So, the training has officially begun for the High Pyrenees Explorer. 16 days of hiking in the Pyrenees, bordering France and Spain. Four intrepid adventurers wandered off into the Blue Mountains. Planning an overnight hike. Govett's Leap - Straight into a steep descent down slippery wet rock stairs with 10kgs in the backpack was a shock initiation. I have trekked with a pack before but no warm up, made for a quick need to reorientate the body to the extra load shifting about and affecting my balance. I employed, for the first time, a hiking pole. Ok, 50 sucks and my 50 year old knees need the extra aid. I'm not proud, pass me the damn pole.
We had planned a 14km hike in and then returning out along the same route. We had our eyes on a campsite on the rivers edge. Once we found the bottom of the valley we followed the rivers flow and travelled through rainforest, open Aussie bush scrub and the amazing Blue Gum forest. Unfortunately for me, my brand new boots, with only one 8km hike around Barren Grounds to break them in, decided they didn't want to do the hike in one piece. The entire sole of my right boot decided to peel away after only an hour into the hike. WTF!!!! Now what do I do! Luckily I had packed some rigid tape for my ITB, just in case, and taped my sole back to my boot. After a short while, guess what? the left sole started to peel.
I trekked with my eyes peeled to the ground searching for bailing twine and other bits and pieces I could use to hold my boots together. In true MacGyver style I taped, tied and rubber-banded my boots together. We made it to the campsite after 6hours of hiking and set up camp. What a beautiful spot. Right by the river and the weather was so warm that I was very comfortable. We swam in the river, well I tippled my toes in the water while Big Gaz, Papa Bear and Queen B got wet. We had a great afternoon setting up camp, making dinner and then playing cards, drinking Black Sambuca and eating rocky road. It was so quiet, far from coms, ipads, emails and work. I was so relaxed. I had spent a solid couple of days finishing off my studies so that even that stress had now gone. That night we settled into our tent, no sleeping bag required, tent doors open for ventilation and to let the sound of the river seep into my dreams. Within minutes I was asleep and I slept soundly.
I woke in the morning early and listened to the sounds of the dawn and the forest waking up before crawling out of our little pod and into the gorgeous morning. Breakfast was relaxed and when we set off we were in good spirits, but we had decided to see how my boots held up and if it wasn't looking good by Pierce's Pass then the boys would take a shortcut back to the car for an early exit. But shortly after starting to hike out, I became very frustrated with the flapping, as the tape and all the other paraphernalia had finally let go. Now walking on the foam inner soles we pressed on. This is the stuff that great adventures are made of I announced. Secretly hoping that all would end well and we would make it out.
The final press for the exit was a 500m ascent again up the side of the waterfall. Now walking on fibreglass soles over slippery wet rocks added another dimension to the struggle I was already experiencing. Yikes. A slow and steady climb with each footfall carefully placed. Still with 10kg on board, we made it out. Let's just say, I was totally spent. I sat later in the pub dining on a steak and veggies and feeling the muscles in my legs shudder and spasm every couple of minutes, and listened to the stories and laughs we had experienced. And the plans for the next hike.... Geez! Team give me a minute. A trip to Paddy Palin in Sydney and a brand new pair of Scarpa's. Ok, now you can bring it on!