Monday, September 8, 2014

Lower Barry Creek to Five Mile Road, Wilsons Promontory. May 2014.

walking in scrub near lower barry creek wilsons promontory
A nice day to be wandering. 

Have you noticed I haven't been here for a while? Were you curious at all? Well, you should be. I'm quite alive, although recently I've veered between suicidal, homicidal and lackofsugarcidal. All of these are draining my mojo for writing.

Oh, don't worry, I may vanish for a while, but I'll always return at some point. Even if dead. I want to be the first 'blogging ghost' who'll haunt the internet with words of rambling crap, unlike this current rambling crap, which is completely different, as I'm alive. Can you see the distinction? It's an important one.

So, remember this hike? I wasn't even going to write about this last day of the foray on the northern circuit of Wilsons Promontory. Hell, Smuffin and I did the walk in May, so it's getting a bit long in the tooth and worst of all, there's nothing in this final stanza to talk about. For completeness though, I think it's best to knock it off once and for all. Before I do though, a couple of things. I've needed to do some spring cleaning of the blog, but I had to wait until it was actually spring before beginning. Luckily for me, spring started, so here we go.

Has anyone noticed a few of the comments on posts are missing? Without sounding like a complete wanker (that'll be later), comments are vital to fuel a blog. You know why? I can't say this enough, but most often blogging just feels like I'm having an extended conversation with myself. Some of these posts can take a week to compile and if they're not well received (which might be totally unfounded), I tend to verge close to bronzing up. Comments are important and I'll dispute any blogger who says they don't like them. Who writes, but doesn't want any feedback? No and not just any no. It's no².

So, after finally getting my head around answering a few comments, what did I do? Well, instead of deleting 100 spam ones, I accidentally deleted the last 100 legitimate comments. I told you I wasn't in the proper head space for this. It was quite traumatic, but in some way, understandable. Do you realise I get up to 500 spam emails a day for the blog? Yes, they do go into the bucket, but some legitimate ones end up in there as well, so I try and fish them out. It's time consuming, so it's amazing I haven't ballsed up and clicked the wrong button before.

All I can say is, I apologise to everyone who's left a comment lately and has now found it's missing. No, I don't dislike you. Honestly, I'd give you all a kiss to thank you for taking up some of your time to leave one. Oh, maybe I should clarify regarding the kissing. With the men, I'd still kiss you, but there'd be no tongue. Sorry.

There's no getting around it. Those comments are gone and are now floating in the ether somewhere before no doubt landing at the feet of Jimmy Hoffa and Lord Lucan, who I'm sure are sharing a motel in Vegas at this moment.

Before leaving this topic for good, I must remind you about the comment policy in this joint. I only accept glowing, informative or something which adds to a post. If a smart arse one is left, like a couple I've had recently, I just delete them. So if you're a penis, how many times do I have to tell you? There's no democracy in blogging. It's a personal blog and I run a tight dictatorship here.

Right. What else? I haven't been walking much either, which is problematic when writing a hiking blog. I really should have stuck with my original idea, 'Sitting in the Cafe Fiasco'. It would have been so much easier. Anyway, I decided the only way to get motoring again was to head into the wild lands of Lerderderg Gorge. I'm telling you, that place with it's hideously steep hills and hundreds of snakes, always underfoot in the warmer months, is the perfect location to feel alive again. Let me explain.

I set out wandering within its narrow confines and faced the traditional, "which side of the river should I be on?" routine. I criss-crossed a number of times yesterday, until misjudging and finding the water was a bit deep. Whilst wading, the level rose up and up until finally the frigid liquid lapped at my baubles. It was quite a moment and as I let out a cry, which was similar to a squirrel on helium, I found something else come over me.

I was back. Ready to walk and write again. This bell ringing moment worked for me and maybe it could do the same for you? If you think about it, you don't even have to go walking and instead, do it on the cheap at home. Leap up from you sofa and stand with your legs apart. Then request your partner deliver to the cojones, an 80 metre torpedo punt, complete with follow through and if done correctly both your feet should lift at least six inches off the ground. As a result, can you imagine how alive you'll feel? Oh, if you're not sure about it, just give Google a whirl and you'll find some informative videos online. You can ignore the German language being used, as a visual instruction is all you need. Leather face mask is also optional. It's your call.

Don't you love a long intro? I've got one more thing to cover and then I can describe the last day of the hike where nothing happened. My next spring cleaning task will be the walking companions bit, which I aim to stick on the home page. At this stage I'll be doing a quick spiel about Smuffin, Ben and Derek. The only thing stopping me from doing it now is a photo, which will display them at their finest.

