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The shower that I really needed to have

I am pretty sure that everyone knows the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, well for me the phrase should read “the shower that broke me!” or more accurately, “the shower that I didn’t get to enjoy broke the last semblance of sanity left!”

Sneezing woke me up this morning, endless sneezing.  Rather than stay in bed and wake boy-child completely (he stirred enough to lean out of bed to investigate whatever monster was lurking under the bed!) I decided to continue my sneezing alone, downstairs.  It was before 6am and still dark.  Instead of sitting alone being annoyed that I was awake and that I was sneezing, I decided to make the most of the morning and start on creating the new me – the one who is determined to regain some semblance of fit and healthy.  I pulled on a pair of trekking shoes, only because my runners were no where to be seen, and headed out for Day 1 of the C25K program.

It was cold, I was still sneezy but I felt great for getting out there.  Sure my body was protesting at the cold and my head was imagining I was anywhere else but I was proud to make that first important step to making a real change.  In fact I was so pumped by it I even posted words to that effect on Facebook, in a group that I have been lurking in for a while now…

Enough is enough. Today I really start learning how to move again, starting with the c25k challenge. To get things in to perspective – it has been so long since I have been running that I have no idea where my runners are. Instead of this stopping me, I pulled on my trekking shoes and hit the streets. My body is in a state of shock, my head is all over the shop but I have started. Happy Monday Movers 🙂

I enjoyed the quiet of the morning and the stillness of the house.  I could ignore the headache that never disappears.  I was looking forward to a great day.  School lunches made, and kids only just waking, with an hour before we were required to leave for the back to school madness.  It was the perfect time to go and have a shower.  Of course the best laid plans get thrown out the window when as I go to enter the bathroom I hear, “Oh, there may not be too much hot water left!”

Seriously.  Are you the only f*cking person in this house?  Your actions would certainly indicate so!

Instead of yelling and screaming about how freaking selfish he was.  I threw my clothes on, over a post run sweaty body and stormed off downstairs.  I was so pissed at not having that 5 minutes of luxury that I couldn’t see past it.  I got downstairs and everything just drove me nuts.

The fact that I didn’t get time to do any grocery shopping meaning that meals this week will be made from the little bits of whatever that happens to be in the fridge or freezer.  The fact that I was making dinner for tonight this morning.  The fact that today is just another crap day that can surely only get better.

Moral to the story – don’t get between me and my desire for a shower OR stop being a selfish asshat, your actions and inactions have an impact on others!

 

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Making a Come Back

So it seems that I will be making a comeback to the world of personal blogging.  I have been loitering in the world of social media, wanting to get back in there but didn’t know where to start. Now I have a starting point – I am joining in with a some awesome peeps who are all a part of a Facebook group that started off as Operation Move – a super supportive group of people encouraging each other to get out there and get moving. I haven’t been so active in the group, or in real life and my mind and body are showing the effects.

Within this group, there are a few of us who would be happy to shed a few kilos, find a healthier way to live or generally want to be accountable about their food consumption and exercise levels. Together we are all taking part in My Blackmores, an online health and wellness group and will all hopefully find a new healthier way of living, perhaps even shedding a few kilos along the way. My main goal for joining in is all of the reasons I have listed above, to get healthier, to eat better, find more energy and be more accountable about what I eat and do.

For far too long, I have been lacking in energy and motivation, have been fighting the ill-effects of whatever it is that has been ailing me. Recovery isn’t happening on its own so now it is time to actually make some real changes. So, tomorrow morning I will be starting off on a 2 week detox. I think I may have dived into the deep end but I figure that a low cal, clean eating plan for a couple of weeks will set me up for a future of better health. Wish me luck!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in all about me

 

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Day 7 2011 – Ofi Creek to Goldie River

With the changes in the schedule this year, I would be missing out on one of my favourite days of last years trek.  I love this day last year because despite being unwell, I was full of energy and in the first group to make camp for the day, that meant I was first in to the creek to relax.  The camp we stayed at last year was beautiful and I would miss being there but I was also thankful that we wouldn’t be required to start walking at 4am on the first day and doing multiple river crossings in the dark!

Day 7 this day would now be a combination of my favourite walk, the section from the beautiful Ioribaiwa to Va Ule Creek and also my least favourite walk, up Imita Ridge and the IV!  I was interested to see how I would go on such a crazy day.

