Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 9: ~13km, Owie ow ow ffffffff, then cheating/success

I woke up sore, so D and I got ready very efficiently (despite having to pick goatheads, aka "bindies" out of EVERYTHING) and go on the trail before Englishman and GrownUpFriend. However, they caught up and my ankles and knees began to hurt within maybe 1km. Going downhill is the worst; my knees just don't want to do it. So I have to side step down, but I must remember to change sides frequently, or muscles in my thighs start to cramp up. 

Welcome to New Mexico. There, I said it.
Teeeheeheeheehee. (we didn't make it, just found it on the trail)

 After about 9kms, I was in a fair amount of pain, but I doggedly continued on. We hardly rested, as I didn't want to fall too far behind the others. As you may have noticed, most of our landscape photos feature my back; this is because D had the camera (bigger pants pockets) and he had to walk behind me otherwise he'd accidentally leave me in the dust. At about the 10km mark, we get a call on the walky-talky from GrownUpFriend and Englishman. They were at the next campsite, Hugh Gorge, and they were eager to once again move on, after they ate lunch.

 It's at this point that I kind of lost it. It's already past 1pm, I'm in increasing pain, the others are more than an hour ahead of us, and I've lost my optimism. I figure the only thing I can do is keep walking, as fast as possible, without stopping. This is not particularly ideal, as my ankles and then feet just keep on aching more and more, and we hadn't eaten lunch yet, so I was running out of calories too. The last 3km to reach Hugh Gorge I spent muttering angrily to myself and/or crying at how much everything hurt, and D miserably trailed behind, unable to convince me to stop and rest.

 Hiking Lesson: Remember to medicate yourself with food and pain killers.

 When we finally made it to GrownUpFriend and Englishman, I was too exhausted to even talk; I just had to sit and focus on putting things into my mouth (tortillas, then ibuprofen, then water, then more food, then more water). GrownUpFriend and Englishman wanted to walk another 4kms, up the frigging mounting to the next campsite, because it was supposed to be pretty or some shit like that. Meanwhile, D was silently worrying that I was so injured I'd need to quit the track. I, however, was in too stubborn a mood to consider that an option yet, but it's clear I'm in pain and grumpy. So D goes and studies the map on the trail sign:
The next section of the trail. See that topography? See "Razorback Ridge"? Ffffffffffffffffffffffuck that.
 Whilst we were sitting, mulling things over, a group of hikers came down the mountain, and a van pulled up out of nowhere. D goes and chats with them, and finds out they were getting a pre-arranged lift back towards civilisation, with the same company we'd paid to take us to Mt Sonder, and even the same driver guy who'd picked up the Colonel and SuperAussie a few days earlier. D comes back to me, and asks "Want to catch a ride with them? They can take us to the next campsite, Birthday Waterhole." 

 It's perfect: the van has exactly two spots left; the 4WD trail goes right past Birthday Waterhole, so it won't even be out of the way for the van; GrownUpFriend and Englishman can walk the next section and meet us at Birthday Waterhole; and best of all, I don't really have to walk anymore. Hallelujah, it was a miracle. 

 Next thing I know, we're in the van, bouncing down the track, and listening to the happy chatter of the group of international students (and giggling at the American guy who sounded very, very American, in a nice way). 
I am OVER THE MOON that I'm not walking.
And then suddenly, we're at Birthday Waterhole. (Ok, so I had to walk a leeeetle bit more to get there, but it was nothing compared to earlier.) 
Birthday Waterhole: an early half-birthday present to me!

The wind kept blowing from all directions, so we tried to hide our tent behind a rock to shelter a bit.
It was a bit surreal to suddenly be without our hiking companions, and to have skipped a section of the trail. We met some guys who said we'd "missed the best part of the trail" but fuck that noise. I got to rest and barely move for 24 hours, D got to go exploring and have a freezing cold bath in the waterhole, and best of all, we got to finish walking the trail. 

So thanks, random internationals from a uni in Melbourne, for organizing a pick up at that exact time and place so we could meet you and bum a ride. You guys are awesome.

More to come...

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