March 20th 2017
roadside camping – riverside camping
Total distance: 1561.8 miles
The heat last night was insane, even the strong winds did nothing to cool the air. It was like someone had a blow heater on me. I felt really congested, I think I have some kind intolerance to some of the grasses, and I was struggling to breathe through my nose. As I was falling asleep I would wake myself up with a little snort and a feeling of not being able to get enough air. I was so dehydrated I felt terrible, I only had about 300ml of water left so I sipped it slowly on the times I woke up in the night, which made me need to wee at 5am – getting up was no trouble because of the heat.
Colin is a really light sleeper and I was worried that my noises would keep him awake, but when I asked him in the morning he said he hadn’t heard any snoring and it was mostly the wind flapping his tent about that kept him awake. Phew. We set off all together around 7:45am, I walked with Marcus for a while and he was asking me lots of questions, I could see him making mental notes of what I was saying and I thought to myself ‘when did I become the person a 20 year old looks to for life advice?!’
We stopped briefly to get water and have a snack and use the pit toilet, but most of the morning was an easy walk along the Alps to Ocean bike track. It was a really nice walk around Lake Ohau. It had been hot all morning and now the wind was beginning to pick up, blowing towards us unfortunately making it hard work in some places. Lake Ohau was so choppy it looked like the sea, with waves rolling in to the shore and the spray being carried over to us by the wind. We joined a paved road for a short time before turning off away from the lake to join a track and begin a climb.
Before the climb we stopped for lunch and ended up taking about an hour. We had been moving at a decent pace but the last three days of flat walking has taken its toll on our bodies. I was looking forward to the climb as it meant I would use some different muscles, but also dreading it because it would be hard for the body. We tried to find a spot out of the wind but we weren’t too successful with that and we were surrounded by sandflies and the most gigantic bees I have ever seen. We discovered that picnic (English), pique-nique (French) and picknick (German) are all the same thing. Pretty sure that makes me trilingual!
We moved on to begin the climb and it was like someone had switched off the wind and turned up the sun. The heat was intense. Thankfully we did half of the climb through the forest which provided some nice shade. I guzzled some water from the creek in preparation for the heat, and just when we thought the sand flies were starting to disappear we were surrounded by them and I got about 15 bites within a minute.
I like being at the back on the climbs as the others are all faster than me and that way I don’t feel under pressure. The theme of the afternoon was rocks. Rocks everywhere. It’s not easy to walk on rocks and requires lots of concentration. We got thrown back into the sun for the second half of the climb and battled our way through the tussock and boggy bits. I was going so slowly, I just don’t have the energy anymore. The others were off ahead and all I could do was plod on. I slipped, the dry dead bits of tussock are like walking on ice they are so slippery, and I bashed my knee on a rock which was unpleasant. The wind was really picking up and whipping across the exposed land. I didn’t expect them to be waiting for me when I reached the top but they were, which was nice.
We headed down through more slippery tussock and the Spanish needle grass made another appearance. It hurts so much when it spikes you in the legs. On this side the wind had intensified and we had to brace ourselves against it several times so we weren’t blown down the hill. We had to cross a few streams and the very last one was impossible to cross without getting wet feet. We were trying to find somewhere to camp out of the wind but by about 6:30 we had all had enough for the day. I was physically tired (a permanent state) but I was also mentally tired, everywhere you put your feet was a gamble, the rocks could be unstable, the tussock could be slippery, the ground could have hidden holes, there could be hidden bog, you could be stabbed by the grass. It’s really exhausting!
We found some flattish ground, and some other people were already camped there so we decided to call it a night. We pitched our tents with no problems and I ate dinner with just a few gusts of wind, but later on around 9pm the wind got a lot stronger and it is battering the tent. It may be a long night.
I’ve also got a bit of chafe on my thigh recently, which is odd considering my shorts have never given me any problems before, but irritations can spring up any time.
I’m walking thousands of miles for Just A Drop because everyone should have access to clean water. Please donate here, every little bit helps.