We bid our farewell to Ofi Creek and the guesthouse we stayed in, knowing that it would be the last guesthouse available to us – there was no guesthouse at Goldie River waiting for us.

Goodbye 'luxurious' guesthouse!

By now all sections of the track seemed to blend into one another.  You would walk up for hours and then down for hours and repeat.  Starting from Ofi Creek, in a valley meant the day started with an up.  I preferred to walk downhill but at least getting the first section of uphill over and done with in the cool of the morning would be a great thing. I started out with the slower group and tried to keep everyone motivated as we climbed.  I still hated walking uphill but at least by now my ankle had stopped hurting every step, either it was just my new ‘normal’ or there were no more ligaments left to damage.  Either way I was thankful for the need for fewer pain meds (morning tea was only a single nurofen rather than 2 and I skipped the panadol with lunch completely!)

Walking in to Ioribaiwa was a beautiful sight.  I beautiful village with magnificent views of Imita Ridge.

Heading in to Ioribaiwa

From Ioribaiwa it was a great downhill section of track and the beginning of more than a dozen creek crossings.  We stopped briefly at Va Ule to chat to a group of trekkers who were resting there before walking further towards Imita Ridge.

Another water crossing - no chance of dry shoes!

It was as we were walking through the creek heading towards the ridge that we saw tv cameras filming – they were filming a story on the last group of trekkers we had passed in Va Ule and the group they were travelling with.  The group was made up of returned soldiers, many of whom were injured in Afghanistan, as well as family and other supporters of the RSL in a effort to help rehabilitate the injured soldiers whilst promoting the needs of the returned soldiers.  The group included the amazing Damien Tomlinson who was seriously injured in Afghanistan, losing both his legs and suffered serious upper body injury as well as Ray Palmer, the father of one of his colleagues who was killed in Afghanistan.  We spoke with Ray not long after Damien passed us and he was so inspiring that we all wanted to cheer and wish them every success on the journey ahead of them.  I am really looking forward to watching the full story on Sunday Night when it airs in a few weeks.

After the last few river crossings, it was time to start the climb up Imita Ridge, my nemesis.  Even feeling fit and healthy it was a really hard climb.  Again I had the task of keeping everyone moving and not giving up and I was glad to have something to focus on other than how difficult the walk was.

Climbing Imita

A fellow trekker was really struggling and for a while we thought that the IV on Imita would become a feature of this years trek also.  This was me last year

IV on Imita 2010

and this year in the same place with trekkers from last year and feeling so much healthier!

A healthier me in 2011

Fortunately he was ready to go after a decent rest, a serious dose of electrolytes and other magic provided by the paramedic.  Like me last year, when he regained his energy he really flew down the Golden Staircase.  Not wanting him to be trapped walking at the speed of slower trekkers, I kept pace with him for the descent and it was a bloody fast pace, we kept overtaking other trekkers!  We did stop for a photo or 2 on the way down but really didn’t stop moving until we reached our lunch destination.  After a quick break for lunch, the 2 of us were off and running again, this time with a porter to ensure we didn’t get lost heading toward Goldie River.

Before long we could hear the sound of the river in the distance and soon after the screams and squeals of other trekkers enjoying the cool of the river.  We weren’t far from camp and that kept us going at our crazy speed.  Naturally our campsite was on the other side of the river.  It was probably a good thing, who wants to cross a river first thing in the morning when it is still cold and dark?

The final crossing

It was great to make it in to camp but strange to have to set up a tent before I could sneak off for a swim.

It was hard to believe that the trek was almost over, only one more sleep and a mere hour of walking was all that remained.  I wasn’t sure that I had reached the headspace I was searching for during my journey but I was loving being back in the jungle and meeting new, wonderful, inspirational people that I can now call my friends.  I would be sad again to leave the jungle but ecstatic to say that I walked the track, this time without major medical intervention.

The other Day 7 from 2010 when we walked from Naoro to Va Ule was very different to this years experience but they were both extremely enjoyable.

 
 

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Day 6 2011 – Menari to Ofi Creek

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.

Stairs in the Jungle

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!

Stuck in the mud!

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.

Browns River

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.

The walk into Naoro

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.

Looking down at Ofi Creek

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!

 
 

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Day 5 2011 – Efogi to Menari

Knowing that we had a short walk for the day was a great feeling.  I also knew that whilst it was a short walk, it was going to be a bloody hard one.  The first section of the walk, to Brigade Hill was more like a scrabble than a walk.

