It is done and dusted now. The 2012 Oxfam Trailwalker. We raised just over $3500 which was great considering our aim was only for $1000.
The day started wet. Rain, rain and more rain. That steady rain that soaks through everything. Wet shoes, wet socks and wet legs.
My husband dropped us off. It was a bit different from last year when everyone came to see the team leave at the start. They cheered us on. This time, K drove the four of us there and said "It's raining so I am going home". So there we were, four gals waiting for the start. And below is a photo of us at the start waiting for the clock to tick over. We were not the only four people there by the way. There were plenty more.
The walk to check point one was wet but by the time we arrived the skies had allowed some blue to show and we could walk without our rain gear on. I had no blisters at this point whereas last time I had at least five and a reaction to the blister pack which was to make the walk very difficult.
Below is a photo of a pretty lake we passed by. It was about 1.30 pm by then and the day was nice and warm.
In this photo we were just about to arrive at check point two where K was meeting us for a late afternoon lunch. We all felt pretty good and were ready for a nice feed.
The walk from check point two to the next one was very unpleasant. All uphill and as daylight savings had finished the night fell early and we were walking through narrow, muddy and slippery bush track. At one point we had to use ropes as we slid down a track, the only lights were from our head lamps. My new shoes were caked in mud.
It was cold and I was wearing my thermal jumper and long pants by now.
One of the girls was not feeling well. She had been struggling with back pain on and off with training and it was playing up again. By the time we arrived at check point four at 9.45pm she was very unwell with foot pain, blisters, nose bleed and aching back. After a rest and some medical treatment we were able to continue the walk almost two hours later.
By now it was midnight and we were heading into bush track which required lots of ground focus. Tree roots, loose rocks and overhanging branches were all over the place. The girl who had not been well started to go down hill and her pace slowed as we kept walking. I stayed back with her whilst the other two walked ahead. This often happens where two of us may have a burst of energy and walk ahead but usually no more than 100 metres. Then we wait or slow down for the others to catch up.
However, for some reason the other two powered on ahead into the night and out of sight. Not many people are on the track at that time so it was really important to stay close in case someone hurt themselves. Anyway, the other two kept a fast pace and somehow they separated. One took a wrong track and the other one was totally freaked out as to where we all were. Eventually they found their way back to a small park which was on the track and we caught up with them.
I was fuming by this stage because it was irresponsible and dangerous to break up as a team and I spoke to the two of them only for one of the girls to become so defensive and hostile about it that I did exactly what I had told them not to do and I walked off and left them. I walked and kept walking until my seething 3.30 am shitty mood settled. I knew the track was one without deviations and they could not get lost but I just had to walk that mood off to avoid an argument. I got to the next check point and waiting for about 15 minutes for them to catch up.
Needless to say we kissed and made up.
The team member who had been unwell retired at this point.
So three of us were left to finish the walk. By the time we left this check point for the next one it was almost 5.00 am and we covered 14km's in 2 hours and 20 minutes which we were pleased with considering we had no sleep.
Below are some photos of the morning as we walked along the track. As a large part of the track is a former railway line there are remnants of the old train station platforms still there for us to see. Woori Yallock is one of them.
This photo was taken around 7:00 am in the morning and the fog was so beautiful. Everything was peaceful with the exception of some birds waking up. As I walked I realised how long it has been since I just felt some sort of connection with my immediate surroundings.
The morning sunshine was shining through the fog with the promise of a sunny day showing.
We arrived at the 72.5 km mark at about 7.20 am and had breakfast. It was only then that I started to feel quite tired. The girl who had joined us for the first time was feeling very whiney and voiced her concerns about being able to go on because her feet hurt. I think I was a bit rude and said that should she choose to finish because her body parts hurt then that would be a bit silly at this point and she would regret it. Retiring due to injury was one thing but retiring because of the ouch factor is quite another.
So we left there and made our way for the final section. The worst part of the walk. Tired as can be. Two of us with upset stomachs (me being one of them). We plodded on to the next check point which was about 14.5 km of the most boring parts of the track. This is where the head space really needs to focus and not allow the body to win.
We were also feeling a bit sick of food. It is a weird thing with the whole eating thing. Normally people just do the three meals a day with a few snacks and the process usually revolves around being hungry. But when you are doing a big walk like this you need to keep a steady flow of energy and you need to make sure the timing for food is correct. Once you start to feel tired or lacking in energy and then eat, it can take a bit long to feel refreshed again. This happened to me at the 7.20 am check point where I arrived starving for some food and ate a giant bowl of porridge covered in golden syrup. Rather than energise me it made me want to sleep like a fat cat which was not the best feeling when I had to do some serious walking.
So I left that check point with a very fat belly and tired legs. I was so, so wanting a snooze and the early morning sunshine was just making the feeling extra delicious. The thought of sleep was so enticing that I wanted to lay down on the green grass and close my eyes. As that was not an option, I whinged instead.
Our new girl was a bit shitty that we would not allow any rest except to stretch. Once you sit at this point the muscles freeze and it is harder to keep going. Only once did we allow a five minute sit down and then kept on walking. Her grim face at the next check point said it all. We stayed there to fix our feet and relax before heading off to the final check point where the support crew would meet us before the final part of the journey.
Thank goodness for music during that stretch of the walk. It made the walking easier. Now and then we would do a random dance for the fun of it.
We arrived there in good spirits but not looking forward to the steep hill up ahead. 7km's of steep ascent after 93 km's of walking with no sleep is so, so very hard. However, we managed to do it in less than two hours and our greeting party were totally unprepared and did not see us run past the winning post. Not that we cared, being so grateful it was just over.
The next day I just hung about in my pj's until the late afternoon. Apart from a few sore muscles and some small blisters on my feet I was fighting fit. Then today (Monday) I was back at exercise class. So the training effort paid off. I found it easier this year.
Will I do it again next year? Ask me in six months when registrations are open again. The walk itself is hard but the hardest thing is the training and the fact my leisure time is very limited because of that. I am not committing myself one way or the other right now. Just really looking forward to my weekends being free.
Now, what can I do for my Winter project?