Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Day 62: Big Gibber to Tea Gardens

The plan of attack for today was to make it to Myall Shores to restock for what would then be a following day's saunter down to Tea Gardens. But things didn't quite turn out as I expected...

Sunrise from Gibber
Walking 15km down the beach from Big Gibber I turned westward and entered the brush again to cut a short track across and onto Mungo Brush Road. Consulting my gps maps I felt reasonably confident that I could find myself an old mining road track to lead my way. Disappearing into the vegetation I hacked my through no more than 100 maybe 150m of greenery before coming to a prolonged stop at the base of the second dune. Faced by another wall of branches meshed together bravado was put aside and common sense pravailed. I turned around and went to go the long way round.

The not so short short-cut to Mungo Brush Rd.
After an unknown amount of time, probably not that long, I stumbled on a 4wd track connecting the beach to the Mungo Brush Road I was searching for. Heading north on the black stuff I back tracked towards Myall Shores which was 5km further up. Along the way I noticed that all of the designated camping sites to my left had been inundated with water. It wasn't until the following day that I would learn that the water line is usually 10m back from where it currently stood and in most places was lined with a sandy shore. To my right a swamp of reeds and tea trees expanded from the shoulder of the road back east towards the sea. Discovering this swamp I was very much glad I didn't persue the short cut route only to find myself faced with this unbeatable obstacle.

Swamp at the back of the dunes

Myall shores is actually on the northern shore of Myall lake but it's usually connected to the south by a small ferry. Following the road between lake and swamp it was with great disappoinment I soon discovered the ferry to Myall Shore was out of service. The flooding lake made it impossible for passangers to board or disembark on either shore. Instantly I realised there would be no clean water and no shops to restock for sometime yet to come. After already backtracking I was guttered by the situation I found myself in. With a deep sigh and momentary thought of self-pitty I turned on heel and walked south once more towards Tea Gardens.

By this stage my water reserves were running reasonably low. I had about 600ml of water to last another 15-20km. The situation wasn't critical but it was certainly far from ideal. If desparate I knew I could drink the brackish lake water. To conserve energy and water consumption I focused on slowing my breathing. 8 breaths per minute if my memory serves me correct. I kept my mouth closed and breathed only through my nose. I allowed myself one mouth full of water only when partched. It's difficult to ascertain the impact of such measures but I suspect they were probably more akin to a placebo. Whether it was more mind than matter I did discover some benefits from adopting the practices noted.

Tramped twice: The road to and from Myall Shore

When faced with a challenge like this it is interesting to reflect on the cycles one's outlook turns through. Personally I found that an inital short-lived frustration sweeps across you when you first realise what lay ahead. Then a train of rational thought begins and practical plans begin to take shape which will hopefully provide a successful solution to the problem faced. As progress is made this planning phase is succeed by a powerful sense of empowerment, a real confidence that the distance can be made, and maybe in a shorter time than previously conceived. However, physical discomforts slowly gnaw away at the positive mindset until you find yourself just wishing that you were already at your destination. Are we there yet? No. Are we there yet? No. Are we...... the child in the back seat continued to ask.

In these mad times I often wish I had my Ipod. Surely I could call upon hendrix, the zeps, the stones or any number of the 15000 or so tracks stored to distract me from the present and whisk away my mind to another place and time. But I left the Ipod at home for a purpose and this was it. I wanted to be completely conscious of every thought and emotion I experienced on this journey. I feared that if I did use the Ipod in such a situation I would fail to discover and experience these emotional troughs. Despite their heavy black weight, I now know these lows are just as important as the highs, for they serve as reference points, markers against which the good times can be compared. Just as a black text would never be as bold without a white base, so too would the emotional and scenic highs be lacking of luster without the adversary lows. It's times like these that give the great moments the distinction and rememberance they deserve. Ever so slowly I began to come to grips with the situation,the discomfort and the great distance still to cover. Slow and steady, one foot in front of the next, numb became the mind as I learnt to embracing the moment. Time permits all endeavours and as she passed hour on end I found myself at the destination I yearned for.

This was not the way I had planned to spend the last 2 days but I guess on the bright side I've caught up an extra day. I've said all it is I have to say, its now time to hit the hay.

Throw a dollar or two this way.

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