Sun rise over Efogi

In places it was like climbing a ladder the path was so steep.

Slippery slope to climb

The terrain made me wonder how it was possible that any war could be fought there.  When we made it to Brigade Hill we learnt of how the Australians fought off the Japanese attack and were forced further back along the track to Menari.  It was a difficult section of track, with well fitted packs and shoes without the threat of bullets.  Again there was a reading about a soldier who fought at Brigade Hill and there was barely a dry eye left on the hill.

Safe and sound on Brigade Hill

From Brigade Hill it was downhill again on the way to Menari.  There were plans to make it to Menari for lunch however we were a little sidetracked by the swimming hole about 45 minutes walk below the village.  I had a quick swim there last year but didn’t brave going up to the waterfall and I planned to change that this year.

The Secret Waterfall

I was one of the first in the water but every time I went to get out, someone else wanted to see the waterfall so I would drag them upstream and into the waterfall.  One of the other girls was terrified but really wanted to experience the waterfall.  Together we battled our way upstream and right into the waterfall.  It was the most amazing feeling standing under the downpour of the waterfall but even better was seeing the excitement in her face.

Girls having fun!

I think this is one of my favourite and most memorable memories from the trek this year!

Eventually we dragged ourselves out of the water and wandered up to the village to spend a quiet afternoon.  We were planning another fun afternoon of activities with the kids of the village but it was school holidays and most of the village had been in Efogi with us the previous day for a religious celebration.  Instead we made our own fun.  Some played footy but I was happy to be the recipient of more peppermint massage lotion!

Massage time again!

I have to admit that I was feeling particularly nervous about the night ahead.  It was in this village last year that I started to get sick.  I had memories of midnight dashes to the long drop on the other side of the camp and really didn’t want to go there again.

A colleague checks the facilities for me!

I was hoping that my my stomach would stay somewhere in the realm of normal and my head would leave me alone so that I could sleep soundly and not do the bathroom dash again.  Just in case I strategically placed my sleeping mat closest to the guesthouse door.  Fortunately I didn’t have to make the mad dash but I was woken by others who did have to make the mad dash!

Head over here – Day 5 2010, Efogi to Menari if you do want to hear about the dramas that unfolded for me last year.

 
 

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Day 4 2011 – Diggers Camp to Efogi

Despite the cold and the snoring during the night, I must have had a great sleep because I woke with bundles of energy.  The first part of the days walk was all uphill but it wasn’t so steep that it was too painful.  There was plenty of chatting and singing as we traipsed up the hill.

My task for the day was to get a couple of the students who were struggling with the trek to be more energised.  We took it to another extreme – we went for a run.  Sure my ankle was strapped up and we were both carrying stupidly heavy backpacks but it was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and the ridge we were crossing on the way to Naduri was pretty flat and easy to manoeuvre along.

The Ridge Line - flat ground by Kokoda standards!

Besides, I had remembered from last year that we would have a rest at Naduri before meeting the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel and there was likely to be fresh bananas to munch on, or cans of coke for those wanting some fizz!

Those that had excess energy used this rest time to play footy or soccer.  I actually used the time to rest!

Footy with the Porter

At the appointed hour, whatever time that was (I have no idea really, time truly was irrelevant) we wandered down to the village to meet the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel, a man who supported the Australian soldiers during World War II, carrying much needed supplies to the troops and helping to medivac the wounded soldiers to safety.

Wandering into Naduri

Last year when we were here the Fuzzy Wuzzy was said to be 104 years old, this year he is 106.  As I mentioned earlier, time is irrelevant, as to is age.  Whatever his true age, he is old, very old, particularly when you think the life expectancy in Papua New Guinea is 61 years.

Inspirational

I hope he is around for many more years to provide inspiration to all that meet him whilst supporting his village.

After leaving Naduri it was all downhill for ages, the walk that is.  Unfortunately, any walk that goes down, must go back up.

Another bridge before beginning the climb up the other side

The walk up to Efogi was hard, even the fit guys in the group were struggling.  It didn’t help that it was stinking hot and humid making the climb even harder.  Luckily at the top of the climb there was another village with more bananas and soft drink for sale.  We sat around in the shade waiting for the rest of the group to catch up before wandering down to the village that was to be home for the night.

