was going to be the real killer. We had an eight-hour
hike to undertake with the full weight of our backpacks.
The plan was to make it to the second campsite along the
trail, which was free.
outlook was good, scattered cloud and not too cold, yet
not too hot. We made our way past the hostel and up into
the mountains. The Torres form the centrepiece of the
park and the Circuit runs around them. It had snowed heavily
during the night but only up on the mountain. It hadn't
touched us in the campsite. In fact it hadn't felt that
cold, which meant that I had got a good night's sleep.
The result was that once I got going I felt fresh and
invigorated. There was a renewed spring in my step as
we trudged single file up the hill and into the forest
that climbed the edge of this mountain range.
time rolled on, the clouds began to roll in. A light snow
started to fall. This didn't bother me. In fact I quite
liked it. I almost wished it was Christmas again. Being
here in the forest as the snow gently fell made it feel
more like Christmas to me.
threw on our raincoats and continued onwards. Today
I was to learn a valuable lesson when it comes to
hiking: Don't wear boxer shorts! As you hike your
way up that mountain, they hike their way up your
arse. Most of your time is spent pulling them back
out again. Many a time Nick and Kirsten would stop
and wait for me as I waved at them from below with
one hand, and fumbled under my backpack with the
other to retrieve my boxers.
a couple of hours we decided to take a break. I
gratefully allowed my pack to fall to the ground.
As I did I noticed, to my dismay, that the bag for
my tent had come undone. I looked inside to see
that the little bag containing my tent pegs and
ropes had vanished. They must have fallen out somewhere
along the trail. But where?
they could be anywhere!' I exclaimed.
worry I can spare a few pegs,' offered Nick.
that was no good. I had to have mine. My tent wasn't the
most secure as it was, but without all the pegs and ropes
it could be disastrous in the mountains. There was no
other choice, I had to try and find them.
it would be quicker and easier without the weight of my
pack, I left it at the rest spot. Nick and Kirsten agreed
that if I hadn't returned after fifteen minutes they would
continue on without me and we'd meet up at the campsite.
We selected a tree in which to hide my pack behind and
Nick said that he would mark the spot with a stick. They
wished me luck and I marched off.
had been walking for five or so minutes when all of a
sudden that light snow that had so lifted my spirits earlier,
now turned into a blizzard of thick wet snow, engulfing
me in the process. It smothered my eyes and drenched my
jeans and feet. My waterproof trousers were in my backpack.
I stood there shivering and silently cursing the mountain
weather, as the water rapidly seeped into my boots and
formed patchy puddles under my feet.
figured as I was already soaked I might as well carry
on, so I squelched my way onwards trying my best to scan
the ground through the snow in my eyes.
was a hopeless nightmare. Although there was only one
trail, it broke off into side trails that ran parallel
for a while or formed little detours, then rejoined at
some point further along. I couldn't remember, or tell,
which ones I had taken. It all looked different from the
other way. Also I hadn't really taken a lot of notice
of the trail. I had been too busy talking or looking at
about twenty minutes I gave up. It was no good. They
could have fallen out anywhere between here and the
campsite. What were the chances of me finding them
again? I had no choice but to head back. With a bit
of luck I might bump into the Canadians, or at worst
I could book into that hostel for the night. But first
I had to retrieve my backpack. So I turned around
and started the long and weary trudge back.
snow had stopped and turned into a light drizzle. I was
cold and soaked to the skin. My nose never seemed to stop
running. I decided to try Nick's technique, which he called
the Bushman's Flick. This consisted of blocking one nasal
passage with one finger and propelling the contents of
the other with a short, sharp snort. I took a deep breath,
pressed the side of my nose and blew with all the force
I could conjure up. A large volume of stringy mucus came
hurtling out, and was blown back into my face by an uncannily
timed gust of wind. I stood there in a state of shock
as the pieces of snot hung from my nose and chin. This
was definitely not my day.