The day before yesterday I was completely dejected. We were on the verge of meeting our 1000th mile and I was miserable! I felt like a little old sparrow hobbling along. Everything hurt, from the outside of my knees, to my ankles and shoulders. Then came the first stitch of the expedition, followed by stomach cramps. Great fun to be around and great running pace- you can imagine.
Finally I ground out the 22nd mile, amidst tears. The first (tears). Just fed up with the pain. Dave dealt with the moans and groans, detected a campsite, built a fire and cooked. Marvellous.
The next day dawned brighter. A little striped woodpecker drilled at an incredibly high pitch and a flock of Austral parakeets cackled in the huge dead tree above our camp. I washed in the snow-melt river.
I still had stomach-cramps during the day, but the words of a wonderful friend, Roddy, kept circling in my head, “It’s all in your mind”. It’s always good to be reminded this when you feel physically useless. The 20th mile of that day came a little easier, I lay back to creak out a few yoga moves and a trio of green-backed firecrown hummingbirds bombed over our heads.
This morning a low cloud billowed through the mountains. Then lifted to azure sky. We were in the most pristine temperate rainforest yet. Utterly mind-blowing. No people, no grazing cattle, no clearing for fire-wood or construction. Just thick, complete, ancient forest, echoing with the calls of birds, the castanet clatter of frogs and the roar of waterfalls and rivers.
We ran up and down a cobbled track reminiscent of the winding Devon lanes of my childhood. Bliss. Caterpillars filed across the roads, butterflies loop-the-looped. For 16 blissful miles it was just us and Chile’s finest unspoiled rainforest.
The 20 miles suddenly felt so much easier.