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Day Ten: Basin Camp Area to Flat Rock
I can't have been exhausted enough, as I had a very interrupted sleep with every painful part of my body paining - anyway, up at 5am to search for a small fagot to start the fire.
Spent quite a bit of my wakeful time last night thinking of what would be best to do today. Had decided (in the dark) that walking to Mt Warrawolong today, camp, then the walk to Heaton would work great. But checking the maps in the clear light of day, Flat Rock to Barraba is 6 hours, plus the 2 hours to Flat Rock means that wont work... The only other thing would be to camp in between designated spots?? We'll just have to see how we are.
Today is going to be one of our toughest, only 14 kms but lots of ups and downs and two long climbs. Water shouldn't be an issue as there is a large creek marked on the map just before the climb up to our intended Camp Site (which does mean heavy packs).
It's probably the effect of having a half day in one place, but the relentlessness of moving on is starting to weigh heavily.
The desire to stay in one place for a while is getting pretty strong.
Today we must get a SMS off to the boys. It's the third day already! When we haven't been concerned we've been amused that we're worried about letting the children know how that we were safe.
The camera's batteries are also getting low. I'm amazed how it absolutely chews these batteries. Have been disappointed that these shops don't have any heavy duty batteries (like Duracell). I'm having to take power conserving options, like turning off the display, but I'm concerned that it'll just stop any minute.
9:05am Leave Camp
We retrace our steps back to the T-Junction where we joined the Lyre Bird Track yesterday. As expected, it seems a much quicker walk back.
9:45am Track Junction
Lyrebird trail at Basin Reserve very pretty but just a narrow wee wander through some beautiful bush. Some particularly huge trees.
We sailed straight past the junction and kept on up the track which runs beside the creek. Not far past the junction we cross a stream and start up some steps: the first climb of the day. The map indicates that it's about 160 metres up to a ridge where we follow old forestry roads as they undulate North toward Bar Flora Reserve.
We're really feeling that we're beginning to walk into the Watagans, the hills are getting steeper but the views are getting more awesome.
It was during this section that we developed a deep hatred for roads made for mechanical conveyance: they seemed harder to walk than those made for pedestrian travel.
Tried the boys again: still no connection! Getting quite concerned now. We're well into the day, got some altitude and still nothing! Decided that maybe we should just leave the phone on as we walk along as it can't just be elevation that's blocking the signal. We've been turning it off to save batteries.
The track down into Bar Flora Reserve was a welcome change to the logging roads. Mt Warrawolong is quite impressive. On another day with more time we'd probably circumnavigate it just for fun: but we're just a little concerned about the day ahead. We'd been well warned about the toughness of the walking in the Watagans and the climb at the end of the day is about 270 metres, which will be with packs full of water (who put all the camping sites at the top of the ridges, eh??)
We'd just walked past Mt Warrawolong and the phone started receiving SMS messages: one, two... three!!
Had to stop and make the most of the opportunity, so we sat on rocks beside the track. As we did a beautiful large goanna wandered across the track just 10 metres further on.
The first message was from Jesse and Briony who said "Haven't heard from you guys in a while? Hope you're well, like to know soon. J&B"
The second was from Keren who said "Have not heard from you in two days. If I don't hear today I'm ringing the Police. K"
The third was from Nathanael who said "Please reply to this SMS immediately!"
We did as Nathanael suggested, and replied immediately. Felt good to get that done, didn't know how the reception would be in the next couple of days.
That done we hoisted our packs again and set off (keeping a lookout for large goannas!).
The track down to the Mt Warrawolong Campsite was terrible: eroded, though with motor bikes making flat slippery surfaces on steep slopes, made it very hard to walk.
Sandi fell a couple of times on the way down. What made the erosion harder to walk on was that trail bikes had skidded their way up the road and produced a polished effect.
Knew exactly what we were not going to do when we saw Camp Site 4.6. Didn't even take a photo: it was horrid. Too open and perched on the side of the hill.
Got a little confused when we were disgorged onto the road as we couldn't see where the track left the road again. The map suggested it was straight across the road, but it certainly didn't do that: there was a gate just a little way West.
