Time Flies but Memories Last
Days can come and go in rapid succession. But while time whizzes by, when I stop and reflect on past travels, the clock tends to tick just a little bit slower. For me, that is one of the most beautiful things about travel. The memories aren’t left in baggage claim or on a camera’s memory card. They are experiences, images, thoughts and triumphs that you can revisit whenever you choose; an oasis in today’s fast-paced world.
I got to take one of these pleasant excursions through travel memories recently, as I listened to a presentation by Mountain Lodges of Peru regarding their new lodges in the Lares region: an isolated set of communities just outside the Sacred Valley in Peru. The Lares region is Mountain Lodges’ latest offering, but it was their first venture, their Lodge Based Trek to Machu Picchu, that kept popping into my head.
Several years ago I was fortunate enough to be invited to do the Lodge Based Trek with a great group of other travel specialists, and it ranks among the best trips I’ve ever taken; a combination of breathtaking scenery, fantastic accommodations, solitude that is hard to find, and the icing on the cake was that I had my 63 year old mother to accompany me.
We have always enjoyed the outdoors as a family, but I wouldn’t classify our family as ardent trekkers, so when I asked my mom if she would like to come along, she paused for a moment. Sure, the Salkantay Pass tops out at roughly 15,200 ft and we’ll be covering some 32 miles of mountain trails, but doesn’t that sound like an adventure? Never one to back down, my mom caved and agreed to join.
We had plenty of lead time to start getting fit and thus the excitement started to build. My mom started hiking weekly, going to physical therapy, and searching through every shoe catalog on earth to find that perfect pair of boots.
Some months later we met in San Francisco for the journey down to Peru, where we met the rest of the group. From Cusco we traveled west by vehicle to the small town of Mollepata, where some in the group opted to hike to the first lodge while others continued by vehicle. As we arrived to Salkantay Lodge we were all floored at what a spectacular setting we would be staying in for the next two nights. These small lodges were designed using Incan building techniques and maximize their breathtaking surroundings, with the first lodge looking straight at Mt. Salkantay, towering over us at 20,574 ft.
Each successive day was filled with more excitement as we hiked along beautiful mountain trails, taking in the ever-changing landscape as we descended into the cloud forest en route to Machu Picchu. The landscape’s transformation, combined with fantastic guides, porters and cooks, allowed us to really enjoy the day’s activities to the fullest, as well as the evenings… sometimes with a choice beverage or soak in a Jacuzzi. It was the perfect combination of daytime physical adventure and nighttime comfort and luxury.
It’s hard to put into words what a wonderful feeling it is to wake up in the early morning and step out into the crisp mountain air of the Peruvian Andes, the sun just starting to peek over the mountains. Or to share such an experience with my mom. But as I write this and remember standing on the lodge’s porch with my mom at daybreak looking off toward the Andes and the light trickling into the valley, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to make this memory. It is one I will cherish and revisit forever.