I found one of Smuffin where he appears to be humping a boulder. It's not bad, but as you can imagine, it's pending approval. I'm not sure of the Ben one? Currently he's doing philosophy at university, whilst also increasing his alcohol intake during down time. I guess I could get a photo of him unconscious next to a goon bag? Remember what Socrates said, 'In order to think, you've got to drink. Lots'. Oh, and Derek? In his aim to become an extreme ultralight hiker, his concerns about carrying excess weight was taken to extremes. Getting rid of his brain wasn't the wisest idea, as he can't think any more, so there's no point getting him to approve any photos. I'll do it for him.

Mm... I think that's it? I should have kept a list, as I'm sure there's more. It's slipped my mind though, so I might as well finish off what this post is meant to be about.

Smuffin and I had arrived at the Lower Barry Creek campsite in the mid afternoon. What's weird is we were surrounded by gnarly looking clouds and before we knew it, the wind had picked up, causing a whistling and groaning of trees grinding against each other. Surely it was going to rain? Luckily, I had brought a tarp for just such an occasion. None of this cooking in a tent caper if it began bucketing down. Nope, up went the Taj Mahal with it's vast big boy coverage to protect us from the elements.

tarp in trees lower barry creek camp wilsons promontory

As darkness fell, the wind howled with unabated intensity and I expected rain to tumble down at any moment. Lying in my kipper, I wondered if it was the last snooze I'd ever have, as creaking trees above left me mildly petrified about being speared like a kebab by a falling branch. I hoped not, as I wouldn't be able to write this post and I'd also miss out in buying a fridge magnet from Knob Lick, Missouri. Oh, in case you're wondering, I do like to keep my ambitions lo-fi.

Guess what happened next? I woke up and it was sunny and dry, with not a drop of rain to be seen anywhere. Huh? What was all that about? Talk about taking the piss. Oh well, we lost a decade of our life erecting and then de-erecting (is that even a word?) the Taj for no apparent purpose, but that kinda sums up hiking anyway.

Now the walking part. I'm really struggling here, as I have no recollection of the events. Mainly because it was full steam ahead to Five Mile Road. The vegetation was no different than the last few days. It tended to remove pieces of skin from our bare legs or ensnare us on the way past.

pack snared in scrub wilsons promontory

Stumbling along, I was reminded of my notes, which stated, ' the top of a prominent bare granite dome, drop the packs and soak up the magnificent 360 degree views...'. Mm... Where was this strange contraption he speaks of? After much walking, we found this...

granite rock wilsons promontory

...which really, gave quite piss-poor views. I assume this wasn't the rock as described? Either that, or the bloke who wrote the notes is about one foot tall.

standing on granite rock wilsons promontory

What's interesting is the track is quite easy to follow within this section, but it seemed to go in the opposite direction of where the road is situated. At one point, we were running parallel with Five Mile Road, but going the wrong way. We were so tempted to take a straight ahead approach and lop kilometres off the wander, but being good blokes, we stuck with what was was marked and plodded along. Oh, we found a large, flattish granite rock. Mm... Maybe this was it?

granite rocks wilsons promontory

The fun had really gone out of the trip though, so we didn't stay long and after a bit more leg slashing excitement, we finally hit Five Mile Road. It may be dull, but at least we'd finally be injury free for the last leg.

Seeing the road where one has to walk, snake off into the distance like this, is quite the mental drainer. No wonder Smuffin was on his haunches, cursing himself for not bringing a gas oven along.

five mile road wilsons promontory

On though we stumbled, passing familiar trees on the way. I think I've got about 20 photos of this one, taken on multiple trips.

tree next to five mile road wilsons promontory

Then the car was sighted. In the history of mankind, no vehicle has ever been craved quite like the Japanese one we dragged our bodies to. Not even the Volvo PS1800 (2 door) which Napoleon used to escape the Battle of Waterloo could compare for its desire.

Is there anything left? Well, there is one final footnote to all of this. After loading the car and employing full, 'Ari-Vatanen-opposite-lock-mode' (FAVOLM. Yes, FAVOLM you bastards!!) on the gravel road in my longing to escape the great northern wander, we stopped at the Yanakie General Store for sustenance. Namely a big stinkin' burger. We both ordered the vegan edition with extra bacon. Smuffin also bought some sports drinks (beer) to wash down the magnificent beast between two buns (no, it's not a porn movie title). Really. It was a pretty special burger, but even now, we're not sure if it was good, or we were just seeking greasy sustenance to placate our damaged minds having been slashed to death in scrub for the last few days.

I did consider taking a photo of it, but somehow, before my artistic mind could grab the camera, the caveman part of my brain grabbed the burger in a fearsome two-handed grip and inhaled it. With burger in one hand and beer in the other, Smuffin was screaming louder than the moment when Carlton last won a Grand Final. I can't even think that far back? At the conclusion of this feast, I guess he was distracted by the deliciousness of the moment. In cleaning up, he threw out the burger wrappers, beer bottle, beer bottle cap and his Swiss Army knife. Out of all those things listed, which is the odd one out? Even now he's suspicious I knocked it off, even though I've had my own for about two hundred years.

