A relatively lazy start to the day - walking at 7.15am. We had entered the cloud forest and it lived up to its name as it took a while for the morning sun to burn off the mist. Not all the climbing was behind us and in the morning we had a stern walk up to the top of the first pass but there were lots of stops on the way for various Inca ruins. The first of these was Rurkuraquay, a building built on the top of a sharp spur which from above looked like a ceremonial dagger. There is some debate about its exact use but judging by the stone work it was clearly important and well maintained.  One suggestion is that this is where Lama's were held while the pilgrims continued without their aid. Looking out across the valley our guide explained the Inca system of routes which had a big building every 30km interspersed with a smaller one every 10km. At each small stop there was a runner waiting for any messages which they would then sprint to the next stop and so on. It was claimed that the King could ask for fish and have it within 48 hours thanks to this system - very impressive!

From here the path leveled off somewhat and we traversed around to Suyaqmarka where we had to walk up an extra 100 steps to see the ruin close up, but at least this section was without our packs. As we approached we saw some conservation in progress, at least of the ruin if not human life. One chap was cutting back the undergrowth where it was climbing up the outer wall but he was stood on nothing more than a grassy ledge with a huge drop below. Top marks for effort. In fact all the ruins we were seeing were once covered in undergrowth until they were found and cleaned up and it is yet to be seen how many more spectacular remains are still waiting to be found. This particular set had plenty of rooms, perhaps for the pilgrims to stay the night on route. Some parts of the ruin had been rebuilt which was a good effort but our guide pointed out several mistake, walls leaning too far, roof rings in the wrong place so on reflection it might be best just to preserve what is there rather than trying to restore! From our high vantage point we could see some more ruins, Qonchamarca, which we were to walk past on the way to lunch. It is concluded from the meticulous stone work that these were of a religious significance, perhaps to remind the pilgrim just why he was putting in all the effort. From our lunch spot we could see more ruins on the sides of the valley, some only just being uncovered. We walked round to the first we saw which was an set of agricultural terraces. The Inca's grew different crops at the different altitudes to maximise the yields and it is notable that it was largely due to their efficient farming that they had the time to build such impressive monuments.

Strolling at the back allowed us some time to chat to Jill and Russell. While Jill was a Scot she has been living in Bristol for 8 years and seemed somewhat sensitive to the suggestion that a hint of West country had crept into her accent. Russell used to be a photographer in the RAF and as with all ex-service types had plenty of interesting stories to tell. Another benefit of hanging at the back of the group emerged when the guide stopped and started looking into the trees intently. Eventually we spotted a Tucan which we assume is a rare event when the guide got his camera out to take a picture! From here we walked down a large terraced area, used to grow corn at this altitude and then onto the campsite. Hayden and Carl had put on a spurt of speed to end the day and had arrived before the porters had finished setting up which caused them to panic somewhat, I suspect this doesn't happen often!

The campsite was on a steep slope, our own terraced area, but there was a purpose built building towards the end, crucially serving beer and had hot (for the first few anyway) showers. Just around the corner was Winaywayna, another terraces area but this time convex, not concave as the others are. On the way back the guide demonstrated that he hadn't lost his passion for the trail when he stopped by a small flower and whipped out a magnifying glass for a closer inspection. Dinner was in the mess tent by our camping spot and since we wouldn't see the porters again we sorted out a tip between us. With the porters lined up on one side of the table and us on the other Carlos could thank them in Spanish and put a few words to go with the money after which there was a round of applause and some furious hand shaking to end the evening.