Monday, January 15, 2007

The Longest 16km Of My Life

By far the worst thing I had done in 2006 was on the 30th December doing a 16km hike to Bald Head in Albany.

Although, reflecting back upon it, I'm kinda glad I pushed myself and did it... along with my folks.

However, one very important lesson I learnt was to obey the warning signs.

Here's how the trek unfolded...

On the 30th December I woke up and asked anyone if they were interested to go hiking to Bald Head. Everyone thought I was crazy (and they were right), but being the intrepid explorer that I am I decided to go anyway. Out of courtesy I asked my folks if they were up for a long walk and they agreed to do it.

Great! Now I've got some company... and no doubt they appreciated the "alone time" as they probed my thoughts on Karina!

Anyhoo, the Bald Head track didn't seem to daunting initially. I mean, when you look at the sign you can see that it really didn't look like much at all...

- X marks where we are and the dotted line is the path we will take... looks easy doesn't it?

Our first stop overlooked the salmon holes bay... a good spot for fishing (when the salmon are running), swimming, and snorkelling.

At this point I was already beginning to feel the pinch, I began to think twice about possibly going ALL the way, but then I thought to myself - "It probably isn't this bad ALL the way."

And no, it isn't... it actually gets much worse!

In fact, before we proceeded any further we were faced with a strange DANGER sign...

- now there are several things I want you to observe on this danger sign: 1) it should only be attempted by the "fit and well prepared" - I'm definitely not fit, and the only thing I came well prepared with was my brand-new-never-worn-before hiking boots; (2) "Carry ample drinking water" - well I've packed about half a litre that should be enough, surely? (3) "Wear long trousers" - no thanks, my legs are fine; (4) "Do not attempt to return via the beaches" - okay, well for now just keep that one in memory.

After laughing at how ridiculous the sign was I told my folks that we'd be fine and that there was nothing to worry about.

When we passed Isthmus Hill we all had a clear shot of where we needed to get too - this looks waaaay too easy. And they said it would take 6 to 8 hours return trip?? You've got to be kidding me? I reckon we could do that in an hour!

- the end of Bald Head is at the rocky bit on the far right hand side that looks like one of those Hippos on that Hippo game I used to play when I was a kid (I've forgotten the name, maybe somebody knows)

Eventually we reached a point where we just had to catch our breath. This was beginning to get a little tougher than what it seemed, and I for one definitely needed a break. From our stop we could easily now see how far we needed to go. It was easily within reach.

"Do you want to head back?" asked my father to us.
"Hell no," I replied ready to take off.
"Well I know you don't, considering it was your idea," he said, "but mum was sick yesterday and didn't have much to eat at all. We need to check that she's okay with it."

I didn't realise mum wasn't sick the previous day. In fact, everyone had a bout of sickness when we were down there except me! Mum said that we'd just gone on "a little further"... what a trooper.

What made the initial part of our walk easy was that the sun wasn't out. Unfortunately, by the time we hit our third stop the clouds were beginning to thin and we could begin to feel its heat.

While we were enjoying the view a pack of people were returning and remarked at how difficult it was.
"When you get to the steep sandy track you'll be almost there," said one lady panting away.

We thanked her for the warning and proceeded on.

Now initially I thought this was the sandy track that the lady was talking about. Huh? What's so difficult about this? Oh well, at least we were nearly there.

I was wrong again.

The sandy track wasn't a track that had sand all around it, rather it was a "steep sandy track" - just as she described. I don't think this photo gives it justice but this was very steep, and I understood why everyone we had passed was panting and sweating like crazy - getting back up this wasn't going to be fun at all!

It only took another 20 minutes until we eventually reached the half-way point. It was quite spectacular, and had there been some swell the strange C shaped rock would have created some great explosions of waves crashing against it.

We took our time at the fourth stop and I found a box filled with pen's and a visitor's book. We all put our heads together and wrote the following...

By now our water supplies had pretty much all been dried up. I conserved a couple of mouthfuls, but it was going to be tough going all the way back. And to think that I at least had some breakfast and a few meals the day before, whereas my mum hadn't eating anything today or the day before!

But we had no choice now. We HAD to turn back and travel the 8km back. And it was painful... especially 20 minutes into it when we had to climb our way back up the steep sandy hill. And just as everyone was puiffng and panting when they had done it - so were we!

Before we hit the hill though my father got the dangerous notion that we should probably try and return via the beach. I mean, it looked so placid and docile.
"I thought the sign said NOT to return via the beaches," added mum.
"Did it?" asked my father, now looking at me.
"I don't know," I groaned, conserving as much energy as I could for the 8km back.
"I reckon we should return via the beaches," he said.
"But the sign said not to," added mum yet again, but with a little more emphasis.
"Yeah, I think mum's right," I added remembering the bottom line on the danger sign, "they said something about it looking tempting but there were unseen hazards, or something."

Thankfully through majority rule we didn't return via the beaches, but we came *this* close as it does look deceptively quicker.

This was our last stop, and it was at this stage that I just couldn't wait to jump into the cool beautiful water of Misery Beach. And I now I could appreciate why they called it Misery beach too - because you're nothing but a misery when you've walked 16km to Bald Head and back!

The water was perfect - and all I did was float (almost out to sea).

And even though we were all sapped without a drop of water anywhere we couldn't help but laugh when we jumped back into the car and saw that we needed petrol.
"Wouldn't it be funny if we broke down and had to walk to the nearest petrol station?" joked mum.

No, that wouldn't be funny at all.


danish said...

Hiking is awesome. But your destination can look deceptively close, can't it? I remember when I hiked the Grand Canyon, I swear it didn't look that hard at all. I underestimated the rock climbing needed and didn't see the 10 inch wide walking paths further on (and we didn't have warning signs, either -_-). So after a few hours, I managed to fall off the canyon--thank God Raph grabbed me and I didn't die. x_x That was definitely scary. Though, it was amazingly gorgeous and I'll never forget it.

Though in your case, I wonder why you were warned against going on the beaches? *scratches head*

Ryan said...

You fell off the Canyon!!!


Yeah, I don't know why were warned off the beaches!? Strangely though, when we started our hike a couple of kids with surfboards were heading back. They didn't look as though they had been in the water (as there was no swell), but they probably would've gone down to the beaches regardless.