Sunstroke

I’ve never felt so spent. More than once today I felt myself on the edge of what I could stand. Dana almost defeated us all, but it was the Sun that dealt the coup de grace.

I find myself collapsed in the shade of a fir tree halfway up the mountain on the winding path back to Dana. Andrew’s gone on ahead to get water. He’s been a real hero, egging me on up the mountainside, but I’ve slowed to such a dreadful crawl that to keep him waiting would be nothing short of torture, what with the Sun enacting merciless fury upon us all. I can only hope he doesn’t think too little of me for my lack of staying power. Working out may be a new thing for me, and true to form I’ve been none too quiet about it in my usual late-to-the-party mode, but this is something else. I can’t even see where the others have got to; MacKenzie shouldn’t be all that far behind – he was trailing us by just one bend a little while back – but there’s no sign of Kate and Andreas. I do hope they’re alright.

My heartbeat has slowed to a beat every half-second; it was pulsing like a war drum when I crumpled under the tree about ten minutes ago. Before that I’d been desperately seeking shade like some kind of wretched insect, curling up head-down behind woefully inadequate slabs of sandstone to dip my head beneath a foot or less of cool shadow. Frodo’s climb of Erebor might not have been too dissimilar; in my dehydrated insanity I even considered crawling some of the distance, when my legs felt like they might give way and my head started spinning. It’s not even the sweat that’s the problem, I’ve gone beyond that. Even here in the shade, it’s the lack of water that’s choking me. I’m drowning in hot air. Every breath feels like sandpaper in my throat. You can’t see it, but the air is full of dust, thrown up from the desert rolling out to the horizon at the foot of this canyon, some six or seven kilometers to the southeast. The mountains take their own prisoners, but desert mountains are in an especially villainous league of their own.

McKenzie just passed by. He’s still soldiering on, despite having free-climbed the cliff wall with Andreas just over an hour ago. How he has the strength for this I’ll never know. Christ, I’m out of shape. And to think that the original plan was to strike out for Petra from here. It beggars belief. I suspect we’d need a lot more than just two bottles of water to keep the five of us going. Ugh, water. It doesn’t bear thinking about. My mind can only picture two things at the moment: intense heat or gushing cold water. Both, as you can imagine, are tortuous in the extreme.

But this heat, though… It must be pushing forty. What could drive a man to seek adventure in this merciless heat? It’s dizzying enough without the climb, and there’s precious little cover, what with the Sun bearing down with unfettered ferocity on this face; just a couple of boulders and trees on the way up are tall enough to offer fleeting sanctuary. I’ve never been so exhausted, spent in every way, from my toes to my eyes. If I could put a name to it – other than a very bad idea from the outset – I’d call it sunstroke. Thick wooly walking socks and a swollen toe from this morning’s roof-jumping escapades didn’t help matters. If it weren’t for Andrew’s breathing exercises, I’d have just about given out, I reckon. Again, the man is a hero.

I hear footsteps in the distance, running. Ah – here comes MacKenzie again, bottle of water in hand. Salvation! The five thousand weren’t more grateful for all that fish and bread than I am at this sight. Enough, cruel Sun, I concede defeat; I’d quite like to return to Dana alive, if just to put an end to this despondent surrender. Over and out. BB x

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One thought on “Sunstroke

  1. Pingback: Two Men Skilled in Climbing Mountains | Barnabas Abroad

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