The hike continues……Day 18
The camp was cold but no rain! We were on the road by 8am and walking well. The day was cool and overcast but no rain all day. The buckshot gravel has dried out and the traffic looks much safer today.
Today is also Dad’s birthday. Not much fuss but we did find a couple of packets of liquorice allsorts to mark the occasion.
Heard our first dingoes overnight. Our routine is that we get up at about 6am, have breakfast and pack up camp, walking by 8am. Rodger marks out 5kms while the others drive 7kms and find a smoko spot. We arrive at the 5km mark, lean on Rodger’s 4WD, do some stretches and complain about how hard the walk is. In turn Rodger tells us if we are walking too slow (usually) or speeding along (only when it is raining). He then tells us it is only 2kms to our stop and we need to get going again. At the 7km point we stop for 15mins and replenish water and any other supplies.
We repeat this (including the grumbling and stretching) to get to our lunch spot at about 14kms. Here we generally collapse into our chairs, say that we can’t walk a step further, have some lunch, a rest and replenish water again. After an hour’s break we head off again saying how amazing we feel after sitting down for a while.
For the first afternoon leg it’s the same as the morning routine, although this time we are usually slower. We also don’t complain as much in this part of the day. We are too tired. After the 21km mark where we have another 15 minute break the rest of the crew go and set up camp. They will try to find something about 4-5kms away but sometimes a suitable campsite can’t be found and we have to walk a few more kilometres.
We’ve got to the stage where we can handle 25kms each day, but if we have to do an extra 3 or 4kms to camp we think we are very hard done by. There are road trains using this road regularly heading to the mines. There are a few different drivers. All are very respectful, slowing right down so that dust is kept to a minimum for us. A very nice touch.
We went into an area called the Breakaways for lunch. Some really nice rockfaces and a nice sheltered camp spot. After lunch we decided that we would walk 10 kms and then return to the breakaways to camp. We are also going to have a break tomorrow morning and leave after lunch.
Dad and Rodger set up a shower tent for us. Rodger heated up the water and dad erected the tent. so nice to have a warm shower after several days. Not enough water to wash hair but it was really nice to go to bed feeling clean. During our rest morning we found the bloke who has been following us. We knew someone was following us with a cart and thought he would catch up sooner or later. His name was Sam. He is 30cm taller than Judy and I and at least 25 years younger so he is covering way more ground than us each day.
Nothing remarkable today. Walked 24 kms. Same road same landscape. Haven’t stumbled over a gold nugget yet. Update: the day was unremarkable but the night is shaping up to be a doozy. It’s 6.15pm and I’m tucked up in my tent. Not sure whether the galeforce winds are just blowing up a dust storm or if it will rain. Hoping a tree doesn’t come down on anyone. Going to be a long night.
It was a very long night. Even cocooned in my sleeping bags (yes plural with a couple of blankets as well), earbuds in listening to a book and a pillow over my head – I could hear the wind gusting in the trees and then a huge thwack as it hit the tent. I even debated leaving the sanctuary of my tent and crawling under the trailer with my sleeping bag but laziness won in the end and I stayed where I was at least warm.
We walked our 14kms in the morning but both really struggled. It is becoming a mental challenge now. I am homesick and don’t want to be here. Every step hurts for both of us. I am struggling with shin splints and Judy has trouble with sciatica. The weather is hot and still and the road is hard buckshot gravel now that it has dried out. We are just having to push for each step.
Tomorrow we should get to McDermid Rocks for lunch. It is a high spot so maybe we will be able to get a phone signal. Here’s hoping. We made it into camp early today, about 3pm so have had a few hours to relax. My shin is very swollen and painful.
Today there have been lots of birds. They have been missing for a few days so we must be getting closer to water. Today we saw our first emu and first thorny devil, sadly both road kill. Plenty of fresh snake tracks this afternoon. The bush around here is very much like home. It feels like walking through the Little Desert but it never ends.
John and Bev have decided to drive into Norseman today so I will send my phone in so I can send or get some text messages. It is about 120kms to town.
We walked to McDermid Rocks for lunch. It is quite spectacular. After lunch and a break I thought I could walk to the top of the rock. It wasn’t too hard, just a bit steep. John and Bev arrived back just after lunch with icecream for everyone and text messages sent and received. It was so nice to get a message from home.
Just after McDermid Rocks our road turned north and we are finally off the main Norseman/Hyden Road. The road is much quieter and the surface is better to walk on. It is patches of sand topped gravel and buckshot.
Mum and Dad also got extra water in Norseman so I washed my hair and the clothes I have been wearing each day. 14 days is a long time to be wearing the same clothes. This is so much a mental battle now. I miss home, especially as Graeme’s team won the GF yesterday. I miss my kids, I miss my stuff. There are things I need to organise for CFA and work I need to do. Basically I just don’t want to be here and I do not want to walk another step. I still have blisters (new ones appear daily), my shin is painful and swells alarmingly each day. I can, however still put one foot in front of the other and so as my sensitive husband put it….suck it up Princess and keep going.
Today I trod on a snake. Sadly for the snake, further investigation revealed it was already deceased. Lucky for me though as the whole incident hardly rated comment. We were on our 4th shift so we had already walked 20+km and were in the heads down, autopilot slog and it was like ‘I just trod on a snake ‘ and a half hearted ‘really?’ ‘Oh, its okay it’s dead’. We didn’t even think to take a photo. The live snake we found didn’t rate much more of a mention. We did take photos though.
John and Beryl have been walking with us some of the way, especially in the afternoons when it is hot and tough going. Our camp is further than usual – 28 kms for the day and we are ready to have a meltdown. We eventually see the red flag in the distance. Bev has been using this flag to mark our campsites. It is a welcome sight but seems so far in the distance.