Buck 30 had just finished it a month before and was full of praise for it - and so I was really looking forward to it.
|Me before the rain|
I had hoped to hitch the 150 km in half a day and started at 9 am in the morning. A lady quickly stopped to pick me up and she went to exactly to where I wanted to go, but she warned me that she would stop at all the sights on the way. That could not take too long (I thought) and happily I got in. She really stopped at every single sight and took her time. A guided tour at one sight, a cup of coffee at the other and then we had to wait for the right angle of sunshine at another. And then we had to take a lunch break. And then we had to drop another hiker off who had asked her for a ride as well. The clock was ticking and I got more and more nervous. I was just itching to hike!!! After 7 hours we had eventually made the 150 km and I arrived at the trail terminus at 5 pm. Way too late for hiking and so I just pitched my tent.
|Flooded road on the way to terminus|
And now you have to picture the terminus: The car park, picnic/campsite area and water tank are on one side of a river, but to start the trail you have to cross that river. Like my guidebook said: All the streams are usually dry and that one was only ankle deep. Easy crossing! I pitched my tent at the official hiker campsite which was pretty shitty and looked like it would easily flood. But there was hardly a cloud in the sky and so I pitched my tent and went to sleep.
I woke up at 11 pm with howling winds. 2 minutes later it started to rain. 3 minutes later it started to pour down. 4 minutes later the campsite was completely flooded and my thermarest was swimming in a pool of water inside my tent. Luckily I had learnt in the rainy season in Japan how quickly things can go bad and had already stowed away my sleeping bag. And I remembered the picnic shelter 300 meters away! I packed all my stuff and run up to it. Rain had stopped, but luckily I pitched my tent now inside the shelter... To cut a long story short, I poured down the whole night. Really the whole night. Under the shelter's metal roof it felt like the world would go under. But at least I did not get flooded again. I don't know how I could have survived that night in my tarptent alone.
|Water level at the time of my crossing|
I came back every hour and every hour the water level had dropped by 10 cm. By 1 pm I realised that another hiker was trying to come over from the other side. He did everything wrong: He waded barefoot, just had a wooden stick instead of trekking poles and did not open the hip belt of his backpack. It took him 1,5 hours to make it to the other side and I was thoroughly surprised that he did not drown in the process. Of course, he wanted me to take several pictures of him after the deed! I tried to cross the same way he did, but it seemed way too dangerous. The current was just too strong. I tried several passages and after 1 hour I was on the other side - totally drenched and shaking, but alive! This had been one of the most dangerous river crossings I had ever done. But things could only get better now! As my guide book said: All the streams are usually dry!!!
|One of the flooded gorges|
The days continued like that: Water everywhere! I had wet feet every day and felt like back in Florida (and not like in the outback). At least I did not have any drinking water problem either.
But unfortunately my plight was not over yet. On day 5 I had so gotten used to all that river crossings that I forgot that I had my cell phone/camera in my pant pocket when crossing another one of the usually dry sand filled creek beds. I only realised that when I heard some desperate beeps - the last sounds of life of my cell phone when I waded through thigh-deep water. I tried to dry the phone - but it is dead! And I am without phone, camera and MP3-player. I have not figured out how to solve that problem yet....