YoYoFactory Adventure began before it had a name. We would always try to add to our formal travel with fun detours. When we gave it a name there was both freedom to just go places and pressure to do something special.
This year we went big. We crowdfunded our biggest trip and invited strangers to join us. The first to sign on was a guy named Louie. We didn't know him. He didn't know who was coming in on the trip or even where it was going. But he was in. Next Andre Boulay from YoYoExpert tossed his hat in the ring. Finally local Phoenix player Ryan and his dad signed up. That was a crew already! What about the players? Gentry has found his way onto some of the best YYF Adventure trips and his hand was up first again despite the fact this trip returned only 2 days before he was scheduled to defend his Usa national title. Paul Kerbel hadn't been in a trip since White Sands almost 13 months ago so he eagerly joined as well. The final slot went to YYF Adventure veteran Vashek. He had done Iceland, Jordan and if he could survive 40+hrs travel he would be on this one!
The idea for an adventure to Peru probably started in White Sands with Paul, who has some Peruvian heritage. Machu Pichu was the big draw with the romantic concept of hiking the Inca trail in. Logistically we needed to get the trip done in a week to fit into everyone's schedules so we planned it out to the last degree. Everyone traveled pretty light. We needed to deal with the fringes of the tropical rainforests, snow capped mountains and lots of time in planes. The biggest concern was altitude and how we would handle it. Cusco, sitting at 11,542ft would be our base camp. We would spend days lowered but also days higher....
Vashek and Gentry first met Louie in LA. We were not ever worried he wouldn't fit in, by having the adventurous spirit to book we knew he would be the right person. From there we stretched our budget the furthest by hopping to Panama, then Lima where we found a lonely Paul waiting for us. Ryan and his dad got better flights and were also waiting at the gates for our next flight. The sunrise jump over the Andes was spectacular. We arrived in Cusco. When Andre joined us shortly after the whole crew was together and we started exploring the city. Sights and smells, new sensations like extreme shortness of breath and new tastes.... like Coca.
Coca leaves were sacred to the Incas, and since then have been used as a natural remedy for many ailments, including headache, sore throat and stomach upsets. Today, the coca leaf is a vital part of the Peruvian national identity. It's also used as the base ingredient in Cocaine but they are NOT addictive or bad for your health. The main reason there is so much Coca in Cusco is to treat the symptoms of altitude sickness.
The tea offers less 'kick' than a cup of coffee but a couple of them and perhaps some chewing of the acidic leaf and the dull headache of altitude receded just a little. We needed to be at our best because the next morning we would be on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
The Inca trail originally ran all the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu. We didn't quite have that long so we bussed then trained it to a remote section of the trail where we would hike out of the valley, past waterfalls and less visited ruins entering Machu Pichu from the fabled 'sun gate'. We loaded up but hardly made good time. Too many oddities to see and places to film! Alpacas were curious but luckily the bears and Jaguar stayed clear. Finally we got to the sun gate and saw Machu Pichu. It's majestic appearance Only made us feel underprepared, what, how, when why? Who read the book?
Luckily the next day we would have a private guided tour to answer all the questions. Built in the 15th century, inhabited for less than a decade, lost for almost 400 years.... no, not made by aliens. Amazing. Time flew by. We found some quiet corners to soak up the view. Was this the pinnacle of our adventure?
Couldn't be. Nothing is that easy.
In the valley before local villagers were declaring industrial action. As we headed back to Cusco we saw the signs. Roads would be closed we would be trapped. Our activities the next 2 days were cancelled. What now?
A day spent exploring the town and fortress overlooking Cusco and some amazing Peruvian food wasn't going to be a bad way to spend the day. Louie went from quiet guy to leader. Ryan and his dad never far behind. We watched the sun set that night with another early day planned for tomorrow but no idea if the roads would be open.
Around 5am we swooped out of town. Heading up the valley away from the strikes we spent the day rafting on a tributary of the Amazon, finishing it off with a zip-line in the shadows of a 16,000ft peak. Luckily it was a light day as tomorrow we would be climbing one of them!
Here it was, our last full day. On plan we left before 5. Heading of the highways, off the sealed roads through small villages and heards of alpaca to a quiet valley...
It was frigid. As soon as we hit the first accent however cold wasn't a concern, we could barely breathe!
Previously on YYF Adventure we summited Mt Fuji. This hike began roughly at the same altitude that one maxed out at. It was slow going, more like a shuffle. The pause in breathing to even click a photo became problematic. Playing yoyo a downright chore! Still we climbed and climbed and eventually we reached the amazing Rainbow Mountain. 360 views and for some reason at the top, it felt easier to breathe.
Lifelong friends were made. Limits tested. With increased lung capacity and potentially failing an Olympic drug test due to tea consumption, Gentry won USA Nationals less than 3 days later. Vashek struggled through 40hrs of flights sick and Paul had to say goodbye to everyone and miss USA nationals. Ryan, Louie and Andre have standing invitations to join us on future adventures and we hope you can join us some day too!