Monday, 11 July 2011

Making My Way Home - Part 1 of Canyon Diary

In life you lose things like teaspoons, pens, one sock even marbles. Three months ago I lost some one very close to me, he left - the warning signs were there, but I was not prepared for his complete departure from my life.

I wondered around, going through the motions of doing life. People knew I was sad, but I felt that even though I looked normal from the outside, part of my insides had been ripped out and placed in the box together with my loved one - covered in sand.

Fourteen months ago I planned this trip to hike the Fish River Canyon. My late friend laughed at my crazy habit of roaming around nature, staying in tents and using a spade to lower the toilet seat. But never the less encouraged me with words like "life is for the living" and "getting drunk outta town don't count"!

I could never had imagined that 3 months before I would leave on another life affirming trip, I would have to say such a final goodbye to such a large part of what I thought made me who I was.

So, now you understand why I have not blogged for almost a month. I have been on a trip home and I took the long road home, the road less travelled, but it's brought me back to find that I can handle loss and grief without losing the essence of who I am.

The night before we started our hike, we arrived late at Ai Ais and as a result were politely shown a spot at the entrance to the utility boma ( where everyone goes to wash their dishes and laundry). It was far to late to set up camp, so we just removed our shoes and climbed straight into our sleeping bags. While sleeping outside, on a concrete floor might seem like a hardship, it would be the most peaceful sleep I would have for the next 6 nights.

Needless to say, we were awoken the next morning by kind souls asking if we could please move so they could get past. I can truly say I have a certain amount of empathy for the homeless who are woken by shop keepers after spending the night huddled in a doorway. The biggest difference is all the high-tech sleeping gear I have and I do it by choice.

So mad rush - as per our family tradition and the final dash to the shuttle leaving on the bumpiest road in the world. It is not the potholes (which are worse in Joburg),but they grade the surface to "a washboard", it's guaranteed to shake lose any inferior dental work. 

After arriving in Hobas, going through all the paperwork and park fees, finding no maps. We were back in the bus, on our way to the drop off zone. The strange thing about the Fish River Canyon is it is not scary at all while you driving next to it - you can even see it. BUT, go to the edge and all of a sudden you see a huge hole with a tiny river below open beneath you - it's the closest you can get to "having the earth open and swallow you up".

After lining up the family for the compulsory family photo, having to hold them down long enough to actually wait for the shutter to close, we start our trip. Walking, sliding, slipping and climbing our way down the abyss that would be home for the next 6 nights and 5 days!

Half an hour into the start Captain Keith took his first fall. It was a bad one. He managed to take 4 inches of meat and skin off his shin, leaving the bone exposed, with a chip missing. Not pretty, but lucky for our group of 3, Florence Nightingale was at hand and some anitbiotic cream, a bandage and enough duct tape to make MacGyver proud we could continue.

This is the wound 2 weeks later and after 10 days of antibiotics

We completed the descent after 2 long hours and walked a further 1km to set up camp. It was still early in the day and so we had plenty time to "lick" our wounds and recover from all the day's hard climb.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

If I shall die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.


Ishay said...

Hi Rosie. I have been wondering where you were and so glad you've opened up and let us in. I can't say I understand your love for pushing yourself to the extreme, but I do respect that you and your family have a journey you take that tests your body and mind and helps you to find your centre. I know the Fish River Canyon, but have never hiked it.
So sorry for your loss Rosie. Hope you feel one hundred percent soon and looking forward to your next post.

PinkPolkaDot said...

I am so sorry to hear about your loss, Rose!

I would like to read the next parts of your Canyon Diary! Hugs to you. XXX

Cindy said...

I'm sorry Rosemary, I'm so out of the loop, I didn't know about any of this.
I look forward to sharing the next part of your journey by reading about it.
Love and light. xxx

Marisa said...

Losing someone close to you is always hard. My thoughts & prayers go out to you. I hope you're able to find some comfort over the coming months.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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