Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weekend in Wine Country: 1/2 Corked Marathon

Our Room (photo by Spirit Ridge Resort)
Last weekend Mike and I went to the Okanagan for a weekend of fun in the sun! We left on Friday morning with Ange and started our trip with a drive to Penticton for an evening of climbing.  We managed about 3 hours on the rock before heading into town for a tasty Mexican, lake-side dinner at the Vallarta Grill. After dinner we drove down to our resort, the Spirit Ridge, in Osoyoos for a relaxing benign in our super-posh room.

Ange & Mike Climbing at Skaha

The next day we got up early and headed back to Penticton for a full on day of fun.  We spent a majority of the day hanging out in the sun with Ange, Steve, BJ and baby Ben at Skaha. We had a great time catching up with our friends and getting in some good climbs. After climbing we went to check out Painted Rock and Blasted Church Wineries and begin the wine tasting portion of our weekend. After tasting a purchasing a few bottles of tasty wine we met up Lara and Barry at Salty's Seafood House on the lake-shore in Penticton for Dinner. We ended our evening by hanging out and enjoying a few drinks back in our room in Osoyoos before hitting the sack.

Ange, BJ & Baby Ben

Hiking at Skaha

Steve & Mike Climbing at Skaha

Running thru the Vineyards (Photo by Stoneboat Vineyard)
On Sunday Lara, Barry, Ange, Mike and I participated in the 1/2 Corked Marathon which is an 18 km fun run from Osoyoos to Oliver. The run goes from winery to winery and has about 12 "aid" stations, complete with snacks and wine tasting along the way. It was a beautiful sunny day, 30c, and the scenery and course were perfect! We had a great time sampling the wine, checking out the various costumes and enjoying the friendly atmosphere. 

Aid Station wine tasting (Photo by Stoneboat Vineyard)

Wine Tasting @ Blasted Church Vineyard
A big shout out to all the wineries that participated and made the day super awesome! especially the ones with freezies, Frozen Granita and sprinklers to help us beat the heat! The race took us about 2:20 to complete since it was totally casual, but it felt like it went by in a flash since we were having such a  good time along the way. It felt like the shortest 18km ever!

Blasted Church tasting room

At the finish line they awarded us with a picnic lunch, 2 more glasses of wine, a bottle of wine and a wine glass to take home and a candy buffet. It was an excellent afternoon relaxing in the sun.

Once we left the race we checked out a few more wineries to stock up our wine collection, had some super tasty gelato in Oliver and hit the road for the trek home.
Painted Rock Vineyard & Tasting Room
Unfortunately our ride home was a little more eventful that we had anticipated. It started off great with lots of animal sightings: 5 deer, 2 bears and a Coyote, but once we got into Manning park we came across a bicyclist who had wiped out laying on the side of the highway. We pulled over to help him and after an hour of applying first aid and holding C-spine, an ambulance finally arrived to take care of him. Luckily Ange new what she was doing and did a great job of controlling the scene and it seem that the cyclist should be alright.

 An hour goes by very slowly when you're waiting for help and it was a good eye-opener as to why we should have blankets and first aid kits in our cars, especially traveling through areas without cell reception. Ya just never know!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Machu Picchu! Peru Part 5c: Cuzco, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu; April 8-14, 2012

First Glimpse from the Sungate
On April 13, after 3 long days of hiking we were finally on our last leg into Machu Picchu! We endured a 3:45am wake up call and after a quick breakfast hit the trail so we could get in line at the final check point.  At first light at 5:30 am, they opened the checkpoint, collected our tickets and sent us out onto the last 6 km of the Inca trail. amazing! 

