When I started out on the Santa Cruz hike this morning, I did it with the full intention of doing it alone, and of doing it without any help. Well, apparently doing it without any help at all is simply not how you do it. It seems that, at the least, virtually everyone hires a donkey to carry their gear. For the first hour or so of the hike, I constantly ran into random local dudes leading a bunch of donkeys, who kept asking me: "¿donkey, amigo?". Pretty soon, I got so tired of this, that every time I saw another donkey dude approaching, I just greeted him with: "hola no gracias" (lit: "hi no thanks").
The money was one issue. An extra USD$5 per day for a donkey (that would be $25 for my 5-day hike) would significantly increase the cost of this expedition. But the bigger issue was that I really don't need a donkey. I've done hikes before, that are just as hard as this, but where hiring a donkey is not an option: you simply have to carry everything yourself. Sure, my bag is very heavy (probably about 25kg). Sure, it would be more pleasant not having to carry it all on my back. But hey, taking a donkey is just plain cheating, and I know that I'm perfectly able to complete the hike without one.
And I will. Watch me.