Monday 25 October 2010

Hike Day 5 - Adaminaby to Gungarlin River

Up at six – to a beautiful sunrise that helped calm the nerves of the night before. The lodge was a zoo, with four parents, five children and twelve hikers (though two of them were going back to Canberra and two were just starting off). More porridge for breakfast, with soy milk, which is surprisingly yummy on oatmeal with honey.

H and C, the new hikers, got their ndoros on the front porch and then we had to hit the road. The plan was for the hikers to be ferried to the other side of the lake and then the two leaving us would drive to Cooma to catch the bus to Canberra. But H’s car didn’t have much petrol and about 15km short of our destination she stopped, saying that if L didn’t drive it back from there, she wouldn’t get to Cooma. The rest of us squeezed into two cars to get to the Nimmo Road and the start of the day’s hiking.

Support Crew James drove his 4x4 into the forest park, carrying our tents and gear plus two injured hikers. He later came back and gave three more people a lift to the top of the back-breaking, feet-hurting, soul-destroying 4km hill. (Were the dead dogs we saw strung from a tree an omen?)

Owww … everything hurt and it was hot, which was both better and worse. But we made it up to the turn off for the Power Line Trail. Apparently the others were a little worried we wouldn’t make the turn and left us a trail of orange peel. We didn’t spot it – but maybe the wallaby we saw had eaten it.

Along the trail, the power lines a comforting and oddly picturesque wayfinding device. Down a steep hill this time and into a beautiful plateau. It was like some kind of English pastoral scene: short, herby grass, butterflies, trees bent into interesting shapes. We stopped in this idyll for lunch (and the obligatory squats and stretches.)

After lunch up another hill, but not such a bad one. We met the guy in charge of the campground, who warned us, with a certain note of alacrity, that weather was blowing in: maybe thunder, maybe snow.

On again, sometimes stones underfoot, sometimes more dirt road. Excitement when we got to the gate – and sign – that marked our entrance to Kosciuszko National Park.

And not long after, we reached Gungarlin River Campground or, you know, Arcadia. Just a few trees beside the clearest, coldest creek; an iron plate over a firepit; a long drop that was inhabited by birds (the shed, not the dunny itself.)

We basked in the sun for a while, but wary of the promised bad weather, we had dinner (bags o’ curry – not bad) at 4. R supervised dinner and led us all in a game of charades afterwards. The dark clouds and rain started blowing in at 6 and we all dashed into our tents. I amused myself by taking photos of the tent, then read an Architectural Digest from 2001 and listened to the rain. There was a brief hiatus around 7 and I ducked out to use the dunny but went back to bed afterwards and was asleep in minutes.

Woke up a few hours later – LOUD rain, thunder, lightning, wind pulling as hard as it could at the tent pegs. I lay there praying the tent would stay put and not start to leak. The rain eased and I went back to sleep. Woke up occasionally when the wind got especially loud, but the tent (oh lucky stars and garters) stayed where it was. (Neighbours not so lucky – the flashing of their torch around 3am indicated that emergency tent repairs were underway.) Dozed off again until dawn.

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