When preparations for this years trek began, we planned on following the same route as last year and stay in the same villages as last year. Of course those plans didn’t account for other trekking groups on track at the same time, travelling in the same direction and wanting to stay in many of the same villages. As a result, we changed the villages we were going to stay in for the last few days. Instead of walking from Menari to Naoro on Day 6 we would be continuing up the remaining false peaks and down the other side to Ofi Creek. Now I said in the Day 5 2011 post that I was already freaking out about the day of walking ahead of us because it was the fist day of me being sick last year and that was when we had a relatively short day of walking up only 7 of the false peaks.
With such a huge day of walking ahead of us, our wake up call was bought forward from 5am to 4am. It was still dark when we left the village by torch light. It seemed wrong to be leaving what felt like an abandoned village, it was so quiet with everyone else still sleeping. It was important to get going early, there would be large stretches of track ahead that wouldn’t be under cover and it promised to be a hot day despite the overnight rain.
Knowing that my head wasn’t in the right space to be walking alone so I made sure I surrounded myself with the more vocal and entertaining members of the group to begin the walk. In fact I moved between groups, from helping those struggling at the back to being up near the front. I didn’t mind where I was walking as long as I had someone to chat to the entire time.
The first section of the walk was a fairly steady climb and then a steep descent into a swampy area.
Thanks to all of the recent rainfall, the swampy areas were extremely swampy. In many places there were skinny logs across or through muddy patches to try an make it easier and safer to cross. That was the theory but clearly it didn’t work that way for me. I managed to slip off a log that was completely submerged in mud and you guessed it, roll my ankle, for about the 30 billionth time, making my limp rather more pronounced.
I was thankful that the log I slipped off was in a shallow (only ankle deep) muddy patch, rather than a mud hole like this one!
Isn’t it great to see just how supportive we are in helping him get out of the mud? It was much more fun finding a camera and taking photos instead! It is OK, I am sure he would have done the same thing if any of us had fallen into the mud.
We continued through the mud and slush until we made it to Browns River. The river was very full and moving quickly and was one of the more difficult river crossings we had to make. Luckily there were plenty of porters around to help us cross safely.
After the river crossing and a quick break that I should have used to my advantage to have my ankle re-strapped but didn’t, it was time to keep on moving, up all 9 of the false peaks. It was around this time last year that I started to lose my grip on reality. I knew that we were to climb 7 of the false peaks, and potentially further, but I don’t remember much about the actual climb. After about 3 or 4 of the false peaks we found some shade to have a quick rest and for me to be re-strapped because the tape had ripped through and was no longer holding my ankle in place. I was thankful for the break, it gave me a chance to re-group my thoughts and psych myself up to keep on walking.
We made it to Naoro, after the 7th false peak, the place where we stopped last year but this year we had to keep on going another 3 or 4 hours.
I was feeling good at this time but many of the others were struggling with the heat and the paramedic was working overtime to ensure everyone was hydrated and healthy. I also had an advantage that I knew what was ahead of us in the next section of the walk (done on Day 7 last year), I knew that the last 2 false peaks were the hardest but that the walk down into Ofi Creek would be one of the steepest walks but also one of the most beautiful, with somewhere to swim when we made it to camp.
Having another beautiful place to swim made the extra walk worthwhile (there was no swimming in Naoro unless you walked down the 7 peaks to Browns River – not going to happen!). What I thought was ironic was the crazy busy-ness of the campsite, there were 2 or 3 other groups camped there and it was pretty squishy. (It was the only campsite that I actually saw rats in!) We were the only group to be heading towards Owers Corner, nearing the end of our journey so it was great to be offering words of encouragement to the other trekkers.
Only one more day of real walking left – the extra walking today meant that we would have to walk a little further tomorrow to find a decent camp but that would leave us only a very short walk on the last day. I wasn’t so sure how I was feeling about not having a giant walk on the last day, I was pretty sure that the walk tomorrow would more than make up for it!
Day 6 2010 – Menari to New Naoro was a very different day to this one!