My Excellent Kokoda Adventure Part 2
One thing about PNG, every afternoon around 4pm, the low clouds set in and it rains. Today was no different. The boys went down to shower under a natural waterfall as they were ready first and then us girls went down to the creek… it was freezing and we couldn’t use soap so we refreshed ourselves and headed back to camp. This was our first experience of washing in a natural habitat and once back at camp, we warmed ourselves and waited for dinner and sent to bed around 7pm, lol!
No-one slept well being the first night out and we were woken up at 5:30am ready to head off at 7am. All our packs had to be ready for the porters and off we went as soon as breakfast was over.
Day 2 saw us trekking for an arduous 8 hours. I was generally in a content mood and concentration of where to put my feet was imperative. My porter, Armstrong, is an angel. A young man not much taller than me, 24 years of age and very, very strong.
There were times when we were climbing that he would carry my daypack as well as my other pack, and also pull me up those big steps. I kept thinking… “What on earth was the Creator thinking when she designed this unrelenting terrain and why didn’t she make my legs longer!”
There were many places today where I had to literally climb up with hands as well as feet and places where I had to slide down on my backside. Also, many trees had fallen over the track which were difficult to get over and having the camera out for these places just wasn’t an option. I was already the slowest on the team although I did lead the first climb of the day at a pretty steady pace. After that, I let everyone in front of me. I was spent and didn’t want the pressure of having them behind me for the rest of the time.
More steep climbs up and down and whenever we get down to a river crossing, there is always a very hard climb up to camp. We were always happy to get to the end of the day and clean up a little.
Day 3 was an even longer day. About 9 hours. None of us carried a mirror so no one had any idea what they looked like and probably just as well. Judging from the photos, I’m glad I couldn’t see myself.
Up and down 45 degree sides of mountains is difficult and especially when there is mud involved. Did I mention the mud already? I had no idea how much mud would be on the track. OMG!! Enough for 100 years or more worth of beauty treatments… it was like walking through slops… squelch, squelch, squelch… I can still hear it.
Another thing… I had no idea we would be walking on the side of a mountain where in some spots, there was no room for wrong footing whatsoever! A body width and rocks jutting out to step on… not even a path! Excuse me for saying so but I definitely grew balls that day! A girl like me trekking in that place… and I have two beautiful young girls at home to think of! What was I thinking and what was my partner thinking letting me take this on?? This is what went through my head at the end of the day. If I thought of home I would get emotional and have to quickly distract myself to keep my head straight. Not being able to call home was also difficult however, I’m glad I wasn’t in touch. It would only have made me want to go home. Knowing that my emotional intelligence would be challenged, I could change my mindset so that I would be back on the track and concentrating on the task at hand.
Before we reached camp on this day at Templeton’s 1 campsite, there was a river crossing I couldn’t have imagned at Eora Creek. Lots of boulders and a zig zag mashup of logs and more boulders that seemed to go on forever. I had two porters escort me across this one and once over the other side, our guide Dave was waiting so I politely asked him “Was there no other way?” He laughed and took off up the mountain to camp.
Having shared my feelings and parts of the track here is in no way to put you off doing the trek for yourself if you are so inclined. Rather, it is to demonstrate that it is possible for any of you to do it. It’s not for an exclusive few and every year, there are more and more trekkers heading to Kokoda to experience it for themselves. I know there are other equally challenging treks out there. This is the only one I have taken on so far. The beauty and awesomeness of the landscape is truly worth it along with the experience to grow and face this challenge head on.
More to come……