We regained energy later in the afternoon. The sun came out and after inhaling a lunch that included ice cold Coke, a hamburger with an egg on top plus ice cream, a group of us decided to trek back up to the Sun Gate for that perfect, money-shot view. Totally worth the extra effort.
It really is a you must do this once in your lifetime kind of a thing.
(And I even avoided looking at Machu Picchu postcards the entire trip, just so I wouldn't feel the dreaded tourist letdown seeing the real thing).
Don't let anyone scare you out of going. Because they will try, Walker and I carried a sense of foreboding the entire trip.
I would whole-heartedly recommend doing the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu - I don't see how it could mean as much or seem as magical taking the train in from Aguas Calientes and pulling up on the bus. I really, truly don't.
To me, it will be this isolated, hidden city we got to stumble upon after four days of hiking.
And that really is how you feel, you scoff at the good smelling tourists, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. You mutter assholes as they load off the buses. You drip with pride and condescension because you feel you deserve it. You earned this beholden sight more than they did.