminding me of what a condor – a sacred bird worshiped by the Incas – would have seen while circling the peaks. What made it even more special was knowing how few people have stood there and had the privilege to gaze down at one of the most remarkable creations known to man.



After a long rest at the top, we began the descent. While it was far less taxing in the cardio aspect, it was no easier on the legs.In fact, my sore quads caused me to walk like a duck for the next two days as we toured Cusco. As if our blonde hair and white skin weren’t drawing enough attention, our walking style was probably quite amusing to the Peruvians.It was worth it, though. The hike was the best of my life and, along with the soccer I watched people play on cement courts and volleyball on the beach, gave me a fulfilling sports experience in Peru.Contact Joelle Milholm: 384-9124jmilholm@postindependent.com


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