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For all our loyal followers, this will be our last post for Atacama 2013. I thought I had done this on Saturday after we finished the race, but my effort seems to have disappeared without trace into the ether. Thank you again to all those who followed and blogged us with such enthusiasm - you have no idea how much Pip and I looked forward to reading your comments at the end of each day.
Day 6 was very much a day of rest, spent recovering from Day 5! However, by the morning of Day 7 we were all very keen to get going again. Day 7 really was a "walk in the park". Only 8.5 km on flat terrain, walked in a very leisurely fashion, chatting and laughing all the way.
Pip decided to wait at the finish line for me, rather than walk into San Pedro, and it was absolutely wonderful to have her there for what was a very emotional finish (I didn't cry at all!!). I felt SO proud of her. Despite her extreme disappointment at not being able to finish, she was so happy for those of us who did. Her dignity and grace in such a difficult situation were an inspiration to us all.
Also there, were Jill and Roger, two Aussies Pip and I had met at the Calama Airport when we first arrived. They had put their own travel plans on hold to meet us, and were there with their cameras, snapping all the Australian competitors as they came over the line. They very kindly downloaded all their photos onto a CD for us, and we are looking forward to having an opportunity to go through them.
We have arrived home today, after spending 24 hours in Santiago enjoying the local food, shopping at the markets, and catching up with Yao and Olle Chen, who were two of our very special Tent 5 family.
I feel as though I have been away far longer than two and half weeks - so much has happened. Atacama really has been an amazing experience in so many ways - physically, mentally and emotionally. And then there are all the amazing people we met. I have come away with my faith in humanity restored.
We’ve done Stage 1!! 35km today in 7 hours, which we were both pretty happy with considering the altitude, hills and heat; it was 40 degrees +... It was very nice to arrive at camp and put our feet up and have a foot bath (more basic than it sounds, but still pretty indulgent!) Also good to check in with the medics (already!) to work out how to manage some blisters that haven’t quite arrived yet, but look like they might… It’s a bit rockier than we’re used to and our feet are letting us know….
Babs is raving about the ‘wow factor’ of the views. We were greeted by magnificent views of the snow-capped Andes when we came over the last crest and into camp, which was just as spectacular as having them frame our walk for much of the day.
As we’re towards the tail of the field, we were also treated to some pretty great sights of the mob in front of us snaking across desert flats and valleys.
Good to have a day and a night under our belts, and looking forward to Stage 2! Apparently we have a few creek crossings to content with, again, we’ll let you know how we go.
Thanks for reading,
Pip and Babs. xxx
We’ve made it to Camp 1!! Haven’t walked anywhere yet, but we’re here and ready to go tomorrow morning… Today we have packed and repacked our backpacks a hundred times, and I’m sure we will again before we start walking in the morning… We firstly had to try to fit in everything we wanted to take, then take it all out again to have our mandatory items checked twice, once by logistic staff, and again by medical staff. I (Pip) then repacked to try to get the weight down. Somehow I ended up with 12kgs!!! Babs cleverly ended up with 9.5kg, not sure how…. Anyway, at camp and under the expert guidance of some more seasoned trekkers, I’ve culled a few non essentials which will hopefully make tomorrow easier.
To write this, I’m sitting in a ‘tent’ (really a big piece of calico on some sticks) with music blaring from someone’s portable speaker and the most amazing view. Camp is behind us with tents and tables and chairs, but in front is a spectacular Chilean landscape – mountains, cliffs and rocks… Exciting to think about starting to walk through it tomorrow but also a bit daunting!! We’ll let you know how we go….
We are sharing a tent with 8 men, who are all great. Ironically, there is a father-son team from Taiwan who seem to have a lot in common with us… It’ll be great getting to know all of them and hear their stories over the next few days. Although I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of them during the day, they look pretty quick….
We’ll let you know tomorrow how our first day of walking went, thanks for reading!! xxxxx
When I was writing my last post, I had not accessed the blog for a couple of weeks (much to Pip's disgust!!) However, I am now sitting here in tears having read all the birthday messages - thank you everyone. We have had a great day starting at 3.30 am with chats to Steve and Georgie, while waiting for a bus to take us the geysers up near the Bolivian border. In true Aussie style, Pip and I were rather underprepared for the -1 degree temperature!! However, we soon warmed up in the thermal pool. It was the funniest sight - the people in the pool in their swimmers and those on the edge dressed in down jackets and beanies!! Next stop was a small village where we ate llama on a skewer, and watched the llama farmer mustering his llamas on his push bike, closely followed by two dogs!! We are planning to eat tonight at a restaurant with great reviews that Pip has found. Thank heavens Pip is here - it wouldn't be half as much fun without her. We're hoping to update our blog at the end of Day 1 (Sunday).
I am wondering where to start - there is so much to say. We arrived on Monday night, very pleased to be in San Pedro de Atacama after a 24 hour trip and one of my suitcases going missing for a while. However, we have since had a lovely time exploring the town and surrounding area. I have found the altitude a bit of a challenge, though seem to have come good now. Pip has adapted much more easily, though we are both struggling with the time difference - nothing a few sleeping pills won't fix!! We have spent part of each day fine tuning our backpacks, and have finally pared down, repacked and culled for the last time. Just in time for the briefing tomorrow morning, followed by an equipment check, and travelling out to the starting point in readiness for the official start on Sunday morning! We are starting to meet some of the people we will be racing with and it is very refreshing to find there are people just like us, who are here to walk and enjoy. Thank you to everyone who has helped us and supported us to this point. Pip and I are overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and family, and feel very proud to be part of the small contingent flying the Aussie flag.