If you haven’t read part 1, be sure to check it out here.
With the hardest day of the Inca Trail and one of the hardest days of my fathers life behind us, it looked as though all would be smooth sailing moving forward. Day 3 was meant to be significantly easier than the previous day. It’s only a 4-5 hour hike without any big uphill climbs. Our guide, David, told us that this day had the best views and that it was his favourite day of the entire trek.
However, As soon as we set out from camp, it was apparent that, although this was an easier day, my Dad was still nowhere near recovered from the day before. He was suffering, walking along the very slight uphill slopes. On the Inca Trail, even when the map shows flat terrain, it’s never completely flat. There’s always at least rolling hills. David called this, “Inca flat.”
Our group stuck together for most of the day. Occasionally, I would wander a bit ahead of the others, trying to find pockets, where I could have the path to myself. Whenever I found myself alone, on the ancient Inca Trail, I would connect with nature, in a walking meditation.
We passed by some more ruins and then a really steep downhill descent.
Just before reaching our next campsite, we passed by some ruins, which overlooked a beautiful view of the valley below. This is also where the famous Gladis Llama resides.
David told me to feed the llama an apple slice with my mouth. Without thinking about whether or not it was safe, I got down on one knee and let Gladis Llama take the apple from my mouth, in what may look like a kiss. When people noticed what I was doing, they thought I was crazy. However, once the guides said it was safe, several other people followed suit.
We were followed by one of the llamas when we left the ruins. My Dad had a nice scare, as he looked back to see a llama charging down the stairs towards him.
The place where we stopped for lunch was also the campsite where we would be sleeping that night. Once we arrived, my Dad was too tired to eat again. This frustrated me a little bit. He had been pushing his body to the limit for the past two and a half days. His body needed energy more than ever and yet he refused to eat, because he didn’t “feel” like he could.
Stop Doing What You “Feel” Like Doing
I believe that one of the reasons why many people struggle to achieve their goals and dreams is because they choose to take action based on what they feel like doing in the moment, instead of taking the right actions that will move them toward their goals.
Many people make a commitment to go to the gym and yet they don’t go when they feel tired and unmotivated. People commit to eating healthy, yet they they’ll go eat a hamburger at McDonalds because they have a craving. People commit to goals in their businesses and make commitments in their relationships, yet when things get tough or they don’t feel motivated, they aren’t willing to do what it takes.
“Commitment is doing the thing, you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.” – Darren Hardy
It’s easy to follow through on what we say we’re going to do, when we are motivated and pumped up. True commitment is being able to do what we said we would do, even if it’s the last thing we feel like doing at the time. One thing that separates great achievers from everyone else, is that they are willing to do the things they don’t want to do. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, regardless of if they feel like it or not.
This is one reason why it’s important to set clear goals and why it’s so important to have a clear set of values to live our lives by. Once we have a clear set of personal values, we can start making decisions based on what’s truly important to us, instead of on fleeting emotions.
“If you want to have the things in life that most people will never have, you have to be willing to do the things in life that most people will never do” – Unknown
To be clear, I am not saying, don’t follow your intuition or that you shouldn’t make spontaneous decisions. This is something completely different. If you have a spontaneous feeling or intuition that aligns with your goals and values then act on it. I’m just saying that when you feel like doing something that you know does not align with your values, have the discipline to take the “right” action instead.
Later that same afternoon, David took us to see some more Incan ruins, called Winay Huayna, which were a short walk away from our campsite. After my Dad returned to camp, I remained for a while. I sat back against one of the walls of the ruins and reflected on where I was.
We had to wake up at 3am the next day, for the final 2 hour stretch to Machu Picchu. After a light breakfast, we had to wait at the check point for a couple hours, in the dark, until the trail opened. It was still dark when we were released onto the Inca Trail. We had to use flash lights for the first 20 minutes or so, but the sun came up fairly quickly to light the way.
It was a really flat, easy walk until we reached the Monkey Stairs. We found ourselves face to face with an extremely steep set of 52 stairs. Most people had to use their hands to climb up like monkeys. You can see my Dad doing this in the photos below.
