Greenstone & Caples

Even before I had late-onset idiopathic scoliosis, I still knew that you have to watch your back! As such, it was recently discovered that hiking packs are truly awesome. Gone are the days of trekking with my small white Jansport and hoping for the best. My new investment is sturdy and makes camping gear feel extremely lightweight. After shoving handfuls of food, layers of clothing, three blankets, some outdoor gear, slippers, one giant water bottle, several electronics and a fluffy sleeping bag, I found that it all rests comfortably around the hips with room to spare. Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout!

Being our first mutliday hike sans huts, this trip was too legit to quit. Everything we needed fit snugly on our backs for miles of bushwalking fun. For our roommate, Josh, it was his first tramp in the wild so he didn’t know what to expect. And so, homeboy decided to take a bottle of Jack, a 10 pack of Bacchus-D energy drinks, neon clothing, and a pink sleeping bag (this Boy Scout clearly didn’t earn any badges).

The first day started off easily enough. We walked for five hours through low-lying valleys staying close to the Caples River. It may not be obvious that the weather here is inherently inclement, but we saw rain, clouds, sun and fog all come and go within 24 hours. Still, nothing beats our spirit…especially when we set up a tent in six minutes flat! A quick foot wash in the river followed by a PB&J dinner meant sleep came in no time… until some demon-possessed possum started screeching his head off next to our tent. Add to list of cray cray critters.

The next morning roughly focused on going up, down, up again, down (x40) the McKellar Saddle. The going was slow and at times pretty steep; reaching the summit was the highlight of the day. After passing a sweet-looking hut, we continued walking until we found the perfect place to camp. Situated right by a streambed, it felt achingly awesome to be able to take a bath in mind-numbing ice water followed by a scrumptious feast of canned corned beef. Clean, full, and slightly dazed from weariness, we sat around still as a trio of waystones beneath the beaming, starry sky for hours. Twas a good night!

Unfortunately, the third day became something of an adrenaline-fueled frenzy. Given the possibility of more rain ahead, less food on our backs, and lots of sunlight hours to spare, the boys decided it would be best to go ahead and finish the track. What should have been a 4-5 day walk ended up being a  3 day callus-busting workout. After losing Josh who disappeared in the bush for two hours, one of the German guys we’d bumped into earlier popped out of nowhere on the path. Apparently, he’d lost his two friends yesterday who also happened to be carrying his tent, most of their food and his car keys. Undaunted, Joscha survived eating dried oats and sleeping underneath tables for shelter. A good companion, we walked together until we finally found Josh. Reunited, the four of us pushed on relentlessly passing hill after hill and scrambling haphazardly over rocks. At one point, realizing that we smelled worse than dead daisies, the Greenstone River beckoned us forth for a spine-tingling dip.

At the end of the day, we had walked 30 km just to complete the 59km route. It totally kicked my butt from head to toe rendering me slightly hunch-backed. Still, I couldn’t help being sluggishly ecstatic the moment we made it back to the carpark. To celebrate, we bought ice cream bars from the nearest town and dropped Joscha back at the track to wait for his friends. Before saying goodbye that night, we left him our tent and remaining food and wished him good luck. It was a bittersweet ending to an awesome trip, but with his ninja skills, I have a feeling that he’ll be A-ok.

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