We decided to stop over lunch for as long as possible to allow the day to cool off before a big climb up to Flat Rock.
The track takes you across farmed river flats, we got a little lost and couldn't find our way across the river initially. When we did find what must once have been the crossing before the storm damage, we were very glad that we had good water-proof boots. Not overly impressed with the water, we're hoping there is something better further on.
We crossed the river flats and climbed a little way up the other side where we stopped for lunch. Dropping our packs we went in search of some water. Didn't end up finding any, and we wandered far and wide, finally finishing up back at the creek (which wasn't really flowing at all). We filled our water bottles with the decidedly bovine smelling water, treated it and headed back for something to eat.
The water at the bottom was nothing to write home about either: looked like they had a recent flood then no rain, the creek was reduced to non-moving ponds, very brown but clear.
Snakes twice today, both ducking away and black snakes. One on the Bar and one snake in the grass in the marsh part of a paddock just before big climb where we came and went a couple of times to get water. Freaked me right out.
Sussed goanna tracks with foot prints either side of a trough. We thought at first was a snake track. Now we don't know the difference.
4:00pm Left Lunch Stop
The time had finally come, we're both a little concerned with how well we'll go (full packs and all).
The track is steep and eventually comes to a forestry road toward the top. The road is typical: too steep in parts, but we're feeling energised by the fact that we've nearly finished for the day; both feeling amazed that we made our last climb so well. Although we only walked 3.5km @ 1.2km/h (pretty slow), some of that was our afternoon tea stop!
Eventually we stumbled onto the camp site, could have almost walked past and missed it if we weren't looking and longing so much.
The last climb up here to Flat Rock was just one foot in front of another most of the time - certainly climbed quickly and the forest was pretty spectacular. Very thankful it had clouded over.
Not much camping here - but adequate, big BBQ.
Not sure if we'll have dinner or not. We decided not to cook down by the river as it was all private property and getting the water took quite a bit of time, so in the end we just had a date and vegemite sandwich and a mouthful of water.
We both felt initial jubilation having completed the day:
I can't believe we've just done our hardest day! Was it really our hardest?? Had two vicious climbs in it: one with full water in our packs.
Hardly any flowers in our walk today despite two flora reserves!! A cute wee daisy and these gorgeous tiny blue ones and that was about it. We did some extensive teeth gritting several times and pushed on and feel very pleased to have accomplished this leg. So happy to stop just had a cup of tea and feel much better indeed.
Sandi boiled the billy whilst I popped the tent up (not a lot of choice where to put it at this camp site). We're glad that the fire place is so substantial as it feels very dry up here and there is a fresh breeze. All the same we keep it as small as possible.
Decided to have our special walkers freeze dried beef stockpot: just add boiling water. We'd bought two to act as emergencies initially, quite expensive, but at Yarramalong when we decided to skip Paxton they became planned. Got to say: worth every penny!! Too easy. And real freeze dried meat - what a luxury.
The moon is getting quite full now and the nighttime landscape it creates is truly surreal. Down at Basin Reserve it looked like a lattice of dark and white chocolate. Here i had that wonderful silvery tone.
This is the latest we've stayed up on the walk I think. All we could do when we got to camp was to have a cup of tea - we were very dry. And our tummies were feeling a bit odd after lunch: the nut bar didn't do us any favours. But after the sun went down in an expanse of apricot sunset, we decided to have a meal.
Then we wandered down the road a bit and looked at the electric lights of another wold. We are on a very narrow ridge here - the actual lookout was a bit too far so we just climbed the side of the road, realised there was a huge drop and said "Look Out!!"
No water to wash in tonight (pity), but we hang our clothes out anyway to try and get them aired as much as possible (it also meant that they were some way form the tent and we could sleep ).
So, the end of another day! There are not too many left now. Today we walked 14km at a rate of 1.8km/h (not the fastest we've ever done, but indicative of the terrain we're walking through). We've walked 131 kms so far over 56 hours at a rate of 2.3 km/h, it's amazing how the kilimetres add up!
Tomorrow is quite similar to today, though only one steep climb.