Is that it? I think so. No matter what I've written, it's a great walk and best of all, in hindsight it didn't seem so painful after all. Isn't that always the way? Even this photo of my legs when I got home, doesn't make me wince. Where's Freud when you need him?

cuts on legs from hiking
Bringing sexy back to hiking. Blood and filth optional.

cuts on legs from hiking

Oh, don't be a dickhead like us. Wear long pants. Gaiters helped a little, but overall, shorts are verboten.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tin Mine Cove to Lower Barry Creek, via Chinaman Swamp, Wilsons Promontory. May 2014.

corner inlet from tin mine cove wilsons promontory
Everything looks better in the morning.

The best thing about stumbling into a campsite in the dark, is when you awake, it's like you're in a whole new world. The previous evening, Smuffin and I, had arrived in black out conditions at Tin Mine Cove Camp. My recollection is hazy, but I believe my arms were outstretched, one foot was being dragged behind me and I was audibly groaning. Oh, just to help you out. I'm not describing a scene from the Karma Sutra, but rather inferring I was zombie-like.

It was creaky getting moving after such a mental day, but there was no time to put the feet up as this one had its own fears. Not long in distance, but a majority of time spent negotiating an intermittently marked inland section with the notorious Chinaman Swamp at the top of the list, as a potential horror spot.

Actually, before I get into it, a perusal of the map in the morning threw up some interesting observations. It seems in the ye olde days, whoever came up with the names in this area was short on ideas. I mean, really, what's with the Chinaman obsession? This day consisted of facing Chinaman Long Beach (as opposed to Chinaman Beach which was a little further north), Chinaman Creek, Chinaman Swamp and whilst we're at it, bypassing Chinamans Knob on the way. Oh, if you're wondering, Chinamans Knob is quite small, which was to be expected really.

Anyway, arriving in the dark, we might have well been on Mars, as we had no idea what was around us. In the daylight though, a wonderful landscape was revealed. A visit to the beach was also mandatory, as we needed fresh water from Tin Mine Creek. The descending track was easily found...

tin mine cove wilsons promontory

...before arriving on the sand to find the creek flowing well, as it spilled out into the sea.

tin mine creek across tin mine cove beach wilsons promontory

Again, we took a punt and didn't treat the water. As I'm writing this now and am not dead, you can assume the water was fine.

It's a pity we hadn't arrived at Tin Mine Cove in the early afternoon, as it looked like a great place to relax in. Instead, we were more or less on the go straight away, as we didn't want to replicate another finish in the dark.

Leaving camp, we had to retrace our steps from the previous evening to Chinaman Long Beach. I must say, I've no idea how we didn't go arse-up in the dark. The track was narrow and full of potential leg-trippers. Rocks and branches jutted out into the path and it was really quite amazing we're still not there now, rolling around in the bush somewhere. The views were nice as well...

scrub near tin mine cove wilsons promontory I looked back at Tin Mine Cove.

tin mine cove and tin mine creek wilsons promontory

We followed a non-distinct track, as it hugged the coastline...

scrub tin mine cove wilsons promontory

...before Chinaman Long Beach appeared through the trees and what a wonderful sight it was as well. Low tide is the beach hikers dream and the water couldn't have been any farther out.

chinaman long beach wilsons promontory

I must say, the shorts routine still wasn't working well, as the occasional branch would dig into my exposed knees, slicing off a bit more skin. Lovely, hey? So it was a relief to descend down to the sand for an interlude of pain-free walking.

This may have been the best beach walk I've ever done in my life. No wind, calm sea and a perfectly untouched beach with no signs of litter, which seems to adorn every other coastal walk I do. Oh, firm sand also made it a cinch, plus there was an incredible sight. Thousands of tiny soldier crabs were busily roaming the sand.

light blue soldier crabs chinaman long beach wilsons promontory

It would appear I would have stepped on a few hundred, but they were masters at avoiding my impending elephant stomps, so there were no casualties reported.

soldier crab chinaman long beach wilsons promontory

Really, the conditions couldn't have been any better for a morning stroll...

tree branches chinaman long beach wilsons promontory the sand stretched out towards the distant sea.

low tide chinaman long beach wilsons promontory

This is all lovely, isn't it? It's a pity we couldn't walk all the way back to the car along the sand. I'm not sure if it's possible, but I'm sure some punter has tried it. I'm assuming it gets a little swampy and marshy if one continued? Anyway, that wasn't for us to discover. No, we were about to head inland again and face the wilds of intermittently marked terrain. I must say, when leaving the beach I was a little disappointed to be facing this immediately.

scrub near chinaman long beach wilsons promontory

I mean, you're kidding, right? It looked like another long day trying to work out exactly where we were going, where we meant to be and wondering why people voted a halfwit to be Prime Minister.

