These are the words that I wrote originally. They are the result of just the first 5km of today’s route.
Cold. Burning, aching cold. Miles of the same painful sensation in my feet. Legs attached to blocks of ice.
Shock. The bridge looked solid, felt solid, but was not solid. Panic. Dive forward. Assume the position of a beached whale and pull the lower body out. Panic, annoyance, anger! My camera just got submerged. ‘Your own fault you idiot! Should have put it in the waterproof bag’
Resentment. Why does the trail provide little respite from the endless marshland. It is enough to destroy one’s love for running, walking or a country.
Tiredness. The night was cold. Coldest so far. I couldn’t get warm till the sun rose this morning.
Shame. Do I have the right to complain? Am I just complaining all the time? With choice comes the responsibility of seeing things through. Time to have a quick sleep atop a hill.
This is how is should read…
Today started late. The night was cold, a result of a cloudy day followed by clear night skies, and I struggled to sleep. I waited for the sun to rise and the wind to dry the condensation from my tent. I sorted my cut and checked a new nick to the ball of my opposite foot. Must have cut it on a small piece of glass yesterday.
I get out of my sleeping bag, pack my backpack, take down and pack my tent and then start. It was cold this morning, especially in the woods that I was descending through.
Then I hit the inevitable… Marshland that stretched for what I knew was at least 5km. I stepped into the dark water and notice the butting cold. My feet start to burn from it. With gritted teeth and carry on, heading to another wooded area and the hope of respite.
Respite isn’t to be had. The marsh extends into the woods and soon there is a deep river to cross. No more than 4′ wide but with a boggy take off and an uncertain landing I wasn’t going to jump. I walk to the planks that are present as a bridge. One tentative step and all is well. A second step…
A sigh of relief as I stay above the water. Then slowly… Like a warm knife into butter, I sink. I do my best to step to the other side and all I can do is to bend forwards and use my upper half and arms to stop myself going fully into the water. The water is cold. The cold bites into my legs and I pull myself out. I grab for my camera that was in my leggings pocket, swear words filling the air as I do so.
There’s noting I can do. The camera is soaked and I’m in the middle of a marsh with no dry place to set anything down. I beat my way forwards, stumbling in and out of deep boggy sections, catching my pack on the ever closing trees and my anger rises. Eventually, I can stop on dry ground and I do. The frustration is unbearable. My camera is my way of recording what I see. It is something I am rarely without. It is now unusable for at least a few days and I’m on the search for rice or any dried grains I can use to hopefully save it. I hope I can save it.
Progress was slow, and it didn’t improve much. Then I reach the first substantial peak and there, next to a cairn is a picnic bench. I am still wet and cold. I am tired. I get behind the cairn, out of the wind, and I go to sleep.
I wake and eat some peanuts, then sit in the sun, out of the wind and warm myself up. The trail improved dramatically and I could run, but only once the door I ate got into my system. The tiredness came and went, rivers were crossed and atop another of the many peaks in today’s route, lay down and rested for a while. The warmth of the sun was wanderful.
My plan was to reach a private hut, but I’ve stopped 5km short, on top of a peak, over looking an incredible view. I watched the sun pretend to set, and now lie ready to sleep. I wander when the sun will actually set and the skies become dark again?