So I’m back in Queenstown after finishing the Milford Track. It’s probably fair to say I’m still feeling broken- emotionally as well as physically.
How was it? To be honest, I haven’t fully processed it. It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Day 3 was quite probably the single hardest day of my life. I truly didn’t think I’d make it up that pass- and had begun to wonder whether I’d make it down. Climbing the pass was physically exhausting, and coming back down again – on a much steeper gradient – completely did my head in. The path for much of the way down was the emergency path – the normal one having been taken out by an avalanche (in fact we heard the boom of an avalanche across the valley as we clambered down). To call it a path was being kind. For around 3 hours we picked our way down rocks – some taller than I could bend my knees for; down steep and narrow waterfalls – with the water running over it; climbing over the occasional fallen tree; and sloshing shin-deep in cold, running water.
I was on track for 10 hours that day- to cover just 9 miles in driving, persistent rain. Obviously my preparation was (more than) a tad off. When I staggered into lodge that evening I literally had nothing left. Nothing. My friend came out to meet me and I just sobbed and sobbed. I couldn’t do anything else – the relief of making it back in one piece was so great. I think there were a few of us that cried that evening.
The following day though, I pulled on my still wet boots and my still wet layers and tramped another 21kms to come out at Sandfly Point and the end of the track. Yep, a half marathon. There was no other way of getting out.
The reward was sunshine at Milford Sound after almost 4 days of constant rain. And a bath…the best bath I’ve had in my entire life. Oh, and a post-tramp celebration here, in this bar, with this view.
As I write this, my hands are still swollen from sandfly bites, and the nails on both big toes are about to fall off (too much information?) as are another 2 toenails and a finger-nail (don’t ask). Let’s just say that this summer will be most unattractive from a foot point of view. My ankles and fingers are seriously puffy and, in other news, I can finally walk normally without having to grip something for support – man, my muscles were stiff. My appetite is also finally coming back. I was so anxious and exhausted that I wasn’t able to stomach much on track and existed largely on barley sugars for energy. It was something that exacerbated the exhaustion, but, even though the food was plentiful and good, I wasn’t able to swallow without feeling ill.
Would I do it again? No. Do I wish that I’d prepared more diligently? Yep. Am I proud of myself for achieving something I didn’t think I could at my age and condition? Absaflippinglutely.
I haven’t yet uploaded my photos from my SLR camera, but have posted some pics from my phone (mostly from out and about in Queenstown) on instagram. It’s been an epic 10 days. I’ll write much more about it when I get home, so keep an eye out for that. I have so much to tell you about – and to show you.
For now it’s been a great weekend in Queenstown with hubby – who came over to meet me at the finish…and yes, I cried when I saw him too. I’m ready to go home and see Sarah and Kali (Adventure Spaniel), take my fitbit off for a few weeks, and allow my body to recover. Oh, and if I ever talk about doing something like this again, remind me that I said never ever again. Ok? Promise?