Last claws of winter
The crew had told us that there was a cold spell on the way, but one never really takes notice; we were running in beautiful 29-degree spring weather, the cherry blossoms were slowly starting to open, bringing splashes of colour to the dry sandy landscape.
Along the mountainside it looked as if someone had sprayed patches of pink and white randomly along the wall and mountain slopes. An absolutely beautiful sight to behold… a definite message from Mother Nature that spring is on its way.
We were camping on the banks of a massive lake, the wall was perched high up on the mountain ridge 500 metres above us, and massive watch towers that have been standing guard over the valley for hundreds of years proudly looked down on us, giving us a sense of security.
We sat looking at the beauty all around us.
The tranquil water, majestic mountains and our little campsite nestled in its arms. There were a lot of chirps as we quietly devoured a massive bowl of pork belly, cabbage and potato stew.
Suddenly we all quietened and there was an eerie feeling; we looked at each other as the temperature began to drop and the leaves stirred in the odd gust of wind. There was a quick scurry and we decided to head for our tents.
It was not long, and the wind grew stronger and stronger. You could hear it roaring in the hills above about three minutes before the massive gusts would hit us below.
Our tents were taking a hammering.
Andy and I both crept out and re-pegged our tents, but this did not seem to help much as the wind literary bent the tents around us. Piau had not pegged his properly and it was a matter of minutes and the wind had flipped him – tent and all!
Every now and then the tent poles would smack against your head and you would lie there thinking someone had just given you a ‘klap.’ This continued through the night and just got worse and colder.
Dawn had not even broken and slowly one by one we crept out of our tents into the raging freezing wind.
We had decided that we had better pack up before the wind got too bad and breaking camp would be impossible. We managed to get everything packed, a quick cup of coffee and Andy and I hit the trail. It was too dangerous with the gusting winds on this section of wall, so we decided to drop down to a road below the wall and follow it.
Colder and colder it got, the temperatures just began to plummet, the icy winds tore through all our clothing and bit into you. There was a slight drizzle that very quickly turned to fine granular snow and then finally snowflakes as it continued to get colder.
For eight hours we continued to push on until the overnight spot, as we finally reached it, the weather really turned and down came the snow, sleet hail and rain.
Everything was thrown at us.