Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Campathon 2005 - completed!

All in all the camping and hiking was a resounding success! I think it was exactly what I needed to rouse me from the malaise that I have been in of late. The sunshine, fresh air and frequent swimming managed to wash away much of the depressive cloak that has been shrouding my soul of late. I should add that I don't necessarily believe in such a thing as a soul but it seems a good word to use in lieu of anything appropriate to sum up all that encapsulates what a conscious person is.
So, to break down the trip:
Day 1: Saw us hiking to Little Waterloo bay. We arrived at Emma's early in the morning and much complaining about general tiredness was engaged in by all. This was a fleeting thing as we were all quite excited about the impending journey. We set off from there on the 3 hour drive to the prom.
The weather was already a picture of sparkling perfection and after we consumed some burgers and purchased camping supplies we struck off along the first trail. The conversation streamed fast and furious at first as we were all filled with energy and enthusiasm. Walking sticks were found and then discarded as we realized that they actually prove to be ornamental rather than practical.
I couldn't believe how pristine and untouched the wilderness that constitutes "the prom" remains. There was an abundance of wildlife (see day 3 for our encounter with a tiger snake) and being away from the city and particularly my mobile phone had me feeling peachy! Leaving the mobile phone at home was a good idea as it meant that I was constantly checking it to see if she had called.
The hike to little waterloo bay took about 4 hours (roughly 11 km's distance) and the banter that had flowed so easily before started to flag as fatigue set in. I fared far better than some of the members of our expedition as I had packed lightly and consequently didn't have to lug a heavy pack the whole way. Despite this it was still a fairly arduous journey for a man that lives a rather sedentary life.
It was near dark when we arrived and we promptly set up camp. I was concerned about setting up the tent as construction has never been my strong point but it was a simple 2-man and did not prove difficult. One of the bonuses of my small tent was that a) it was very small and b) I was sharing it with a very VERY fit girl. This situation was made even rosier when the nights turned cold and said hot girl had to snuggle in to young Jason's body!
I almost forgot to mention the beach that we came upon at Waterloo bay - it was truly fantastic. I don't think I have even seen any quite so blue or inviting. We swam for much of that afternoon which was a good opportunity to wash off the accumulated dust and grime from the days trekking. There is something about an untouched beach, something timeless and otherworldly that erases your troubles and makes you feel small and yet universally connected. Something which I do not have the writing skills to convey. So I won't bother trying...
Day 2:We awoke early to a morning that was largely dominated by stiffness and soreness. Our bodies complained: "hey, you never take me out for a spin and now you propose to ask this out of me? Not likely without me fighting back!" These aches and pains were not only from the previous days march but also due to the unfriendly hard ground that we had to sleep on. I spent the night constantly rolling from side to side trying to find that elusive soft spot that would provide a gateway so sleep. I did not find that place, that sweet water-bed of my dreams throughout the whole three nights of camping.
Our destination for this days hike was a place called refuge cove. This leg of the journey was by far the toughest on foot. The trail winded it’s was through many coastal hills and was littered with jagged rocks and steep inclines. Emma and I pushed the pace and by the half way point we had left the group behind. This was more due to the lightness of our packs rather than superior fitness.
Even though our muscles begged for mercy and this cry was heard through aches and pains in every region we were still amazed at the grandeur that was the oceans and mountains unfolding around us. The terrain at the prom is extremely diverse, it shifts between sub-tropical rainforest, humid swamp land and from time to time resembles an American style rocky desert.
Another amazing beach awaited us when we made camp and more swimming was had. We were quite jealous when Tim managed to convince a group of holiday makers to let him climb on their boat and then proceeded to share their beer, cheese platter and other such luxuries with him. Meanwhile we were forced to eat packet mix food and did not even have a proper toilet to go to. Good luck to him I say!
