The day has been and gone, the day that my wife, my brother-in-law, his wife and my brother's girlfriend lose any shred of sanity and go through the hell of a 100km walk. Now this walk was not just for the hell of it, but for Oxfam, the international charity helping underprivileged people and communities all around the world. So the fact that this trek to hell and back was for charity makes my close family slightly less insane but let’s just say I still have the men-in-white on speed dial.
This blog will be a retelling of my time as a support person to these stark raving mad folk as they trek though some of the toughest walking trails this side of the Sahara (ok slight exaggeration.) My day started with me going to work just like any normal Friday. My wife and her team had gone to Sydney the day before and were starting at 8:30 am. So here I was stuck at work in Canberra while my wife was about to start her walk 350 kms away at the Hawkesbury river. Shit bloke aren’t I.
This meant I spent most of my day staring at my phone, hoping to see some update on the interwebs as to how they were travelling. Needless to say I didn’t get much work done and I am glad my boss didn’t catch my constant starting at the twitter and facebook screens on my mobile. As I sat in my comfy office the team were walking through to Checkpoint one, a grade 5 trail (which is basically 1 step shy of mountain climbing) that took them to the middle of the Ku-rin-gai chase National park.
3pm rolled around and I high-tailed it out of work and hit the highway. With G.A.P and Australian Gamer podcasts to keep me entertained I hit the Hume highway and headed north. Just as I was about to stop and refill the tanks (mine not the car’s) at Macca’s I got a call from my wife stating they were at the second checkpoint, 32 km’s into the walk. She said that my brother had got there in time to see to their support needs and that they were feeling really good especially as the hardest part of the walk was now over. I was feeling like the worst husband in the world at the moment, not being there in the team’s hour of need. So I grabbed a Large Cap and a Big Mac and got back in the car.
I got to Hornsby at about 7:30pm and headed to my parent’s flat. Once there I met up with my brother and old man and got to preparing a few things I thought the walkers could use. Knowing that one checkpoint would be at about 4am in the morning and it would be bloody cold I set about making my famous Chicken and Sweet corn soup, thinking that the warm chickeny goodness would be just the ticket at that ungodly time of the morning. With the soup in the slow cooker and my brother’s Pasta salad in tow we waited out the front for the other half of our support crew to pick us up and meet the team.
At about 9pm we got picked up by my brother-in-law’s sister-in-law and her friend (not as confusing as it sounds) stopped for the requested bucket of hot chips and headed to checkpoint 3. We got there about half an hour early so we set up a nice picnic for the walkers. Chairs, rugs, food, drink all was ready for their arrival and I had all of my pep talks sorted out in my brain. A line of walkers steadily streamed by, their walking lights bobbing along towards the checkpoint and then we saw them, storming towards us. And I mean storming; things were not good for the team and with the exception of my wife the team was in a bad place (mentally not physically. Physically it was quite a nice spot!)
This is where irony hit home hard. My wife the only happy team member at the time started to vomit. By vomit I mean she was seriously wrestling the bear and to make matters worse this bear was a grizzly. This was the hardest time of the experience for me. My wife, who I had watched for the last 8 months prepare for this event had to pull out 46km in. Devastated only begins to describe how I felt. What was even worse was the fact that I knew my wife was feeling twice as bad. The only good to come out of this was the team seemed to pull together and use this setback in a positive way. The remaining three members used this as motivation and the mood seemed to change from one of anger and exhaustion to one of steely determination. From this point on there was no doubt that these three would finish the walk.
Stay tuned for Part two of my Oxfam walk round up tomorrow.