Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 10: 5km, The Ghosty, Dreamy Day

During the night, the wind continued to blow in fits and bursts, constantly changing directions. The moon was full and as bright as a streetlight, reflecting off the white sand and casting vague shadows. It was our first night on the track by ourselves, and the nylon of our tent fluttered and snapped with each gust.

In the middle of the night, I woke suddenly, bolt upright, and shouted; I'd heard the sound of footsteps crunching on rocks, and I was positive SOMEONE WAS OUTSIDE OUR TENT. But then silence; with D awake, we didn't hear anything. We fell back into an uneasy sleep. Some time later (hours? minutes?) I bolted awake again, to the sound of THE ZIPPER OF THE TENT. But no.... The zipper hadn't budged. At least I didn't shout or wake D that time.

In the morning, D carefully inspected the sand all around our tent: no footprints. It was all the strange, eerie wind on our tent. Creeeeeeeeeepy.

Despite (or perhaps partly because of) the midnight terrors, we slept for dogs years; probably 12-13 hours of solid sleep. It was wonderful to wake up late in the morning, after it had warmed up (at least a smidgeon) and not have to bustle to get going again. We washed clothes in the waterhole, and D went for a swim, despite the chill wind that made me climb back inside the tent, which thankfully was super warm.

Around 11am, just as D and I were working on mending projects (D had managed to get a great big hole in his hat), GrownUpFriend and Englishman staggered up, looking rather..... haggard. The very first thing Englishman said, sounding exhausted, was, "M wouldn't have liked that hike."

So. Freaking. Happy we didn't have to climb over that bit of mountain.

After a short conversation, we decided to all move on just 5km further to the next campsite, right at the base of the next big mountain to climb. GrownUpFriend and Englishman needed to have lunch and wash their clothes, but D and I decided to get a head start so I could go as slowly as I wanted.

The walk to Stuart's Pass was strange and dreamy. I walked quite slowly, both out of residual worry for my aches, and because the landscape was rather unlike anything we'd seen before. The first bit was a long slog through the sandy riverbed, which was absolutely covered with snake tracks (eeeeeeeeeee scary). By the time we got to walk next to the river through the waist-deep grass, I was slightly paranoid about snakes, and stamping the ground with my walking sticks (in the vain hope it would frighten away any snakes) slowed us down further.

The best bit, however, was coming upon this:
 In a random, middle-of-the-walk, middle-of-nowhere, nondescript spot in the bush, a whole collected graveyard of cow bones.
Looks just like home.....

Headed toward Brinkley Bluff.
Luckily, my ankles didn't hurt much at all, but I wanted to still take it easy. It took us nearly 2 hours to walk just 5km at our leisurely pace. But even after we'd been at the campsite for a while, explored, and began to set up our tent, there was no sign of GrownUpFriend and Englishman. I began to fret, so D went back down the track to look for them. Thankfully, D found them not far along, and offered to help; Englishman wordlessly handed over his heavy camera and continued trudging.

I think by this time GrownUpFriend had gone a little crazy, because when we made it to our chosen camp, he looked up at Brinkley Bluff and said "HEY WE CAN MAKE THAT, LET'S CLIMB TO THE TOP, WON'T IT BE AWESOME TO WAKE UP THERE?"

Englishman is too polite to tell GrownUpFriend he's gone mad.
Luckily, we talked GrownUpFriend down from his can't-stop-going mindset, and had a lovely rest below the bluff.
Brinkley Bluff (not Uluru). So red!
More to come....

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