We spent the night playing Uno, learning (trying to learn) how to play 500 and swatting mosquitoes. Another night was spent by a very happy me snuggling up with the gorgeous Tongen... Now I know what you're thinking and the answer is no! There was no fooling around with her. She is a mate’s ex-girlfriend and I would never go so far as to engage in any "fooling around" with her. The fantasy remains just that.
Day 3) By now the muscles had started to rally hard against their mistreatment however we had no choice but to push on. The first half hour or so seemed to be the worst and after that their protests would subside. It was a fiercely hot day and we were sweating profusely after the first kilometer or so.
The views were just as beautiful and there were a lot of large boulders to stand on along the path which provided excellent photo opportunities. Emma, Glenn and I broke away from the group again and we covered the distance to Sealers Cove at a pretty impressive pace for 3 lazy, unfit 26 year olds. We made it to camp around midday so we had a lot of time on our hands. This meant that after setting up camp, which was located in an incredible clearing surrounded by boulders and ancient gum trees almost reminiscent of the ewok landscape in The empire strikes back, we were able to spend the rest of the day at the beach.
It was such a magnificent day and the sun was shining so fiercely that the water, which flows towards the prom from the frigid frozen depths of the Arctic, was quite warm and inviting. I intended to read whilst away however I became far too relaxed whilst on the beach to even bother opening the book. Instead it became a pillow as I lazily watched the day go by and inhaled the ocean breeze. How can anyone have a worry in the world when nature is willing to provide such sweet counsel?
Towards evening I started to feel a little crap from a combination of too much sun and over exertion during the hiking. I spent the evening lying in the tent while the rest of the gang played a version of Uno that included consumption of Tequila as the penalty for failure. Much cheating was going on in the background and pretty soon all participants were cheerfully inebriated. I felt a little sorry for the other weary campers as my companions were quite vocal at an hour when most travel weary people would prefer not to be disturbed. The end result of too much liquor was the inevitable "skinny dip!" There were certainly no arguments coming from us when the girls ran naked into the sea. I went out as well in spite of feeling reasonably seedy, however it was more so I could say I did a nudy run and at the possibility of seeing the girls naked than due to any desire to brave the cold ocean water in the depths of the night! Did I mention that during that days march we almost stumbled upon a tigre snake? It was big and black but beautiful in a strange alien/reptilian way. It had no interest in us, it just took its time and slowly slithered off the path...
Day 4:The final day of our trip saw many of the group nursing sore heads and fatigued bodies from the previous 3 days hiking and the excess ingestion of tequila from the night before. I was feeling far better. The days hike was a lot easier with less broken trail and less steep ascents.
4 days without a shower was beginning to take its toll as we began to feel merged with the dirt and mud that we had been wading through. I constantly mentioned the plan of stopping at a pub on the way home for a chicken parmigana. The imagery of a crumbed bird smothered in melted cheese with a side of steaming hot chips served well to distract us from any discomfort we were feeling. As it was the hike was over quite quickly with a final positive upon reaching the top of a mountain that was continually caressed with a cool refreshing mist. This clearing was reminiscent, in my wildly overactive imagination, of a Scottish highland scene in which mystical druids would perform mystical ceremonies that I couldn't understand because... They are mystical, right?
So we made it to the cars, celebrated our small triumph over the wild and headed back to civilization. We stopped on the way for the earlier mentioned bird, which was I might say, every bit the meal that I promised it would be. We arrived back at Emma's around 3 in the afternoon, battered but not broken. The only real injury was Suffered by Adrian whose small toes had blistered and swelled into something that would make Quasi Moto or the Elephant man feel good about themselves.
In summary I would say that the trip was a resounding success and helped me to resolve a few issues that had been clouding my perspectives for the last few months. I stopped thinking about her, at least for awhile, and began to realize that I need to move on with my life. I probably won't do anything like it for quite some time, living rough takes it out of a city boy like me, but it was exactly what I needed at this time in my life. Now I need to go and take care of another pressing need - sleep.

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