Hiking the Inca Bridge Trail
It was by accident that we hiked the Inca Bridge trail. As luck would have it, the trail markers were in Spanish, and Bill did not recognize the word for 'bridge' or 'trail', but saw the word 'Inca', and figured it must be the Inca Trail.
As we were getting ready to hike, we ran into our friend Linda, who we had met on a city tour of Cuzco. As luck would have it, we continuously ran into her throughout the trip all the way up to the Lima airport for our departure. After chatting and taking a few more pictures for our scrap book, the three of us decided to give the trail a shot.
We all made excuses about being slow hikers, but in actuality I think we all really wanted to look around at the scenery and chat. The trail was thin, but obvious, and wrapped around a ridge that revealed views of the mountains that we could not see from Machu Picchu. The scenery was impressive! The edge of the trail dropped down thousands of feet to an angry river below.
One of the wonderful features of this trail was the abundance of wildflowers. As we turned each corner of the trail there would be another orchid that we had never seen before, or some beautiful purple lupine mixed with graceful yellow flowers and lush green leaves.
The discovery of flowers slowed our progress, but we were all able to get some fantastic photographs.
As we walked along the trail, my sense of direction started to tell me that this trail could not possibly end up at the Sun Gate of the Inca Trail. We could see the Sun Gate from Machu Picchu as well as the trail leading up to it and now we were on the other side of the ridge and heading down.
We finally came across some hikers coming the other way. I asked them if we were on the Inca Trail, and the informed us that we were on the Inca Bridge Trail instead.
Linda, being the smarter of the three of us, headed back so she could rest up and give the REAL Inca trail a try later that day.
We said our good byes like they would be our last, and Bill and I continued down the path.
As we came around a corner with a sharp drop off, we were confronted with an impassable obstacle. A wooden bridge that was once part of the trail, hung off to the side of metal bars sticking out of the side of the cliff. The thousand foot drop off defined the end of the road.
The scariest part is that when this wooden bridge was in, people had actually crossed it!
From where we were on the trail, we were able to see the Inca Bridge. It looked like they had piled carved stones over a hundred feet high along the cliff, leaving a gap in a pattern with boards over the gap. It was both esthetic and with purpose. We were very impressed, but also glad that we could admire the bridge form afar. (You can click on the picture above on the right to see the bridge in a larger photo.
When we hiked back, we were happy to find Linda at the base of the Inca Trail, so we joined her again for another journey.