I loved knowing what to expect of each village and the surrounds as we arrived.  I knew that at Efogi there was a good shower but an even better swimming spot.  I decided to pass on the shower and wander back down to the river for a swim instead, as did half of the group.

Boys on the bridge

Even after spending hours walking, visiting the Fuzzy Wuzzy, swimming and lounging by the creek for hours, there was still plenty of daylight hours left.  First it was time to make use of the peppermint massage lotion that my boss insisted I carry.  It was put to great use with massage aplenty to celebrate making it to the half way point of the track.

Relaxation Time

The shorter day of walking also meant we had plenty of time to play with the kids of Efogi, or in my case take photos because the games they played were too much for my old body to cope with!  Never before have I seen games of Duck, Duck, Goos being played with so much passion or energy.  The local kids could really, really run!

Running Duck

After the games there were races and even impromptu dance classes for the kids with everyone laughing and having a great time.  Once the church bell sounded and the majority of the community wandered away to go to church, the trekkers and the porters commenced the annual touch football competition in the dirt of the village thoroughfare.  I couldn’t make out who won, but it was a fiercely fought game.

Then there was a museum to visit and the obligatory photo by the half way sign all before dinner.

Half way already

It was a seriously amazing day to mark the half way point of the trek, and looking forward to more awesome in the remaining half of the trek.  According to the sign it is only 4 hours walk to our next campsite in Menari.  Of course that is 4 hours by local time, at local speed so it would translate to 5 or 6 hours for us.  Still, another short day of walking with lots of fun to look forward to!

The same journey last year is here – Day 4 2010, Diggers to Efogi via Naduri.

 
 

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Day 2 2011 – Isurava to Templeton’s Crossing 2

That first night was a cold, cold night.  Even sleeping in full length skins, a polar fleece top and 2 pair of socks, inside my sleeping bag I was still cold.  Luckily there were heaps of us crammed into a guest house to try and stay warm and dry.  It was difficult trying to sleep snuggled between so many bodies and keep my foot elevated to try and keep the swelling at bay.  I woke about a billion times and eventually gave in and had some nurofen in the middle of the night to get some sleep in anticipation of the big day ahead of us.

Fortunately overnight the rain stopped and we woke to an amazing sunrise.

Sunrise from the guesthouse

However our clothes didn’t get a chance to dry so it was a case of taking off warm dry bed clothes and put on wet soggy hiking gear!  The paramedic strapped me up, and dosed me up before we set out for the day.

First stop was Isurava Memorial where we had a ceremony to recognise the sacrifices made by the soldiers as they fought along the Kokoda Track.

Isurava Memorial

As beautiful as it was at Isurava we didn’t stay too long knowing that we still had about 10 hours of walking ahead of us.  We stopped at Surgeons Rock to learn of the brave soldiers who passed through the area to be triaged after injury.  It was difficult to fathom how a person could drag oneself through such inhospitable jungle under constant fire and I struggled to control my emotion whilst listening to the journal passages that were read out.  To say I was more than ready to keep on walking would be an understatement.

The walk continued as did the injuries.

More injuries, but this time not mine!

I wasn’t the only person in need of the paramedic’s attention!

We made a few detours off the main track to see sights of relevance during the Kokoda campaign, one of which was a lookout held by the Japanese that was abandoned with many of the debris from war left in place.

Left over from WWII

Finally it was time to stop for lunch and for some a quick bathroom break.  One not so lucky trekker took a tumble when looking for a bathroom and landed on this pretty looking plant.

Not such a friendly plant after all!

It turns out that the plant she landed in is used by the locals as a natural ‘deep heat’.  When used correctly it has warming properties that can soothe aches and pains, when one inadvertently lands on the plant it causes huge welts and itching, again another injury that required the paramedics attention.  (By now I was feeling much better about my own injury!)

I was really hoping to get into Templeton’s before nightfall but unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case.  We walked for an hour or so by the light of our headlamps.  Luckily spirits were high and we sang and joked most of the way into camp, happy to be sharing in the great company of fellow trekkers.  Whilst it was a long and physically challenging day, emotionally it was a great day and much easier than the same walk last year.  Despite being injured, I was enjoying the trek so much more the second time around.

Day 2 2010 – Isurava to Templeton’s Crossing 2, via Isurava Memorial and Surgeons Rock.

 
 

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