I woke up cold which was a little
disappointing as my North Face bag was rated at 40 below and I was
inside a building. Something else was not right. Through the early
morning grogginess I zoned in on my left foot, it felt locked in
position, stiff. I unzipped my bad and with my headtorch looked down on
a disaster, not frostbite, my foot had just swollen up. I stood up and
put some weight on it and winced. My head was instantly filled with
scenarios. How had this happened, when I went to sleep I was feeling
great, no niggles, nothing wrong, feeling strong and looking forward to
getting to Puntilla that day and then over Rainy Pass the next. But at
that moment I couldn't even walk. I sat there gathering my thoughts and
pondered my options. Clearly I wasn't going anywhere soon so I made my
way back to the kitchen where it would at least be clean and warm. I
couldn't get my shoe on so hopped over with a shoe on my good foot and a
NEO on the other. I sat down, drank coffee and generally felt miserable.
It wasn't supposed to end like this.
As the morning dragged on I popped Ibruprofen to no avail and drank
coffee until I could drink no more. Andy and Eric left for Puntilla as
did others. This was so unfair, especially after the GDR in 2005, this
was turning into a bit of a losing streak. I waited and was joined by
two other crippled racers. Rajko Podgornik from Slovenia and Alicia. We
were a sorry sight. As the day wore on and my foot refused to improve I
began to resign myself to admitting this was the end.
Well, not to dwell on failure too much, the three of us flew out of
Finger Lake the next day when a couple of planes had flown some tourists
in, at least it was relatively cheap to get back to Anchorage. So, a
very disappointing finish and I never really found out what was wrong
with my foot which did take several weeks to return to normal. One thing
I did learn though was that foot travel was just a great way to travel
and I made a mental note that one day I would walk to McGrath.