Luckily after a bit of pushing and prodding of trees, an opening appeared and we could kinda see where we were going. Sort of.

wilderness scrub north wilsons promontory

Strips of weathered tape and thin plastic tubes were our guide and it was a matter of scanning ahead to see the next marker. As I was medically diagnosed with 'very fast eyeballs', I led the way. Oh, you're wondering what this condition is? Don't ask me, but when I had my last eye examination I was sitting there like a chump, having a test where I was meant to track different objects. At the end, the Optometrist said, "That's good. Your eyes are very fast at picking a target". So there you go. If I stand and stare out at a landscape, I can rotate my eyeballs at high speed and spot all sorts of things. I think this is a skill, but then again it might not be.

So, what happened through this section? Not a lot, as we were gearing up for the infamous Chinaman Swamp. A section where water can be over waist deep according to recent rainfall. Until reaching this point, it was a matter of strolling through a landscape, which was quite devoid of features...

scrub wilderness northern wilsons promontory

...other than the hills at a distance.

vereker range wilsons promontory

We passed quite close to Chinamans Knob and I kept my mouth closed as we did so, as you never know what might happen.

chinamans knob northern wilsons promontory

I must say, it certainly was level walking and remarkably easy, as the strips of tape continued to pop up, guiding us along the way. We were well on target to reach Lower Barry Creek before dark, but if we didn't, the landscape was littered with ready made lanterns. These looked like they were straight out of Tombraider. Light one up and you'd be laughing.

holding stick wilsons promontory

After the previous days tragedy of breaking his well travelled, home made walking stick, Smuffin used one of my trekking poles. No problem, but as per usual the terrain was beginning to bite and he ended up doing what he does best. Bleed...

hand bleeding

...all over the cork hand grip.

hand bleeding whilst holding trekking pole

Now that pole looks like it's come straight out of an abattoir.

Chinaman Swamp was fast approaching, as we pushed through tall grass, not knowing what was coming up.

long grass near chinaman swamp wilsons promontory

How deep would it be? Would we drown? Would we be eaten alive by swamp monsters? So many thoughts, but guess what happened? Yep, absolutely nothing, as the swamp was dry as a chip. Literally not a drop of water to be seen anywhere.

chinaman swamp wilsons promontory

Oh well. That was a lot of fear about nothing. I must say though, I can imagine it being a pain to negotiate when wet. Looking at the surrounding grass, there were watermarks up to my chest level in parts. Maybe in late winter and spring, it'd be wading time. On our trip in late May, it was a cinch.

Wandering on, the sky did look a little threatening at times, with cumulus clouds forming over Vereker Range...

cumulus clouds over vereker range wilsons promontory

...and with dry weather since the start of the trip, I was fully expecting rain at some point.

cumulus clouds above wilsons promontory

The terrain may have looked flat, but there were still a few traps for the unwary. At one point I thought I'd lost my hiking partner. One minute he was there, but in the next he'd vanished. After a bit more strolling I found him, trying to recover from an epic face plant. There's nothing quite like smashing your face into the ground when out walking.

face down after falling whilst hiking

You know what? Other than spotting this rather spectacular fungus...

fungi on burnt tree stump

...we arrived at the Lower Barry Creek camp with minimal fanfare. There was a bit of dicking around at times, as we lost the tape markers, but overall, the day wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was slow going though and a fleeting thought of trying to make it all the way to Five Mile Road and subsequently finish, were gone, as we arrived late in the afternoon. There was no way we'd bother continuing on in early darkness, after what had happened the previous day.

I was going to include the little Garmin GPS map, which I've done quite often in the past. The thing is, I'm not going to bother any more. They changed Garmin Connect, where I upload the maps into the blog from. As a result, hundreds have been corrupted, so I had to delete them. It took me quite a few hours of going through old posts, deleting all of the maps, which were now worthless. So Garmin, all I can say is, fuck you very much.

Luckily, I never trusted Garmin Connect and always made a copy of the gpx files, so I do have all the walks I've done. If you want one, I can email it. In the meantime, no more maps on posts!

What to make of it all? Well, this day had horror written all over it and other than a few million more scratches to our legs, it wasn't too bad after all. What's next? Well, it'll be the wrap up of this hike and thankfully, something new!

In heading off, I must admit this has been a rush job of a post. My stinking internet has kept dropping out and after an hour of speaking to Telstra, the end result is the modem is probably stuffed. It works, but I have to keep rebooting it, which means this post never got its mojo going. I reckon I've typed all of this in about 37 seconds in between internet connection. Oh well, you can't win them all. Until next time...