Following on from my Previous Post: Hiking the Fish River Canyon: Day 0 – The Descent.

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And a slightly later start to a hiking day than usual as we tried to orientate ourselves to the hike, after the hectic travel day the day before, I was grateful for the pause. Up I got, and repacked my entire pack. Things I needed at the top, things I needed for the day in a pocket… and the rest way down in the hidden depths. This was a big pack and there were hidden depths.
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Also, a huge thank you to Forever Fresh for this amazing adventure, for being chipper and cheerful when the going got tough and making this adventure an experience of a lifetime.

And can I say on Day 1, in fact every day, my shoes and socks had a restful night and they were ready to go…
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Off course I had my #BestBalegaSocks all the way, my favourite socks… and then these trail shoes were more than a little fantastic. I had needed new shoes for ages and they were my only investment for the hike… absolutely everything else I borrowed. I was looking for comfortable, all terrain shoes… and the Salomon’s won the day. In and out of the river all day long, super quick drying and they sure went the distance. And yes, that is a small piece of velcro on the back of the heel, because I used the most amazing gaiters from AR Gaiters, throughout, but more about them later.
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We perused the map and all sorts of ambitious plans for the day with our coffee and enjoyed a fabulous breakfast from Forever Fresh, would you look at all that fruit, actual pineapple chunks, what a treat!!!

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Goodbye to our campsite and off we went…
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And welcome to the first mistake of the day: Not insisting on an early start, because you are in a desert and while it was a chilly night, once the sun gets into the canyon it is hot, hot, hot.

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It was a bit of a too little too late kind of a story…
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Is now the time that I mention that my idea of bouldering, mentioned in all the articles I read, was nothing like the bouldering that I was expecting. This was clambering over massive rocks while trying to find the easiest route and place to put your feet, all while moving forwards and balancing with the jolly pack. I was so so grateful for my super grippy shoes and to be honest I wish I had been doing a lot more strength training… It was tough, and I was actually doing way better than I thought I could, but way too slow for the group, who were torn between trying to wait for me and yet eager to press on. In fact, if I hadn’t been in canyon that I could only get out of by moving forwards for several days, I would possibly have said to the team, “Go on without me, this is impossible.”
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So let’s just enjoy this beautiful river… because my goodness it is a beautiful river…

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And the magnificent canyon… and after the rocks, a reward of vast tracts of sand. Loads and loads of soft river sand… the sand was more difficult than the rocks, until I made a magical discovery on the fourth day… the sand was a battle, a constant battle to get through. To jump from a rocky section and wade through sand was a mental leap every single time.

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But incredible beauty at every turn, unusual and resilient plants…

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In fact, weird and wonderful plants…
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And when you find a shady spot…
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It’s a lunch break…
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Shoes and socks off, rest up and feast not only on the hearty food, but the view…
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And trying to get up after lunch, instantaneous cramp. Welcome to the second mistake of the day, because it was at this moment that I remembered that I had forgotten my Rennies tablets at home (a trail runner trick, they are excellent for cramps), and not to mention that I should have practiced putting on my socks and shoes while sitting on a sandy beach for several weeks before leaving home, and it was possibly way too late for mobility classes.
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And on with the sand and rocks and rocks and sand…
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And evidence that we were not alone in the canyon…
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And my first canyon encounter…
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With this little guy…
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And this beautiful bug…
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And incredible rocks, everywhere…
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And the shadows got longer…
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And to be honest I was feeling exhausted, not so much physically, but mentally… deciding where to put your feet for every single step of the day, was just exhausting… and knowing I was slowing everyone down was mentally draining. That being said, I was surrounded by unprecedented beauty, wonderful companions, and I was thrilled that I could actually do this… step by step I was getting there. I made it into camp for golden hour…
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It was a special camp… an unusual siting in the middle of the desert…
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We had made our way to the famous Vespa, the last remaining Vespa of a group of three, from this point onwards I was going to be doing better than the Vespas.
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And if you are asking, how on earth did a Vespa get into the canyon… well there is a story and it involves students and the sixties, you can read about it here.
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Sunset on one side of the canyon…
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An extremely welcome dinner, ready in minutes, a hot chocolate and watching the moon rise from my sleeping bag. Proud of myself for finishing a difficult day… I went to sleep with a happy heart.

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Massive Life Lesson from the Canyon on Day 1… You can be extremely tired, mentally exhausted from clambering over rocks that were way bigger than anticipated and wading through miles of soft river sand that makes beach sand look like a dream, totally exhausted in fact, and yet super chuffed that you did. It’s thoroughly good kind of good feeling.
And that was Day 1 of the Fish River Canyon, done. And still smiling… Follow along for more challenges and life lessons from the canyon…

Click on the Image Below to See Photographs from Day 1 to the Vespa.

Fish River Canyon - Day 1 To the Vespa

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