First and foremost. Go there. Get to Choquequirao. Though this was perhaps the most epic hike I've undertaken in the Andes, it was worth every sweaty step. Choquequirao is hot, remote, expansive, mysterious and 100% magic. Go there. Did I say that already?
Now onto some lessons learned on a dusty, sweaty, major trek.
1. Take the long view. I learned this way back in my university Outdoor Pursuits days. Go figure, they were right. Yes, you will hike up for 1.5 miles straight. But you WILL get to come back down again. Oh wait, that part's painful too. Scratch point #1.
2. Don't drag your baggage along. Seriously! How many times do I have to learn this one? All you REALLY need is a Snickers bar in your pocket. All those cucumbers and journals really start to weigh a girl down.
3. Things never go according to your expectations. Ummmm....just ask my friend Carolanne, or anyone who's paddled Georgian Bay in 50km/hr winds. And the point is - this is usually where the best memories and experiences happen.
4. Why do we do this after all? Remind me... Some might say it's for the profound connections to nature and to one another. Some like to get really dirty so that a shower 5 days later feels just that much more phenomenal. I hold that it's for the discomfort that jerks you smack into the beautiful present. Or so that we can eat more Snickers bars. One of the two.
and 4.5 Break in your hiking boots first. Right Karen?
Now get thee to Choquequirao, Peru. Wow. No other words will do.