Day 12 Tues This is it! Our Huayna Picchu climb. Up early , had breakfast and collected our gear. Left the walking sticks behind because Darwin, our guide, said we'll need both hands to climb. Darwin met us and we walked to the bus that will take us up to the Machu Picchu temple and from there we walk through the ruins to get to the entry. There are only 400 people allowed up there per day, 200 at 7 in the morning and 200 at around 10. You are required to sign in and when you return, sign out so they can be sure that you made it back down. The morning was foggy and it had rained so I was a little nervous about climbing on wet rocks. Darwin said we just take it a little more slowly. It wasn't cold yet everybody waiting in line had jackets and wool hats. I had a t- shirt. I did notice people here were dressed in heavier clothing than I would as the temp was probably in the 60s. We began our hike to to the natural bridge to the mountain. Once we reached that point Darwin saidthat this was the actual beginning to the hike. We're in trouble. We're already huffing and puffing. We continued our ascent slowly, allowing the more adventurous hikers pass. Darwin was ever considerate. Everytime he recognized that we could use a break he said it was a good time for a kodak moment. He was an older man, probably in his 60s with a distinguished Inca face and a full head of graying hair He had been doing tours in Cusco and here for 32 years. He gets home to Cusco once a month to see his family. He has 2 daughters, 16 and 7. After about 45 minutes of climbing our legs were visibly shaking. I wondered if we should have been working out on a stair stepper to work up to this. There were some incredible views when the fog woul lift momentarily. I concentrated on the climb fighting back the vertigo. I knew once I looked over the edge my knees would tremble more then they were doing now. The climb included some steps but mostly well worn rocks. There was a wire cable attached to the wall of the mountain in some areas that were particularly steep. The path took us zig zagging up the mountain til we reached the beginning of the Sun Temple. This structure was encredible. There were more terrace gardens. The steps up were narrow and steep. I was already dreading the descent. We climbed to a viewing level and took some pics. We weren't at the top yet. To get there we had to duck down and waddle through a cave that was about 20 ft. Then we had to take of our backpacks to squeeze through the openning to get to the next level. Almost there, can't give up now. Once out of the cave we climbed about a 6 ft ladder. Ureka! We're at the top! We climbed around the rocks taking a couple of pictures. We had to shimmy around a rock on a 9 inch ledge to get to the rest of the temple. Don't look down! Then another of these rocks. Ok if others can do it, so can I. We came to a ledge that was a great viewing- picture area where a number of people had gathered. We hung aroundthere for a while careful not to get too close to the edge while others were sitting and hanging there legs over. Not us, we were ok sitting o the rocks closer to the mountain. I was dreading the descent down as sometimes it's worse than the ascent. It's hard to avoid looking at the sheer drop. One foot at a time and with the help of handholds on the rocks, we made it off the temple and back on the path. The descent from this point was easier than I had anticipated. We had plenty of stopping points as we met the hikers from the second group making their ascent. Once we reached the bottom, we traversed the sacred city and back down to the bus stop. We proceeded to our hotel where we bid Darwin goodbye. Took a shower and went to lunch where we were greeted by our traveling companions with congratulations. They were in awe and I guess, so were we that we did this. We then went for a much needed and well deserved message. Great day.