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Atacama Crossing 2013 Blogs
Back from the desert!!
13-Mar-2013 04:30:43 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

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.

Babs x

Stage 5
08-Mar-2013 03:38:09 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

Hi all,

Thanks for all the well wishes, especially for my feet. They actually aren't too bad, and Megan's comment may have given some of you the wrong impression about my toes... I haven't actaually lost any toe nails, just the polish!! Still have a few good blisters, but no pain I wouldn't have been able to push though. What actually stopped me was being quite sick and not being able to eat for a few days, not ideal for an endurance event!! Particularly disapointing considering my body was coping really well other than that. Our training definitely had us prepared, it was unfortunately just illness that stopped me this time.

Over to Babs with her update from Stage 5!! Pip xx

I finished at 5.30 this morning with great difficulty, and very sore feet. I'm looking forward to the finish line tomorrow. I'm enjoying a cool overcast day today, if only it could have been like this in the previous days. The scenery was beautiful, it was hot, my little team kept each other going.

I'm overwhelmed and exhausted, will update more later.
An update...
06-Mar-2013 03:13:25 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

A bit of bad news today, I (Pip) haven't been able to go on after about halfway through Stage 4. Pretty gutted. Will fill you in when I get home, but no sympathy please!!!

As I write, Babs is still going strong finishing the last of a hard slog of Stage 4, she's amazing!!! And she's really appreciating all your feedback and encouragement, we really can't thank you enough!! This morning was tough again (no surprise there!). We started the day like the end of yesterday, up and down sand dunes.... They finally evened out to a bit flater country which was just like walking on slate and rock, pretty tough on sore feet!

After that first 10km, we had 10km of flat country, which would have been a lovely relief except for the lack of shade (completely, no trees at all, and a few little plants on the ground that looked like catheads, not much vegetation at all!), and the fact that we were walking almost entirely through sand.... We did plenty of walking at home to train, but I still can't think of where I would find terrain this tough!

It was around there that the medics picked me up (no major dramas, I just pulled the pin!) so I'll have to get the deatils of the rest of the day from Babs to fill you in later. I know she was about to enter a 14km stretch of salt flat with no shade or water, so had a heavier pack than normal with extra water. It was looking even tougher than his morning, so I'm looking forward to her getting back into camp so I can hear about the second part of today's course, bathe her feet and tuck her into bed! (As always, this won't be nearly as luxurious as it sounds...)

We have a great campsite tonight, with a row of tents in a line looking out over a beautiful salt lake, which is starting to reflect the Andes which as ever, are overlooking us. We do have our own camera here so I'll be sure to take photos to add to the story the photos on the website tell.

I'll travel with the group for the last 2 stages so will be Babs' on the ground support, but I know all your comments mean the world and keep her going too.

I'll update again tomorrow!

Pip (and Babs) xxx
what a day
05-Mar-2013 02:50:21 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

unfortunately our hopes for a shorter day didn't eventuate.. we;ve arrived late again tonight after another TOUGH day... Only 40km today (only?!), but it was hard. Especially the last 5km, very tough to have camp in and out of site as we climbed sand dunes, just to go down them to fin d we had to climb another, and another, and another!!

this morning greeted us with 20km of salt flats, which are not flat, but rough and you sink into them. Then 20km of sand. The salt flats are hard so they make sore feet scream, and the sand is hard, hot work on tired legs, tough choice!!

by the time we do 5km tomorrow, we will have officially wallked half the kms. by the time we wake up in the morning, we will have less sleeps in the desert to go than we've already had. We are having a great experience here, but we're also looking very forward to getting home and telling you about it instead!!

thank you SOOOOOOO much to those of you who have been leaving posts on the blog. It really is the highlight of our day and is the only reason i have enough energy to write an update each night. We would love to respond to each of you individually, but to be honest we're just too tired and have to prioritise a 'bath' (stripping off behind the tent for a quick qipe down with a wet one. it does nothing to get rid of all the dust, sand and sunscreen, but better than nothing!!)

Can't wait to get home and tell you in person about our trip, and how much your thought, wishes and comments mean to us. Thank you so, so much!!

promise to update again tomorrow when we're on the downhill run.

P&B xxxxx
Almost 12 hours of walking to get 44km, definitely
04-Mar-2013 03:09:44 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

Almost 12 hours of walking to get 44km, definitely not what we were hoping for!! Of four stages, we crossd rivers, walked in rivers, climbde a 2,700 foot mountain, ran/slid/rolled down a sand dune, and then walked a very long way across a very big, very flat paddock, with no trees. There was one tunnel, so we sat down in it until we got worried we'd run out of water so kept going to the next checkpoint!

We've now definitely go blisters, I (Pip) need my ankles strapped because they're on the verge of rolling after all the rocks I've been treading on, on the flat and in the kilometres of river we've waded through! We've got another 40km+ to go tomorrow, it's 8pm already, we're still covered in dirt, dust and sunscreen, and are yet to organise our tents or dinner!!

Thanks to you all for your comments, they make the WORLD of differnece to us!! SO nice to know we have so many of you behind us, definitely the favourite part of the day is reading blog posts. Today I've done it with a cold foot bath under the table (not pleasent as sun has set and there's a huge wind..) still in my filthy clothes and just before I hobble over to the med tent.... Let's hope they can make our feet speedier for tomorrow!!

Thanks so much for reading xxxx

(PS - Benji and Daddy, where's the love??? We're missing you xx)

35 down, 215 to go!!
03-Mar-2013 04:21:38 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

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

02-Mar-2013 02:34:20 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

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

Thank you
01-Mar-2013 05:44:28 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

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).
Bring it on!!!!
01-Mar-2013 05:23:07 AM [(GMT+10:00) Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney]

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.
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