Wow. What a weekend. It started yesterday morning. Packing the car up with everything a novice Rogainer may possibly need for a night time Rogaine event. The backpacks fully loaded, we headed off. It took about an hour and a half to get to Saunders Gorge. It was an absolutely stunning location.
We pitched the tent, chowed down on some egg & cheese sandwiches, and waited until Registration time. At 3.30 we headed over to Registration. We got our map, went back to our site to plan our course.
One problem. We had absolutely no idea what the hell we were doing... LOL
4pm and we head back to the Hash House (the name for the registration/start line/food etc) for the Novice Briefing. So glad we did that as it started to make sense. Plus he gave us some tips on where the checkpoints would be within the locations noted on the map. So now we had some understanding we headed back to our tent to plan our Rogaine. We selected 7 checkpoints to try and get to (there were over 30) with a back up plan for if it took longer than expected and one for if we got through it quicker than expected.
We also chilled out and fuelled up before the start at 5.
At 5, we were off. Most of the teams were headed in the same direction, but we hung to the back as I knew I would be slower than most. The first check point was not too far away. What I did not realise that it was up a dry waterfall that we had to climb.
We finally found the checkpoint and stamped our card, then I realised we had to climb back down....
The next checkpoint was easier to access, we just had to follow the creek. We had to cross it a few times and climb through the reeds a bit, but it wasn't too bad.
From there we headed to the ruins. This was nearly the ruin of me! We had the idea of following the road to the ridge of a hill, then coming straight down to the ruins. What I did not realise was just how damn steep that hill was.
By 2/3 of the way up I was done. So we decided to cut across the hill, then follow the creek the rest of the way. The distance was further but it 'looked' easier... The first problem was getting down the damn hill. We thought the way we went up was steep! I literally had to go down about 50 metres on my butt as I was afraid I'd stumble and end up rolling down! Then when we got to the creek it was surrounded by waist high reeds that we had to plough through. At several points we were scrambling over rocks and hanging on for dear life as the path was so narrow.
It took ages to find the ruins, but when we got there, it was worth it...
By now it was nearly 7.30, so we sat down for some food and to re-assess our course. At this point we decided that we would change course and do the smaller of the 3 options we had planned out. We had to be back at the Hash House by 11pm to avoid getting penalised. It was taking longer than expected to get to each checkpoint, plus the only way out of the ruins was over these....
I was NOT looking forward to it... Especially since I had over stretched my Achilles scrambling through rocks on the way to the ruins. But over was the only way out... It took a long time. We tried to walk along and up so it wasn't as steep, but my Achilles was really giving me a lot of grief. I had to stop a couple of times for a rest, but eventually we got there - just as this amazing red moon was coming up.
So from here on in we were in the dark. Head lamps on, torches on, and we were off to find the track that would take us to the next check point. After a while we ran into the other group of novices (we had run into them several times already and actually led them to the ruins, but they left before us). This is where we discovered we had missed the checkpoint and gone too far. So, time to back track. We eventually found the checkpoint (very hard in the dark) and headed to the last one.
By now we had been walking/climbing/stumbling/scrambling/scooting for over 4 hours. I was tired, my Achilles was killing me, and I had twisted my ankle slightly (same foot as the sore Achilles). Thankfully we had a tack to follow, although it was not a very flat or smooth one, at least we knew we were going in the right direction. We got to the point where the next checkpoint was and realised we would have to climb more rocks.
I had to say no. I just could not do it. I was already limping, my thighs and butt were starting to hurt, and I just couldn't climb again. Ross agreed we could skip it so we continued down our rickety track.
After a while the track turned into a road, and we went the rest of the way back on a smooth gravel road. We still had some hills to get over, but they weren't too steep thankfully. By 10.15 - 5 hours and 15 minutes after heading off - we got back to the Hash House. I have never been so glad to get somewhere before in my life! We checked in, then headed back to the tent.
Dinner was being served at 10.30, but I was too exhausted to even contemplate going back for food. So I took some Nurofen and curled up in the tent while Ross went to eat.
In hindsight, I should have eaten. I was desperately low in salt and I really had not had too much to eat either before we started nor during the hike. About half an hour after laying down I got a massive cramp in my right thigh. Twenty minutes later, I had one in the left thigh as well. I was in absolute agony. By 1am all I wanted to do was go home. I was in tears the pain was so unbearable. I crawled out of the tent and wandered around a bit, but it did not do much to ease the pain. By 3am it had settled down enough for me to finally get some sleep.
This morning my thighs were still throbbing from the cramps, but my ankle and Achilles were remarkable pain free. Now though, I am incredibly stiff through my butt and hips. Even my arms are stiff.
I sat up and watched the sun rise through the trees.
Overall, it was a great night (pain aside). We had a lot of fun trying to navigate our way around and I got pretty good and working out what different things on the map meant. We went through so much different terrain during those 5 hours, it was hard to believer we only travelled several kms from the start point.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! But before I do I need to work on my climbing. Stairs are my friend! LOL
Here are a few more photos from the weekend. Enjoy.