Monday, 1 August 2011

Day 59: Forster to Sandbar

After meeting Richard and Kerri-anne at Forster's Main Beach we set off to meet up with the fourth member of our party, Rob, before continuing on with the day's walk. Richard, Rob and Kerri-Anne are members of a Forster adventure racing team who take part in 24hr and 4day races involving running, swimming, paddling and bike riding through spectacular rugged landscapes. I met the team in Forster while riding out the bad weather and they were kind enough to allow me to join them on their Saturday training session. Well I should more accurately say they were kind enough to give up a good part of their training session to help me get as far down the track as possible.

Kerri-anne, Rob and Richard making their way towards the rainbow arch
Once again today was one of those tough days where you just have to put your head down, grit your teeth and just keeping going. My pace started out well enough but as I strode along the third beach things really slowed as my shoulders began to hurt under the weight of a very full pack. I've always tried to set the pack up correctly to carry the load as near to my centre of gravity as possible while also distributing the weight around the hips where stronger muscles can take most of the load. Unfortunatley with the large weight I'm carrying there is little that can be done to distribute the weight in a way that minimizes strain. When the weight is placed on my hips the large load actually disrupts the natural movement of my hips and legs. This creates strain and pressure on my hip flexors and groin. After longer distances the side effects then become noticed in the knees and feet. To alleviate the pain I release the hip straps and the weight of the bag immediatley falls onto my shoulders. The reprieve is most wellcome and my stride returns to normal. But it doesn't take long before the shoulders begin to scream out. To share the pain and strain I alternate between carrying the load on my hips and shoulders giving each muscle group a chance to recover but eventually the cycles become shorter and my mental strength to push on shows signs of cracking under the pressure. After 2hrs I had to have a break. To signal the break I used the excuse of stopping to take a photo but there was no fooling Rob who could clearly see that I was begining to struggle and that a rest was on the cards. After a short break it was back to work.

A tough day at the office
Rob, who had by this time taken it upon himself to be my support in stride, had previously pointed out a stand of Norfolk pines that marked the three quarter length of the beach. The huge pines made the distance seem apparently attainable within only a short time frame but that was very wishful thinking on my behalf. Continuing on trying not to show too many signs of weakness I couldn't help but ask myself if I was ever going to get to the pines. But time ticks by and so do the steps until eventually we made it to the end of the beach.

Very hazy view south towards Boomerang Beach
After a bite to eat, together we traced around the south eastern shore of Wallis Lake and then did a misty moutain hop over a couple of hills at the back of Boomerang and Bluey's beaches. At one stage as we crossed a saddle Kerri asked if this was the hardest walk I'd completed to date. Although the walk from South west rocks to Hat Head was the longest, this was by far proving to be the most strenuous of legs. I reflected on that question later this evening and wondered if I would have been able to complete this Forster leg without the wonderful support of Rob, Kerri-anne and Richard. After several hours and I think 27km the group and I arrived at Sandbar caravan park. After bidding farewell to my amazing support crew I made plans to set up camp for the night. It was great to have some company that enjoys being active, respecting, appreciating and making the most of the remarkable natural environment that surrounds us.

Misty Mountain Hop 1
Misty Mountain Hop 2

So as the nightshades begin to fall I turn towards, may I say, I well earned sleep. I have thoroughly enjoyed the walk today and especially the company that I shared along the way.

Tomorrow I shall be the crossing of the sand bar.

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