Stage 5 – The Long March

In Uncategorized on September 4, 2012 at 3:05 am

Stage 4 was actually fairly draining.  ( The next bit should have been in the last entry, but I messed up.  )  Not saying it was impossible or that it sucked all the life out of me, but the course was a lot more difficult than anything we had before.  At the end of Stage 4, after a bus ride from the construction site, after I got things situated, this is what was waiting for me.

This was about the billionth ( metric for way too many ) of these freeze-dried salty rice based meals I had eaten and at this point my body said ‘NO MORE’.  I had two bites of this ickified paste of disgustingness and I threw the rest away.   Then I ate some pepperoni slices and my body rejected any further processing of greasy meat.  At this point I could have been reasonably concerned about my prospects for the long day ahead, but all doubt was removed when this appeared:

The only thing cooler than the single rainbow, is the double rainbow.  Now, all I needed now was a unicorn to ride the next day.

After the previous four days, my shoes were looking kind of ragged,

and having the fluid drained from under my toenail daily with the hot needle was getting less and less enjoyable,

So, I got some rest to prepare for the long day.

As you can tell from the elevation chart, Stage 5 was 73 km ( slightly less than two marathons ).   The good news was that the last 30 km ( you do the math ) was downhill.

The start for Stage 5 was actually two hours away from camp.  So we woke up in dark, boarded buses, and toured the scenic western cities of China.

Please note than no one lives in any of these buildings.  All the stories you read about the ghost cities of China are completely true.

When we arrived at the start of we had a short time to get ready and enjoy the scenery.

And then we were off for a stroll though the nothingness.

Nourishment for the entire day consisted of a pack of oatmeal, some ‘Swedish Fish’, a couple hundred calories from powdered drink mix, and a couple small bags of trail mix.   ( So, here’s the thing that is hard to explain.  This really isn’t a big deal.  It would have been nice to have eaten more, but at this point you are so screwed up that it really doesn’t matter.  Your body goes through a transition where it really doesn’t care if it has food or not, because in reality I had plenty of calories in reserve around my mid-section.  Could you continue like this for another 4-5 days?  NO!  That said, a day or so isn’t going to kill you.  Probably.  Maybe.  At least that is what I told Mrs. Stockdale. )

After about 12 hours of walking, the sun went down.

And then I walk some more.  I vaguely remember finishing around 3:00 am or so.   The real men in my mind were the guys who finished last for the day.  They were both slightly injured from previous days and walked the entire thing in around 24 hours.  I’m sure each and every step was more painful than the last.

  1. Well done Mr. Stockdale, well done!

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