Part 3 sees us waking up early Sunday morning for day two. A refreshing “bath” using baby wipes and then deciding which layers we needed for what was going to be a chilly start to the day. I ended up going with my merino base layer, t-shirt and a long sleeve running top – we were trying to avoid anything bulky like fleeces to minimise how much we had to carry around once we warmed up. This turned out to be an awesome combo and I was really glad I had thought to bring the merino top along.
Fleece on first though as we headed over to the kitchen for a port-a-loo visit and some bacon and eggs for breakfast. Needing a bit more, it was back to our tent for a bowl of Coco Pops I had put in just for this occasion! We faffed around for a bit more, repacking our bags for the day, making sure we had enough “stuff” and I decided to add Tailwind to my water from the start today – caffeinated Green Tea flavour, yum. It took forever, but we eventually set off , it was a bit more overcast today but still no wind so was quite pleasant. We started off on the roads for a little way, enjoying the morning quiet.
Then it was back into watching the map and compass. Find the bend in the road, take a bearing and head cross country. Wow! Soooooo much easier than yesterday. A lot less trees, much less ground litter which made for quicker and easier moving. Around 500m in and we landed straight on control 53. With the easier passage through the bush today we picked another straight line to go from 53 to 44. There was a fair bit of difference in our compass readings this morning with me constantly bearing off to the right of where Nick was. Given the excellent visibility though, we weren’t too concerned if we headed a bit off course as we should still be able to make out the flag. Needless to say, we were well to the “right” at 44, but heading down the slope it was an easy find. We bumped into another team here, so I grabbed a photo. We were all heading off to the same next control, but we decided to head uphill then along the spur while they were going the straight line option.
Again, the going was pretty easy, a few more contours now, but still managed to get right on the control (number 64) despite misjudging whether we had gone far enough or not – basically, if we weren’t sure, then we probably needed to go further. Every. Single. Time.
Next was control 73 which we decided to do a straight line. There were a number of side creeks to cross and we figured it would be an easy thing to count them off even if a couple of them were a bit steep. Still, it wasn’t too bad and we made it to where we thought the flag should be – and it wasn’t there! Shock, horror!!! Not a worry, we’ll head down a little way and over a bit, nope, Nick was sure we were one too far over, while I thought we needed to go just a little bit further and we’d be there. I tried heading over, but Nick literally would not move and decided we should head back up the hill to get out and make our way home. I made my case to keep going just a little further – my case consisted of “but it has to be just over there, it has to”. Nope, I wasn’t convincing. So up the hill we went, both of us frustrated at what looked to be the loss of 70 points, and quite a bit of time. Across another small creek and I continued trying to move us a little further over, while looking down the hill and pointing that it had to be “just down there, really”. Then – we saw other people! Feeling that we were likely quite lost within the map at this point, Nick suggested we head down and ask them if they could point out where we were so we could start making our way back. Not 10m on our way down the hill towards them – THERE WAS THE FLAG. I would like to say I was magnanimous in this display of my obviously superior navigational skills, but there may have been just a teensy bit of gloating…
It was a huge relief to have those points in hand after having given up on them and we started planning our way to control 40, figuring it would be our last before making our final way back as it was already a bit later than we would have liked. This time we planned an almost straight line path that would have us hit a creek and we then planned to follow the creeks all the way up to the control which would be sitting mid watercourse somewhere. One steep slope down into the creek gully later and we carefully made our way along the creek bottom, being the easiest way to get through here. It was a bit of a tangle though and we missed the first side creek, but somehow we still picked the right direction and after some time plodding along the creek we made our way to the control.
By this stage I was starting to tire quite a bit. I was physically asking more of my body than I had in an awfully long time, combined with lack of sleep and probably a bit less fuel and hydration than I should have had, my brain and muscles were telling me they had had enough. From 40 it was a climb up and out of the gully onto the road along the ridgeline – it seemed to take forever. Nick asked if I was ok, I answered no. He asked what he could do to help. My response – get me home. The conversation then proceeded like this:
Me: actually, I want a pony
N: how about a wallaby?
Me: I don’t think I’d fit in the pouch and I don’t think it would take a saddle. How about a pig?
N: I don’t know how cooperative it would be
Me: Pigs are smart, I could give it some caffeine, that should help.
N: probably just make it run in circles
Me: Do pigs chase their tails? Hang on, do pigs even know that they have a tail? I mean, they must know that other pigs have tails, but it’s not like they can see their own tail like a dog can.
The conversation deteriorated from there and we never reached a conclusion on the discussion, but at least we made it up the hill. Just over two kilometres on easy road had us finishing up back at camp again. We checked in, stuck our noses in at the kitchen and headed back to our tent to start the long process of packing up. It felt great to be out of our walking gear (especially shoes!) and we were on our way just before the presentations started.
Not too many new cuts on our legs today (I was a bit more covered up as well), and with better fueling we potentially could have kept going for a while which is a good sign. We were starving though by the time we stopped at Blaxland for something to eat. Eventually making it home around 5pm, with a couple of very tired kids in tow.
Coming Next – Part 4 – The Aftermath
Catch up: Part 1 – Death by a Thousand Cuts
Catch up: Part 2 – Where’s the @$*! Track?!