Harrison hikes the Inca Trail in Peru

Photo of a person and mountains

Sandra Harrison points to the top of Machu Picchu.

Sandra Harrison (Business/Administration) recently took a dream vacation by hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. She took the 7-day trip with fourteen of her cohorts from the Atlanta Outdoor Club, which typically does hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing adventures more regionally, but also organizes international trips for its members.

Sandra has been a member of the Atlanta Outdoor Club for over ten years and had been planning this trip for over a year.

The trip began with a layover in Lima, Peru and while most of the team stayed at the airport, Sandra decided to adventure, spending the night in a local hostel. The next day they flew on to Cusco, Peru, in the Peruvian Andes. Cusco was the capital of the ancient Incan Empire and is the starting point for the Inca Trail.

Before they began hiking the trail, the team spent two days acclimating to the altitude, which in Cusco is over 11,000 feet above sea level (for reference, Vail, Colorado is 8,000 feet, Atlanta is only 1,000 feet). The highest point on the trail would be Warmawa├▒usca, at 13,780 feet.

Photo of a group of people

The Atlanta Outdoor Club (Sandra is third from the left).

“We toured the ruins for two days to acclimatize before beginning the trail hike,” said Sandra. “Hiking at altitude was hard compared to hiking in the north Georgia mountains. However, the temperature was great. We started each morning at around 35 degrees and it was around 65-70 during the day.”

The Atlanta Outdoor Club was supported by a team of 18 porters, two cooks, and two guides. The uphill hiking was a tremendous challenge for the club members, but they had all spent time in Atlanta training for the trip. Sandra did her training by hiking in north Georgia but also by walking the six flights of stairs in the North Decatur Building, every hour, for three months.

After spending three nights on the Inca Trail, the team reached its final goal, Machu Picchu, the mysterious 15th century Incan citadel.

Would she do it again? “Absolutely not,” quipped Sandra. “I crossed it off my bucket list. I had a great time with a great group of friends, and the Peruvians were wonderfully nice to us. It was an amazing experience.”

“I used my vacation for the betterment of mind, body and soul.”

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