 After about 1 ¼ hours of hiking, including checking out some nice views of the surrounding mountains and climbing the Monkey Stairs, we arrived at the sun gate and our first view of Machu Picchu.  The morning had started out rainy and socked in, but lucky for us it was starting to clear up by the time we reached the sun gate and we enjoyed a spectacular first glimpse of the lost city. It as

Sun Temple

After taking a few photos and enjoying the feeling of accomplishment to have finally arrived, we began our 45 min descent into Machu Picchu. We stopped along the way to take some photos at the classic postcard photo location for some awesome shots and then relaxed for a few minutes back in civilization with a coffee shop and running water.  After a short rest we went on a tour of Machu Picchu where we learned about some of the history and explored the highlights of the ruins. After half a day of exploring we took a bus down into town to enjoy a leisurely lunch and then board the train back to Cusco.  The train was a lot of fun too. We had amazing views of ruins and the surrounding peaks from the train.

Once we arrived back in Cusco we had a light dinner and enjoyed a much-deserved shower before heading to bed for a long sleep-in!

The next day we had a final day to relax and explore Cusco, but unfortunately, Mike and I were both really sick with what we think was food poisoning so we spent the day resting up for the next, final leg of our adventure.

Train back to Cusco

Monkey Stairs

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Peru Part 5b: Cuzco, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu; April 8-14, 2012

Packing up Camp 1

Up we go!

jungle hiking

Farm House
 On April 11, 2012 we were awoken at 5am with coca tea and hot wash water to start our 2nd day on the Inca Trail.  Today’s hike would take us on a 12km with  1200m of elevation gain from Wayllabamba, up and over the high pass at 4215m EL, Waimiwanusca (aka dead woman’s pass) and down the other side to camp number 2, Paqaymayo at 3600m EL.  After packing our gear and a breakfast of omelettes and Quinoa porridge we hit the trail which started climbing right away.
Porter & Cook Team

 We hiked at a slow and steady pace and after about 2 hours of climbing we all stopped for a snack and reconvened at the next camping area. The next section of the trail took us up a collection of ramps and stairs alongside a river through a dense, amazing, high altitude jungle. After another 1.5 hours we came across our porters and dining tent for our lunch break.  We had a great view of the surrounding peaks and valleys while we enjoyed a lunch of quiche, rice, salad and lemon meringue pie

Dead Woman's Pass; 4215m EL
 After lunch we met all our cooks and porters (19 of them for 11 guests!) before heading on our way. It took about another 1.5 hours of steady hiking to reach the high pass, Dead woman’s pass, which felt like a great accomplishment as the hardest portion of the Inca trail was now complete!

We hung out at the top for about an hour to let the group get back together, have a rest and take photos, but it was quite cold and rainy so we headed down fairly quickly. Unfortunately, on the hike down to camp it poured rain the whole way so we didn’t get great views on the 1.5 hr descent.

Resting at camp

Camp 2
 The whole day took about 9 hours on the trail, including breaks. Once we reached camp we took  a well deserved rest, dried out our clothes, enjoyed some warm tea and snacks over a card game  and had a tasty dinner of soup and spaghetti.
Inca Tunnel

 The Third day on the Inca trail is known at the long, but pretty day.  It consisted of 16km of hiking over 10 hours with a two hour climb up a high pass straight out of camp. The morning started out cold and rainy but the time we reached the top of Runkuraquy Pass it was lightening up and we had some nice views of ruins, mountains, green hills and hanging lakes. The next 4 hours were spent descending rolling hills into the cloud forest, with spectacular views and some more small ruins along the way to our lunch stop. We climbed some crazy steps up to the Sayacmarca ruins, which were awesome, complete with floating stairs.
Camp 3
After and excellent lunch, including cake for desert!, we checked out the Phuyupatamarca Ruins which are perched on the edge of a hill overlooking the valley below. After lunch we hiked for 3 more hours through  some tunnels and along stone trails in the cloud forest to the huge terraced ruins of Inipata Ruins, complete with Llamas everwhere and then after another 30 min of hiking we reached our camp for the night at Winaywayna. We had just enough daylight left to sprint to the Winaywayna ruins which were the most spectacular so far, especially with the river below and surrounding waterfalls. Beautiful! After a tasty pizza and Jello dinner we headed to bed to get so rest for Machu Picchu in the morning!

Floating Stairs


Stay tuned for the final Inca Trail post…..

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