22 May 2010

Overland Track Jan 2000 - Day 4

Windy Ridge and Hartnett Falls

It’s amazing, when you want to get somewhere quickly by a slow means, how much longer it seems to take. Trudging out from Pine Valley to pick up the Overland Track again seemed to take forever, and that was to get to a point that we had departed from 2½ days earlier. By the time we had reached Windy Ridge hut (effectively less that one day’s walk from the start), we were all spitting and snarling. Joseph was refusing to move his boots one more step, and I was threatening to use mine to hurry his pants along (well, not really, but it sounds more dramatic when put like that). After an extended lunch including a long cards sessions (any Uni student or senior public servant would be familiar with this) and enjoying viewing the Acropolis and Mt Geryon from the other side, we set off again over DuCane Gap, quite a vigorous climb from either side. Having earlier plagued all oncoming traffic with questions are to how far was Windy Ridge Hut, we now took great delight in telling exhausted parties how far they had to go, a sadistic pleasure which fuelled our own efforts and put a spring in our step.

The Acropolis and Mt Geryon from the other side, Windy Ridge Hut.We passed many groups at this time; families of up to a dozen or so with kids younger than Joseph and fathers struggling pathetically under combined weight of billy cans and teddy bears. “Poor buggers”, I smiled to myself, conveniently forgetting the fact that I was carrying the food, fuel and share of the tent of two boys who were each eating more food than I was.
One thing that astonished me, especially when passing nubile young couples, was their smells. Whether days away from sense-deadening cities had made me more “olefactorily aware”, or whether they just felt they had to smell stronger to mask more b.o., I don’t know, but passing some couples was more like walking through the “ladies’ paint-and-sniff” counters of Grace Bros. or D.J.’s. Still, I guess you never know when you might bump into some marsupial mayor or rodent royalty. Or were they trying to impress each other??? “Five days into the track and smell me!!! I’m still a rose! Aren’t I amazing?” Maybe I was envious of the fact that they could afford to carry the extra two hundred grams of underarm pong repellent.

Doo, doo, doo, looking out my back door. Hartnett FallsTruly, sometimes I could smell people coming before I could see them. This got me thinking. I wonder if they could smell the subtleties of the bush that I seemed to be experiencing. The native beech forests were wonderfully musty and spicy, and later we would be brushing past boronias in full flower, filling our noses with their fragrance. But what were these walking perfume-counters smelling? Then it struck me… By dousing themselves scentsless, they would avoid smelling stinky unwashed bastards like me!!!

Having crested the lofty and scent-laden DuCane Gap, we found a campsite that night that made me think we had died and gone to Hikers’ Heaven. (Come to think of it, the early climb had nearly killed us!) We pitched tents on a soft leaf litter surrounded by native beech forests, twenty metres from a waterfall on the Mersey River. Feeling in need of a swim, we stripped off - swimmers were far too heavy to carry - and skated across the rocks before plunging in. The water was indeed very very cold, reducing all claims to manhood to a mere vestige, but the skating was not due to ice but slippery moss, which in fact was what caused the plunging. The boys turned this to their advantage, creating a water slide to slip down.
Dinner, including a dessert of custard and stewed apricots, was cooked and voraciously eaten above the waterfall, the rock platform providing enough tables for all parties, even though none of us had booked ahead.
As the sun set on our literally gorgeous b.y.o.d. (bring-your-own-dinner), I couldn’t help thinking that folks would pay a hundred dollars a head to eat like this. All you need to do is invest in several hundreds of dollars of camping gear, walk several days to starvation to hone your appetite, and it could be yours for free!

As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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