Thursday, 11 November 2010

Hume & Hovell Track: Difficult start

My Hume & Hovell hike did not seem to start under a good star....

First of all, the bus would not drop me off at Yass, which is the starting point for the track. You wonder why that is? I wondered, too. My bus was a VLine bus, which apparently stands for Victoria. And as Yass is still in New South Wales, VLine is only allowed to pick passengers up there, but not to drop them. This gave me another 3 hours of sightseeing in Canberra before the departure of the nationwide Greyhound bus....

Things did not go smoothly with Greyhound either. First of all the driver told me he would not go into Yass, but drop me off at a service station on the highway. Unfortunately, he could not show me on the map where that bloody service station was! Depending on the location that meant either a very long walk or actually cutting off a couple of kilometers of road walk for me. Luckily, it turned out to be the perfect drop off point saving me 5 km of boring road walk!

I got off the bus, grabbed my backpack and disappeared into the station's rest rooms to get water and arrange my stuff. When I re-emerged 10 minutes later, the bus was still standing there and a big commotion going on. This was  supposed to be only a short drop-off stop! I asked one of the passengers what had happened. While the bus's luggage department was open, a thief had stolen another backpack with 1,000 AUD in it. The robbed passenger had left in pursuit of the thief and now everybody was waiting for the outcome. Everybody except me: I got away from there as quickly as possible before somebody tried to steal my backpack and started my hike.

I was dead tired from 3 very short nights in Canberra that I had spent in front of the computer and so I stopped as soon as I found any decent camp site. I slept for 14 hours straight and woke up with a cold. Or at least this is what I first thought it was. My nose was running and my eyes were itching. I was especially worried about my itching eyes because the last thing I needed now was conjunctivitis.... But then it dawned on me: Maybe I was just allergic to something? Everything was blooming and Maik had already had allergy trouble in Australia. But I have never been allergic against pollen.. What was going on? Well, I still don't know - but the symptoms disappeared within 2 days.

Lake Burrinjuck
At least the boat ride across Lake Burrinjuck worked out as planned. I arrived in time, paid 30 AUD and was on the other side in 15 minutes. So far, so good. But then the hiking problems started. As you might have guessed.... this area had received a lot of rain and wind recently. Surprise, surprise.... And telling by the trail registers I am the first person on this trail for the last 1,5 months. And that means: This trail section, that has been rated "hard" to start with, was totally overgrown and full of blowdowns. Hiking was tough and I got more and more behind schedule. All that plus a serious attack of chaffing made life miserable. On day 3 I got lost and only realised it after I had climbed up 300 meters. Great - I descended back and climbed up 300 meters again on another hill. By that point I was already one day behind schedule and slowly running out of food. But to also tell you the other side of the story: The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful! Undisturbed rainforest, rushing mountain streams and the occasional waterfall.

Waterfall along the trail
I camped in a meadow last night only to wake up by a torrential thunderstorm. Although my tent held up pretty well, I did not sleep very well that night. I broke camp very grumpily in the morning to start what the map guide called "a delightful stroll along the river". There was nothing delightful about it. First the whole thing was totally overgrown preferably with thistles. Everything was wet and after 10 minutes I was totally soaked. The river I was following had been flooded so badly that there was tons of debris like huge tree trunks all over the place. I started yelling in German. To make things worse there was a nice little paved road on the other side of the river. But the trail was routed on my "delightful" side. I started to wonder whether it is more practical to swim across and get wet or continue walking and get wet, too. Finally a swing bridge showed up. I have been on many swing bridges in my hiking career but this was definitely one of the worst. It was so scary that it took me full 15 minutes to cross about 200 meters over. Do they ever check the safety of these bridges once they are built?

As you can tell from this post I finally made it in one piece. I arrived on the other side on the road with 2 choices: Either continue 15 km of "hard" rated trail and then hitch into town or hitch straightaway. Being totally soaked, pissed off and out of food I was still deliberating what to do when the first car came along. I put out my thumb and got a ride into town. Life is so much better now.... And prospects are good: the next sections are rated "easy" or "medium"!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How does this compare with the Heysen?