Not everyone can get up at 4am on a Sunday morning. I’ve learnt that it takes a special kind of willpower to do so, especially when the prospect is a day of aching feet and miles and miles of walking. Still the fact that I couldn’t go geocaching for so long has resulted in a sense of freedom when I now do. And the fact I can walk so far after all that has happened is a reminder of how hard I’ve had to work to get the leg back to a stage where I can do it. Like everything in life, sometimes you get knocked down. You either stay knocked down or you get up and come back stronger.
And I do feel stronger. I actually feel like I’m in the best condition since I started geocaching in 2008. But that doesn’t mean that at 4am on a Sunday I don’t feel like crap. As I did on this day, just over a week ago. I woke with a scratchy throat and was worried I had come down with this cold that is knocking everyone out around me. Still, I’d felt the same when I’d gone and done my record-breaking day near Peterborough so I just put it down to early mornings.
Our target for the day was the Kent / East Sussex border and a place called Brightling. It’s a place with a church and a couple of houses and nothing else. Except under the ground is a huge Gypsum mine. There’s very little evidence of the mine above ground except for a huge overland conveyor which looks like a massive snake working its way across the countryside.
Our caching route was 22 miles of 100 caches (plus a few extras) comprised of two equal length rings. I was joined by Westie and housemate Heff, reforming our original caching team that hasn’t been out on a big adventure for ages . So it felt good to be all out caching once again.
However, I felt off my pace from the start. I’ve always been a slow walker but I felt myself getting left behind a bit which surprised me given that my overall pace seems to have picked up. Half way round the first ring and I was a long way behind. I wanted to be up front finding caches, not dawdling behind.
By the time we got back to the car at the end of the first ring I felt awful. I thought that perhaps I was just not use to the hilly terrain but I equally thought I was coming down with something. My eyes felt heavy and I felt terrible. But I wasn’t going to let that defeat me.
We continued on and I started to dehydrate heavily. We rarely stop when we cache but I needed to stop at a pub where I downed two pints of diet coke.
The second ring was a lot hillier than the first and with hindsight we might recommend that people do this ring first as you want to get the tough bits out the way when your body is feeling fresh. It seemed to sap my strength and I started feeling pretty miserable that I was so off my pace. It felt like I’d peaked and was back where I was a couple of years ago. But if I have one thing, it’s stamina. I can keep on going, even if I have manflu for the entire 22 miles.
In many ways it’s a shame I was ill as there were some stunning views but I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy them. I’d recommend the series to anyone but might suggest they start with the second ring.