Machu Picchu, Peru

Fog. There was only fog.

Our guide Americo pointed into the white abyss and said, “familia...there, through the fog, is Huayna Picchu and the best view of Machu Picchu.

We squinted, each of us, willing our eyes to see beyond the white wall of cloud. We had hiked fifty miles, for four days, and the thing we had come to see was invisible. Americo carried on, guiding us down ancient corridors of the lost Incan city while pointing at stone walls and rooms whose frames stood like ghosts against the grey mist.

We ordered coffee and camped out at the café, each of us hoping the sun would emerge. Two coffees later, slivers of sunlight exploded through the fog, and we set out to summit Huayna Picchu. The climb was an endless stairwell of steep, wet, rocks aimed toward the sky. From the highest point we could see the route we had walked along the river, arms outstretched over railroad tracks.

Machu Picchu is one of those places everyone swears you must go. And I guess it is; a spectacular place to behold. The thing I will remember most is the four days before; the cold nights, the card games, the stars; every step that carried us closer. The longest routes are the ones we remember most.