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Sunday, 19 May 2019
A LIBRARIAN from Sonning Common completed a sponsored trek in Columbia for charity.
Rosemary Dunstan, 62, was part of a group that walked about 50km to the Lost City in three-and-a-half days.
The site is named after it “disappeared” into the jungle at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire in the 16th century and was only rediscovered in the Seventies by tomb raiders.
The route was virtually all either a steep ascent or descent and the walkers had to overcome gelatinous mud and 1,200 moss-covered stone steps.
They also had to cross fast-flowing rivers and contend with fallen trees, torrential rain, intense humidity and insects.
Mrs Dunstan, who runs Sonning Common library and lives in Birch Close in the village, has now completed 17 treks around the world in aid of the Institute of Cancer Research.
She said this one had been particularly difficult.
Mrs Dunstan said: “There were 10 of us in our group aged between 50 and 75 but the majority of other groups on the trail were made up of younger people and they seemed to have far more energy than we had.
“However, our entire group completed the trek without recourse to the ‘mule of shame’ — having to ride a mule because the walk was too difficult.
“After a day and a half of very undulating track and two nights under mosquito nets, we crossed a thigh-deep, fast-flowing river and were faced with 1,200 steps, uneven, slippery and ladder-steep, to the lowest level of the Lost City.”
She said that when when they arrived at the city, she was struck by how big it was. The city is a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountainside, a network of tiled paths and several small circular plazas that are all joined by steep stone steps.
The walkers were given a platter of fresh fruit to enjoy and listened to talks about the history of the area before heading back the way they had come.
Mrs Dunstan said: “After a while it started to rain — heavily — but we kept going.
“We found the track blocked by a tree which had fallen and had to clamber over the debris in near darkness. We kept going, sharing the head torches, and eventually ended back at camp that we had left more than 12 hours earlier.
“The problem with a ‘there and back’ route is that you remember all the problems on the way there and know that they’ll have to be faced on your return. I found this particularly worrying.
“I’d already fallen in a stream on day two, putting my camera out of action and getting even more soaked than I already was, and on the final day I managed to strain my heel, meaning that I limped my way back for the last four hours.
“But I felt blessed that it hadn’t happened on the first day — how awful it would have been not to have reached the Lost City at all.”
Mrs Dunstan, who has run the library in Grove Road for 15 years, has previously trekked in Bhutan, India, Jordan, Zambia, Mongolia and Cambodia.
She hopes to raise £2,000 with her latest effort and has already passed the halfway mark. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/
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