The morning after
There is a certain feeling towards rainy nights. While quiet nights are usually supposed to be peaceful and somewhat filled with a chilly beauty, rainy ones become gloomy and impenetrable. Yet, they confront you with the power of nature full on. No mercy for anyone who seeks a challenge with the gods of the weather, but that’s OK. That is why people go out there. Because if you can withstand those unfavorable conditions, find a shelter and some sleep eventually you might get rewarded for your endurance on the next morning, when the rain is slowly stopping in those special hours before sun rise. It is then, when one gets the impression that an soon-to-die night turns into an old man, who realizes that he spent all his life in rage and haste and what for? That is the moment when you can hear a certain silence the resonates in all the life out there, being finally relieved by the arrival of that long awaited turn.
You dare to take a short glimpse out of your wet prison, that protected you from worse just to check if the world is doing fine.
That is when you can see fine mist crawling up a lonely valley, while the now nearly cloudless sky is turning his color into some fine shade of purple in pleasant anticipation of the now rising sun, that will start very quickly to illuminate that place, you once called hostile, and turn it into something very beautiful.
Time to get up and ready for the next day.
A life lesson in gear quality and ignorance
Despite it’s wonderful look, that place was freaking chilly and far from being dry. So peeling yourself out of a wet shell really puts you into your next problem: Turn some damn warm cloths on or you’ll be shortly freezing to death. Well, at least that’s a good kick start into the day, to rush around barefoot in search of your hopefully still dry boots.
I put them into some waterproof bag, next to my bivy bag, but I realized that my hideout for the night was a slightly lively one, which means that I didn’t wake up at the same place where I went to sleep. The ground was kinda slippery so I must have slid down a slope a little bit or a quite substantial bit actually, which actually explains why I felt a stupid spiky stone in my back that wasn’t certainly around when I picked my place to rest.
Anyway, after I got dressed, it was time to get my other things together. I was not really in the mood to be exposed to the cold any longer, so I packed all my things up as quick as possible, till I realized that I completely forgot to take a picture of my hilarious hideout. For my excuse I can say, that my camera was still buried somewhere deep inside my backpack, due to the rain. I simply hat other sorrows than taking pictures in that moment.
The moment I got into my shoes, I felt a certain sting, something didn’t feel right. Not like aching muscles or a sprained ankle or something like that. It was more some kind of a deeper pain that made me feel that sting with every step I made.
Bloody hell! After I got my shoes and socks out I saw the mess. One foot was totally blood stained due to a big dent in the skin over my Achilles tendon. Something must have drilled a freaking hole in there. Fortunately it was not too deep to tear the tendon, but the skin was totally gone. After that I was checking my other foot which didn’t have this dent fortunately but both feet showed lots of bruises and blisters all over the place. God dammit! I wish I had my good old Lowa boots that escorted and protected me for many many hikes, may their soles rest in peace.
I cursed those freaking hired boots in many words and languages, but it didn’t help, I had to face the facts and to come up with a solution to the mess.
How could such thing happen anyway? I was checking to boots and there was no first hindsight at all what could have caused such trouble. And honestly I didn’t really come up with a proper solution.
I reckon it was due to my Shoe/Sock combination that was somewhat to warm for the conditions throughout the day. Furthermore I think there was something inside my boot, because while I was hiking I felt something in there that was permanently pushing, but after a while I simply ignored it. Additionally, the hike was long and intense, which has probably caused the other issues. So I guess I had a vicious combination of gear, I was not really used to and a fair amount of ignorance towards the well being of my body.
How I learned to stop worrying and love the boots
It was time for me to make a decision, a somewhat crucial one, indeed. I knew that I had 2 more days to go. Since my actual conditions might slow me down, it could me take another day, which would have been OK, I was prepared for that. But I had doubt if this would be fun at all. Of course I can force myself to do everything I want, but why on earth should I force myself through 3 days of pain if not totally necessary? At the moment I am not even half way through the track, I can easily go back, which was the safer and more considerate approach.
I needed some time to think. So I got my shoes on and started to walk around and take some pictures of the valley.
After thirty minutes or so, it was clear to me. I cannot walk in those boots for more than one day. Not in such conditions. Not when I have to traverse a path and face more than 50km to go. Bummer.
That was the moment when I saw my dream achievement for this holiday floating away. The Young Valley has beaten me and that hurts more than any pain in my feet.
So I decided to swallow the pill, pack my things and turn around to head the way I came, aware of everything that will lie on my way before me. Aware of the fact, that the next 9 hours will turn into more and more suffering with every step I take but I will also know more and more that it was the right decision to turn around.
When I finally arrived at Makarora, I was more than happy. My feet must have been devastating after that second day. The last 5km of the track I was hobbling rather than walking. Not to imagine if I had one or two more days to go.
Quite easily I’ve found a ride back into Wanaka. A ride that felt so bad, cause of hating myself for the defeat out there. A little later on this hate will be gone and replaced by something I’d like to call the price of stupidity. My feet were finally completely toast and I simply couldn’t walk anymore. No way, Nada, niente, keinen einzigen Meter.
So what will I take with me from this treacherous valley? First of all, if you want to push yourself that far, you need confidence in your gear. Don’t do things like that with new or unknown things, that decided over wellbeing and misery, like boots.
Secondly, it showed me, that pride is not blinding me when I have to make the right decisions, even if that means more pain than I am willing to bear. I consider this as a good thing.
Exposing yourself to nature and stripping away all our protective shells technology provides, also means that you will learn something about you. I think, Young Valley was a good teacher. He will see me again at the next class reunion.