My response is this: Penny Wark, you are an idiot.
Now, I’ve done a lot of crazy and adventurous things in my life, but I’ve yet to do the Inca trail. Sure, I’ve been on the Inca trail, but I haven’t yet been blessed with that miraculous alignment of time, money, and other astronomical events which would allow me to get out there and do the world champion of hikes. Frankly, I’d give an arm and a leg to have the job of this Penny Wark person, who so pitifully squawks about all her trials and tribulations rather than show even the slightest capacity for appreciating the great boon she’s been given.
Do you hear that TimesOnline? I’ll do Penny’s job for FREE! What’s more, I’ll even PAY half the expenses to do it! Aw heck, I’ll pay the whole thing! And you know why? Because walking the Inca trail is a privilege!
It constantly amazes me how people allow themselves to fall into the mindset that everything needs to be easy to be enjoyed. Not only that, people start to think they’re entitled to the cushy life and that the slovenly existence is the only one which can bring them joy. I don’t know if this mindset is a media creation, or if it comes out of simple laziness, but it drives me absolutely batty.
Those of you who have run marathons know that at the moment when you cross that finish line (and it doesn’t matter if it takes you 2 hours or 10) you are overwhelmed with a sensation of achievement that you simply can’t buy. It’s a feeling that you have to earn, and that makes it more precious than anything else in the world!
Donald Trump and Bill Gates might be billionaires but until they cough up for a marathon entry fee, train for it and run it, the experience I’ve had will be forever foreign to them.
As I said before, I’ve never hiked the Inca trail, but I had to hike out of Aguas Calientes once. There was a problem with the trains and the friends I was with had to get out in order to catch a flight the next day. Of course, we entered what would turn out to be a 20 km hike completely unprepared in terms of clothing, footwear, and food. We also started late and as the sun dropped behind the mountains and the cold settled in, we realized that we’d gotten in a little over our heads.
In the end, of course, we found the little village at Km 82 where buses to Ollantaytambo could be found, but in those moments of uncertainty where we had momentarily considered huddling together in the undergrowth and attempting to wait until dawn, I was as happy and energetic as I’ve ever been in my life.
Just the simple fact that the experience was so different, so extreme, and so radical had me in a state of absolute euphoria.
In fact, I’ve always been on the lookout for those kind of moments. Back when I was growing up in Wisconsin, my friends and I used to just go trotting out into the woods with nothing more than a hatchet, a sleeping bag, a couple packets of Ramen noodles, and a box of matches. We’d stay out for the weekend and basically just try to survive. Oh yeah, did I mention that we did this in the middle of winter, in three feet of snow, with the temperatures hovering around -20? As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that one doesn’t need to suffer quite as much as we used to strive for when I was fifteen, but you get the idea.
Certainly with modern camping equipment and taking it upon yourself to ensure that you have achieved a responsible state of physical fitness, the Inca trail can be very comfortable. There’s a trail there after all! It’s not like you’re breaking path like Ed Stafford. And if you do the Inca trail after having respected the undertaking, and prepared for it, and gotten yourself in an appropriate mental state where you can appreciate it; I guarantee you’ll find that it’s the type of experience that can change your life forever, and for the better.
But if you want to take the easy route and be like Penny Wark (sitting in the hotel pestering room service and getting fat I presume), then be my guest. I’ll be out enjoying the greatest sights on this planet! After all, it’s been my experience that nothing that comes easy is worth having.