Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Doing the Great North Walk Backwards
Day 4 - 11 Dec 2013  Heaton Gap to Baraba Ridge
I set off early and climbed into the Awaba State Forest. Met a guy who had done the whole trek some years ago. Now he does the climb from Heaton Gap to Heaton Lookout and back once a week, and reckons that keeps him fit. I reached the lookout by mid-morning and the view looking back to the coast was spectacular.
The map indicated water was available at Heaton Lookout so I had been drinking freely, not concerned I'd run short. I found the water tank, but it was marked with a cautionary sign that made me think it was not for drinking.
So I continued without filling my bottles, trusting the maps again which indicated there was more water ahead at the 'Forestry Campsite'. Sadly by early afternoon, I found the tank there was empty.
My choice was now to walk back for six hours to Heaton Gap or keep going  and chance finding water on the way. I chose the later and pressed on into the Watagans National Park.

Good walking although I was distracted by the water issue. At dusk around 8pm I was exhausted but had reached a beautiful place called 'Barraba Campsite' and pitched the tent among the xanthorea trees. Feeling sore and sorry for myself, thirsty, aching feet and shoulders, I didn't sleep well but had better spirits by morning.

Day 5 - 12 Dec 2013  Baraba Ridge to Paxton
I packed up and took off towards the Congewai Valley, which on the map showed beautiful blue bits that I convinced myself to be lakes of fully potable water. Heading down hill in the cool morning was a relief. I rationed my walking with 5 sips of water each half-hour, but soon noticed I was cheating by sometimes having a full swallow instead of a sip, so I changed it to 10 micro-sips which were easier to measure. Each sip was bliss.
As I got thirstier I started to fantasize how cold beer felt at the back of the throat. I thought I would go to Paxton which is half way up to Pokolbin and maybe stay at the pub.

Around mid-day I came to a sign indicating drinking water, and was relieved to find an old shack with sweet, sweet water in the tank. I rested, filled myself and all my bottles. On the track again and feeling good but still thinking about a cold beer at Paxton Pub.

Congewai Valley is beautiful. I climbed a fence and turned north onto Congewai Road; it felt good to walk on a level surface.
After a while I got a lift in a ute for the last bit into Paxton. The guy turned out to be a land owner who owned the shed I had found and recently had replenished the water in the tank. We had a great talk about life, walking, water, beer, cattle, land, water, and beer.
Paxton Pub looked fantastic, completely original, and I can still remember the feel of the first sip at the back of my throat.

Day 6 - 13 Dec 2013  Rest day at Paxton
I stayed a day at Paxton Pub to fulfil my fantasy during the dry march over the Watagans. Had a real bath, slept in a bed, had a few beers, met some characters, washed my clothes, rested my feet.... bliss.

No comments:

Post a Comment