Oh man, everything hurts! This section of the expedition was a killer. My back is sore, my hips are stiff and my arms are aching. The skin on my hands has worn to sores and my legs are covered in bruises and scratches because, no matter how hard I try, I am incapable of getting in and out of the kayak without injuring myself!
But worse than physical tiredness is mental. Long days kayaking followed by long evenings sorting logistics, doing interviews and keeping up with social media. All on top of what has been the biggest challenge of all for me…being in a team.
Some really tough few days
At the beginning of leg 2 we welcomed 4 new members to the team and threw them right in the deep end with one of the toughest days on the expedition. We had 23 locks to navigate in one day. The hardest part of portaging is actually getting the boats in and out of the water because they are so heavy. Quite often the locks are back to back, meaning we could lump them together. But not on this day.
Every single lock was evenly spaced out. I felt like the whole day was portaging the kayaks, getting in and paddling around the bend where the next lock would come into view. This day destroyed my hands and back.
The second day few a spanner in the works when 2 of our members had to sadly leave for personal reasons. I felt bad for them and suddenly our team was small and we had to work out a new system for locks and rejig group dynamics.
Then there was Reading on day 3. It was a mess. We hit a huge wall of plastic rubbish that we just didn’t know what to do with. We started to do some litter picking and eventually gave up and paddled away. This was too big a problem for the Paddle Pickup team. It was sad to see the extent of human disregard in this way.
We’d been lucky with the weather but the rain eventually caught up with us on day 4, leaving me feeling cold and like a drowned rat.
And then, by the end of the leg day 5, I was done. Tired, sore and ready for a break.
Working with people
It’s not easy being with people 24/7, especially when you are taking on tough conditions. I’m super independent, so being in a team on an expedition like this brought new challenges for me, as did co-leading. It’s a new experience for me learning a balance between doing my own thing and doing right by the team. I’ve made mistakes, not communicated well and probably annoyed a few people along the way, but – and it is a big but – that’s totally ok!
We are here to do something about a problem we care about and that means we are driven by passion. That really shines through in the group. Plus, no matter how hard it is raining, how moody we are, or what we do to wind each other up, we have a solid fall back that has been working pretty damn well for us……laughter!
When was the last time I laughed like this?
After a hot bath and a massive breakfast this morning I sat down to look at the photos. This has been a challenging week, but in between all the difficulties has been incredible resilience and an ability to bounce back. Almost all the photos I have taken have been of us having fun. No matter what those waterways throw at us, we have sung, laughed and been silly.
And it’s been great.
As has the support that I have received from followers and loved ones. Shout out to Avy and Gav for the croissants. And to my gorgeous husband and niece who came to join me for a night, her first ever night camping.
Little adventurer in the making!
The roundup for leg 2 has been impressive with over 938 pieces of plastic collected from our waterways. That brings our running total to over 1,500. Reading and Henley were particularly hot spots for litter in the water. Areas where there are lots of pubs and events taking place.
Please do me a favour…next time you order a drink, say ‘no straw’….pretty please!
And how am I feeling about leg 3?
I actually can’t wait.
I already feel like a new person after a day snuggling on the sofa catching up with GofT. We’ve got 5 new women joining the team, a 2,000 plastic pickup target to smash, plus an epic city to see from the water’s edge.
London will always be my home and my favourite place in the world….this is going to be epic!
I’m posting regular videos and photos on my Facebook Page so do follow 🙂