Imagine my chagrin when less than three months before my Peruvian trek, I found out from seasoned Inca Trail hikers that the most arduous part of the four-day journey is climbing those massive cobblestone staircases that make up a huge chunk of the trail and that they wished they focused on stair training before their very first hike.

Being a Los Angeleno, I’ve been an experienced hiker for years. We’re a city of hikers, after all. It’s what we do here. I’ve hiked the surrounding mountain ranges in Southern California, the Sierra Nevada up north, the tall sand dunes in the Mojave Desert, and the Northern and Southern Coast ranges along the California coast.

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