We reached the Sun Gate and finally got our first view of Machu Picchu.
We walked down a bit further to sit and watch the sun rise over the ancient city.
Three Feet From Gold
On the final push, with the end destination in site, my Dad was met with yet another obstacle. He started getting shooting pains in his knees. We had to slow right down, as he limped along, with pain etched clearly on his face.
He kept saying, “Slow and steady… I am going to do this.” After everything he had fought through and overcome up to that point, his knees had to give our on him when he was so close to his goal. But this is how things usually work in life, isn’t it?
“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another.” – Napoleon Hill
When we work towards a meaningful goal, with success just around the corner, the Universe tends to throw up a final challenge to test us one last time. This is why so many people give up on their dreams, when they are so close to achieving them. There is a great story in Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich”, called “Three Feet From Gold”, which illustrates this principle. You can read it here.
I stayed back with my Dad, while the two David’s went on ahead. Walking slow and steady we made it to table top, overlooking Machu Picchu. This is where the famous “post card” photos are taken. We hugged and celebrated. We’d made it!
After reaching Machu Picchu, David gave us a really great, 2 hour tour of the city. It was an amazing experience. Walking through the ruins, I could feel the ancientness and the old energy of the city.
Unfortunately for my Dad, Machu Picchu was full of even more stairs and the sun was really beating down on us. He started to feel sick. After what he’d been through over the past 4 days, I think his body was telling him, enough is enough.
As soon as the tour was over, we made our way out of the city and caught the next bus, to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes. Here, my Dad enjoyed a nice celebratory beer.
Thank You Llama Path!
This was an absolutely phenomenal experience for me. The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu were spectacular, however, it was watching my Dad, accomplish what he did, that made it so special for me. I have our guide, David, to thank for this. He never gave up on my Dad. He was his guardian angel.
I have to give a big thank you to David and Llama Path for making this experience possible for us. It was so much more than just a trek for us. Llama Path is an absolutely amazing company. They exceeded my expectations in every way possible and I highly recommend that you choose them for your own Machu Picchu journey.
Nothing Is Impossible
So my Dad made it! I’m so proud of him. I knew he could do it. He just had to start believing it himself. I didn’t have to constantly be by his side to drag him along, either. I let him fight his own internal battle and he emerged victorious.
I believe that it’s really beneficial for us to continually push ourselves to take on new challenges and to push our comfort zones. Whenever we doubt we can accomplish something, I say we should do it anyways. Constantly proving to ourselves that what we once didn’t believe possible, really is possible, is one way we can build confidence and self esteem. Do this enough times and eventually we can begin to believe that nothing is impossible.
If you are someone that doesn’t currently have much confidence in certain areas of life, then start small or put yourself in positions where failure is not an option. I’m not saying that most of us should go out and try to climb Mount Everest tomorrow or that someone who has never owned a business should set a goal to build a 100 million dollar business within the next year. These are both things I plan on doing, but they are things I will work towards, gradually.
“The problem with human beings is not that we aim too high and fail; It’s that we aim too low and succeed.” – Michelangelo
Start doing small things that are outside of your comfort zone, every day. Gradually prove to yourself that you can do the things you used to think you couldn’t. Years ago, I was taught that we should continuously set goals 10-20% bigger than anything we’ve ever accomplished before. Aiming for more than this can actually be demotivating to most people. Yet, by continuously improving by 10-20%, over enough time, we can eventually become and accomplish anything we set our minds to.
By setting bigger goals and pushing our comfort zones, even if we don’t fully accomplish all that we set out to achieve, more often than not, we still end up much further ahead than if we had aimed low. When we first start doing this, it can be surprising to realize how much we are really capable of, and how silly it was that we used to let our limiting beliefs control us.
Remember, the the job of the human mind is to protect us and keep us safe. To make sure we survive, not excel. To achieve our dreams we must stop listening to the little voice in our head. Every time we let a fear stop us and every time we let a limiting belief hold us back, we slowly build a prison around us. It’s time to break free and start living.
As David said, “For the Inca’s… Impossible did not exist.” I believe the same for all of us today. I hope that you can come to share this belief someday, if you do not already.