It’s amazing how easily a night of strong winds and rain can wash out the previous days enthusiasm for an epic adventure …
In our case, I think the enthusiasm levels were in the negative range as we climbed out of our warm sleeping bags and whittled away at what could have been an early morning start, by drinking multiple cups of coffee and eating a slow breakfast as we tried to build some enthusiasm for the (possible) crossing of the Wanderer River and the adventure (cold, rain, mud and hills) that lay beyond.
I actually think we were close to moving past the point of executing our push for the coast, and were fast moving towards a default decision of spending an easy day lolling around, with maybe just a walk to the south, when in an unchecked moment of activity that surprised even me, I quickly climbed out of my nice dry ‘camp’ clothes into my swimming gear (I wasn’t that positive of a crossing), stinking cycling shirt and wet shoes and then walked out into the river to see if it could be forded.
To be honest, it was touch and go if I’d get across for a while, as although the current was pretty weak, the river floor seemed to be covered in very large rocks, so one second I’d be just knee deep, and the next I’d have plunged down into a big hole and be almost up to my waist.
|My second crossing of the Wanderer … Courtesy Tony Allwright|
However, although it didn’t look good for bike carrying, I did get across the river, and that’s when I got to see what looked like a giant crayfish sitting on the bank of the river not 3 metres downstream of me (but unfortunately, I had left my camera on the other side of the river in case I fell in so I couldn’t take any photos).
After attempting another crossing further downstream to see if it would be easier (it wasn’t), I decided to get back across the river via the bridg and, then once back at camp, Tyrone and I quickly grabbed the gear we’d need for the day and we set off to see how far we could get.
Our stated goal was to get to at least the Wart Hill mining camp, about 15kms south, and then see how we felt at that point, but our real goal was to get to the coast a further 6kms beyond that. A very hard six kilometres by any estimate from the satellite imagery.
After the second crossing of the wanderer (which we both managed without incident) we found ourselves back on a track not that dissimilar to previous days.
There were sections we could ride.
There were sections we just had to push.
There were overgrown sections …
Long wet sections
Long boggy sections
Steep sections …
Overgrown sections …
Overgrown and wet sections
And of course, rocky sections …
Tyrone confessed not long into the ride that he wasn’t feeling the best, volunteering a 3 out of 10 when I pushed him on how badly he was feeling, and so we revised our plan for the day from getting to Wart Hill to just travelling for an hour and seeing how we were going.
We agreed that if it were obvious at the end of the first hour that our pace was below 5kms/hr and that we weren’t therefore going to make it to the coast and back in a day, we’d reconsider.
We got to the end of the first hour and had managed just 4.1kms – well below our target pace, but we decided (maybe with some cajoling from me) to head to the top of the next spur in the distance just so we could see what was ahead …
And then when we got there, we went to the top of the next one, and the next one …
At two hours in, we were still heading south, but we had only managed another 4kms in that second hour.
We knew at this point that at our current pace it would be another 2 hours before we were likely to make it to Wart Hill camp, and from there it would likely be a 4 hour ride back, maybe more if we were tired.
I think we both knew we were defeated, but neither of us wanted to admit it, so we agreed to go a little bit further … that little bit further – just 700 metres in fact – saw us bashing our way through some thick scrub, heading off on into a dead end trying to cross a stream and then finally coming up over a little rise to just see the trail arcing around in front of us as far as we could see in a seemingly infinite and unyielding series of small ridges …
And that’s where we stopped and that’s where we agreed we were done.
It wasn’t a special place to end. Heck, it wasn’t even a place: just a random spot on the track around about 55kms from the start (and about 17kms from the end) where we decided we’d had enough.
55kms in three days. I laugh as I type this now because next weekend Kim is going to try and run 101kms in just one day.
I took my camera out to take the photo above and the selfie at the top of this post, and then we turned around and we headed back to the north.
It was time to start the long trip home …