This blog past carries on from a previous post, we pick up on day 3 at Dutgee walker camp.
Day 3 - Dutgee Walkers Camp to Litoria Walkers Camp (15km)
Today was a relatively low mileage day, so I once again tried to have a lay in but found it difficult with the heat. I was still suffering from a bad stomach, but a couple of Immodium seemed to have done the job downstairs. A quick cuppa in the morning and I am all set to go.
This stretch of the hike was a mixture of heath and forest, the heath had a very thin trail and I was seriously worried about snakes, but it was the forest that first drained the blood from my face. I rounded a corner to see the back end of a brown snake slither off into the bush. At that very second I was fine, but it was like a delayed shock. I walked on 50 feet, then stopped and realised what happened. OMG. 3 days before I was looking at Eastern Browns in the Brisbane zoo 12 inches in front of me behind a glass. This snake back end looked the same. I will never know what it was, but I was truly thankful I didn't see the front end, not at 3 feet distance.
After pulling myself together I walked on, but I wasn't the same. A phrase used by Elon Musk recently sprang to mind, I believe it is an old military slang term, "Pucker Factor". It certainly described the situation, I was a little frozen after the event. From that point on I was very wary and wisely so, just a few miles on a second snake sighting as I roled into camp. Later identified as a Bandy Bandy snake, only slightly venomous apparently, but it still freaked me out again.
I sat at the communal area reflecting on the day, when a fellow hiker came into camp, it was the first person I had seen since I started the hike. It was good to sit and chat for an hour with a cuppa, he was a local from the other end of the hike and was walking in the opposite direction. After some general chit chat we parted and I crashed in the tent.
Day 4 - Litoria Walkers Camp to Kauri Walkers Camp (21km)
After my morning ritual of checking my shoes were empty before I put them on, I packed up ready to go. The original plan for the day was to hike a bit further than Kauri and to hike onto Freshwater. I wanted to visit Double Island Point, specifically the lighthouse there, but due to the stomach bug, hot conditions and all the misery that comes from having a stomach bug in hot weather with only skanky water to drink, I decided to not visit the lighthouse. It was still 21 km just to Kauri and it was hot, considering it was end of Australian Winter. I was sure I couldn't stand their summer based on the heat.
The hike was a fairly boring one, but had some steep climbs through the rain forest.
The trail goes past Lake Cooloomera, home to the "Acid" frogs who love the acidic water. Unfortunately where frogs are, snakes follow and it wasnt long before I came round a trail corner to be staring at a large python, head 3 ft in the air, as thick as my wrist staring straight at me. Metaphorically my pants filled. I would have thought by this time I would be used to it, but no it still scared the living daylights out of me. I just very slowly reversed up back round the bush. I then got brave, yes I know stupid of me, but it was only a python, so I got my camera out ready to video it, peaked my head round the corner of the bush like a naughty school boy hiding from the head master, but alas it was gone. Like an idiot I then spent 5 minutes trying to find a python in the bush so that I could video it. Yes I know stupid, but it was the least venomous of all the snakes I had seen. I gave up looking and continued on, feeling like I may had conquered my snake fears, who knows.
Kauri was the most basic of all the camps, but I was hot sweaty and in need of some bad tasting water from the rain collection tank. I cooked up a dehydrated packet meal and then went straight to sleep.
Day 5 - Kauri Walkers Camp to Carlo Car Park (15km)
The final day, the home stretch to the end and the thought of a swim in Poona Lake was glorious. About 6 km in is Poona Lake, a lake perched on a sand dune system. Thousands of years of vegetation has resulted in a waterproof bottom allowing the rainwater to collect and not drain away. I wasn't sure if there were any animals in it, but by this time I didn't care. I dropped my backpack and went in for a swim, it was lush, pure heavan.
On the way out I met another hiker and his grandson originally from South Africa who helped me identify the Bandy Bandy snake I saw earlier. Being from South Africa he wasn't a stranger to some serious snakes. We had our usual hiker banter for a bit and then I walked on. Over the next 9 km I started to meet the odd person out for a day hike who had set out from my end point and a couple of hikers doing the trail going the other way.
The trail lead out through the forest and up some steep climbs to a Carlo sand blow, this is the last kilometre of the trail. It is a strange sand blow with warnings not to approach the edge nearest the sea as it is almost cliff like and the sand collapses.
I crossed the sand blow, which isn't easy. Hiking on a beach when you are tired carrying a backpack is never easy. On the other side I met a fellow hiker who had his leg in a splint, he had recently broken it. The car park half a kilometre away down a windy trail marked the end of the walk. It was an anti climax as there was no end marker, or at least I couldn't see one, just the car park.
The hiker I had met, his family had kindly offered me a lift into Rainbow Beach, which is about another 4km away. They were brave, 5 days in the tropical rain forest without a shower I wasn't smelling fresh, trust me. But still they dropped me at the surf club so that I could grab a meal and a beer in the restaurant overlooking the ocean and whale watch. I ordered the biggest burger they had and of course several beers, watched the ocean and contemplated the completion of another remote hike. I was looking forward to my hotel room, a shower and then getting back to Brisbane for a few days of luxury with some friends.
The hike was probably one of the hardest I had done, matching the Kungsleden in Sweden, but hard for different reasons. Hiking in the sun under a forest canopy in humid conditions with a stomach upset really took it out of me, it drained me. The only water available was the rain collection tanks at the camps, there was nothing in between. The water wasn't great, yes I filtered it but it still tasted bad. No water between meant carrying 4 litres of water each day which weighs 4 kg extra in your pack. I was glad I did it, completed it, but I don't think hiking in the rain forest in those conditions is something I would repeat, certainly not in the near future. It had truly been an experience I will never forget, fantastic memories for mainly good reasons .