HIKING THE FISH RIVER CANYON

430022_10151726898064374_1124326098_n(4) By: Rhine Barnes In August 2012, I wrote about my journey to hike the Otter Trail on the Tsitsikama coast. At the time I was 15 months post-operative and my weight had gone from 169kg to 105kg. This was the first really physically challenging thing that I had done in many years due to my weight. Those who read the article will recall that I had a dramatic introduction to weight loss surgery after I suffered a mild stroke in 2010. This, as well as a number of the other medical issues which are so often associated with the morbidly obese person, had taking its toll on me. Hiking the Otto Trail at the time was a huge milestone for me and a clear indicator that with the weight loss, you can enjoy a healthy active lifestyle again. There were some issues on the Otto Hike regarding nutrition, energy and stamina for the post bariatric patient that I needed help with but neither Judy Kotze (Dietician) or the Sports Science Institute (where I went for advice) had had any experience with post-operative bariatric patients getting into this type of physical activity at the time. We worked out a plan as best we could but I soon found that it did not provide me with enough energy and I would run during the day. Armed with the lessons learned from that hike, I developed a better eating plan which was mostly protein based but high energy foods that would, in my opinion, give me more energy throughout the day. While the Otto Trail has relatively short hiking sections of plus/minus 12km per day, they are very strenuous with plenty of uphill’s and downhill’s. The Fish River Canyon, on the other hand, would require me to be able to cover 25 to 30km a day on some of the days over very rough terrain, loose sand, boulders and many river crossings. Nutrition was going to be very important as was hydration and for this, I included a low GI energy drink to add to my water as part of my hydration process. The Fish River Canyon, situated in the southern part of Namibia, not far from the South African border is second only to the Grand Canyon in the USA in terms of size. It is desert terrain with very little greenery around. Once you have descended into the canyon, you are committed and any turning back is a long and difficult process. The temperature varied from 30+OC during the day to around 15OC at night while I was there. It can get both hotter in the day and colder at night. The river was flowing and the quality of the water was not bad. I had hiked this trail better many years ago when the river was not flowing and the quality of water was very suspect at the time. We had to use purification tablets which made your water taste like chlorine. Before leaving, I made a careful record of each meal and its nutritional value so I knew how many kJ’s, Proteins, Fats, Sugars, Carbs, etc. I would be eating. Every day’s food was packed separately as this would also give me better control as to what my daily intake required. On Monday 26 May we woke at 05:00 at the Hobas Camp Site in Namibia and after enjoying our last hot shower for a while, we made our final preparations for the start of the hiking trail which was some 10km away from the camp site.

Leave a Reply