Three months of training is recommended. Any cardiovascular endurance training will be helpful, but spinning and steep hikes specifically will help you strengthen your quads and the support muscles surrounding your knees. As for strength training, stairs are critical (as most of the trail is giant steps). A stair stepper at the gym is great, just make sure to add some weighted lunges as well to simulate the downhill especially if you already have any knee issues. If you have the opportunity, 1-2 days at high altitude shortly before you leave will also help to avoid altitude sickness.
Do it with Your Boots On
Don’t just wear them around town , wear your boots during your workouts. Yes, I was a total nerd at the gym but that’s how I discovered that I needed fatter insoles, medium weight socks were ideal with liners, and exactly how tight I needed to tie my laces to find that perfect place in between not too loose to cause heel blisters and not too tight to crush my arches.
Get Out of the Trench
Trench foot is a potentially serious ailment similar to frostbite that happens in warmer climates when feet are wet for long periods of time. Wear waterproof boots and new pair of socks each day. Give your feet regular breathers by wearing sandals around camp and sleeping without socks. Don’t have numb big toes for weeks afterwards like I did.
Bring Your Lady Things
The stress of physical exertion and being above 9k can do strange things. Two women in my group who weren’t using hormonal birth control started their periods a week early. One brought supplies, the other had to do the best she could with extra toilet paper and medical tape.
Sure, a lot of chocolate is grown and produced in Peru, but remember, South America still IS NOT Europe with all of it’s creamy milky candy making traditions. When you get to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass you’re going to want to rewards yourself with something you already know is amazing. If you’re trying to be all healthy, well just remember that Snickers (with almonds please!) has a similar nutrition index to most energy bars. Same thing for Bit O Honey’s for all you crazy chocolate haters.
Save Your Knees
So you think you don’t think you have bad knees? Well you’re about to, so use poles. Seriously though, you’d be surprised what that kind of downhill can do, particularly to female legs as many ladies don’t have very developed muscles around their knees to support them. You can always fold them up and strap them to your pack if you end up not needing them. Most guide services rent them. If you bring your own you need to get rubber tips for the ends.
Pack a Poncho
I absolutely love having rainproof jacket and pants. However, if it’s not a downpour you’ll be happy to get some rain protection from something a little more airy than a full body sauna suit. On the other side of the coin, breathable means permeable, so if you do get enough precipitation to cause your Gortex rain gear to fail, once again be glad you’ve got a vinyl hooded blanket to throw on.
Be Socially Responsible
Some tour companies really exploit the locals that work for them by requiring them to carry 80lb packs without providing them with sufficient calories or hiking boots. Be wary of the cheapest companies. Also, if you bring an MP3 player, use headphones. Although becoming more common, it is definitely unpolitic to subject all those around you on to your music.
Bring a towel and flip flopsDon’t Carry Too Much
It is nice bring a towel and flip flops to lovely to have the extra motivation of a few tunes or a good audio book provides. Please use headphones when you listen, it is considered poor trekking ethics to use speakers and subject all around you to your music tastes.