Challenges and toenails on the Heysen Trail.

Ok, so technically, it didn't go wrong while on holiday - so it doesn't get in my 'things go wrong on holiday' list - but damn, it's a negative.

 Fresh start on day one. Full of smiles. 

Fresh start on day one. Full of smiles. 

Dad wanted a challenge. He wanted to hike the Heysen Trail from Cape Jervis to Victor Harbor, normally a four-day hike, in two days. Just over 70km. 

I've never done more than 22km a day - and even that was a chore. Tired legs, same scenery and other hikers not enjoying themselves became a real mental struggle. I think I fell asleep while doing a beach meditation that day. While sitting up. That was on the Great Ocean Walk when we combined 100km into five days. 

Now I'm challenged to walking 35km a day, two days in a row. Over rough cliff coastline and hills that look like a Giants green bum sticking up in the air. A whole family of giants. I say yes, but never get too excited about it. In fact, I never even looked at a map of where we would be hiking until the day prior. That is VERY MUCH not like me to not plan and organise details. 

 A good bit of the track, seems like a stroll, with views to KI and the southern ocean.

A good bit of the track, seems like a stroll, with views to KI and the southern ocean.

We set off early on Saturday morning and starting walking just before sunrise from the Sealink terminal at Cape Jervis. I'm jovial, nearly skipping along, commenting on how wonderful it is to be out in nature. But in the back of my mind, I worried about what I'd be saying 12 hours from now. 

 One of the many stiles we crossed. By end of day two, it was a mission to step up and pull the leg over.

One of the many stiles we crossed. By end of day two, it was a mission to step up and pull the leg over.

The hike started nice and easy, until Cobbler Hill in Deep Creek Conservation Park. I think we both let a few expletives go, but that was nothing compared to what lay ahead of us in the next 36 hours. 

It wasn't until Tunkalilla Beach that I found the terrain easier to handle. Two bung knees that shot daggers out whenever there was a slight decent, one ankle that was screaming at me to stop squashing it walking on the side of the hill and two big toes that I kept knocking on rocks while looking at what I could take photos of. (Note to self: stop and look, don't continue to walk while looking around.)

 Finally! Some track not on a hillside. Instant relief for my ankle. Downhill - instant scream from my knees. 

Finally! Some track not on a hillside. Instant relief for my ankle. Downhill - instant scream from my knees. 

The first day saw me nearly crying while letting out yelps of pain while descending valleys. I cautiously stepped one foot in front of another on  a cliff while seeing the sharp rocks and swell of ocean on the peripheral straight below the trail. Dad and I exchanged utter disappointment and exhausted awe when we rounded the corner and found he had told our support people to park in a carpark that was the steepest incline we'd had yet. And this was at 6 pm. We trudged up, I fell into the car, ate some chicken, the granny-hopped down the hill again to set up our tent and sleeping bags by the beach. 

I was set for a night of sleep that consisted of passing out from tiredness. But, setting up in the dark, meant we didn't realise we were on a slope. We both kept bracing ourself, so we didn't roll downhill. And, I had packed the wrong pillow - a u-pillow that was seriously more uncomfortable than clothes rolled up in a pillow case (which I normally do). But because I had accidentally left my thermals in the car heading back to Victor Harbor, I had to sleep in my clothes and had no left overs for a pillow. Yes, gross, I know. The first thing I did when we got back to Victor Harbor was shower - and then I felt half human again. 

 See the road behind the house on the hilltops? That's where our dinner and tent were waiting. Not the most fun to realise after hiking 11 hours. 

See the road behind the house on the hilltops? That's where our dinner and tent were waiting. Not the most fun to realise after hiking 11 hours. 

 Start of day two... just some ultra soft sand for a few kilometres. 

Start of day two... just some ultra soft sand for a few kilometres. 

Day two, my body surprised myself by not being too sore. I could actually stand. We started with a few kilometres of soft beach sand, then climbed, with the assistance of the fence, a nearly vertical hill. We had the warning from a seasoned hiker this was worse than Cobblers Hill, Tunkalilla Beach. And yep, let your backpack pull you back, and you would tumble down to serious injury. The trail then eased, and we powered through most of the day. Lunch at Waitpinga beach was quick; any stop made my legs stiffen up like wood. Then we powered on. By mid-afternoon, I mention I should tighten my ankles of the boots up - my ankle felt strained and weak. In hindsight, it probably would have helped to do them up tighter from the start. Maybe my feet wouldn't have slipped forward as much, denting my toes. As the afternoon sun lowered, I felt myself tripping over more and more rocks. Screaming at one stage, I thought I'd broke it open. I didn't bother looking, though - what could I have done?

 After the Tunkalilla beach soft sand, just a little hill to climb. I had to use the fence to stop me falling over backwards. 

After the Tunkalilla beach soft sand, just a little hill to climb. I had to use the fence to stop me falling over backwards. 

By the time we hit the bluff, I was out of mental puff. I wanted to be the leisurely walkers out strolling with their dogs. I wanted to sit down - but didn't dare. I wanted a shower. I wanted my boots off. I wanted to be there. Dad wanted to walk down to my mum's house in Encounter Bay, but one step, another shriek, and we hobbled back up to a carpark to wait. My knees couldn't take it, and the pain daggers came fiercely. 

The shower made me feel half human while the nanny walk kept me appreciative of what I'd put my body through in the last two days. I warned my dad not to ring in the morning, because if I couldn't walk, I'd swear. The Funny thing was, he didn't call. He rang hubby and my mum to check in on me. I did end up calling him, though - I could walk. And he didn't cop an ear bashing.

But, that wasn't the end of it. Thinking I'd bruised my toes and toenails, I thought the pain would subside over the next few days. No. The nails turned lots of different shades of blue and purple, to the current state of purple-blue with smudges of black. Surfing a few days ago didn't help either - bashing my toes on rocks just made the colour come out thick and fast. 

Would I do it again? No. Never. Dad said he wouldn't either. Hats off to his workmates that did it in 23 hours. Fark.
Am I glad I did it? Yes. It is a challenge I can say I achieved. I am fit enough. I am strong enough. Mentally and physically. And I love the time with my Dad. Sometimes chatting, sometimes walking in silence. 

How 'out bush' do you go?

 And another beach. Waitpinga. I love beach walking - especially when it's harder sand. 

And another beach. Waitpinga. I love beach walking - especially when it's harder sand. 

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