Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 6 - Templeton's Crossing #2 > Kokoda Gap > Big Myola > Bomber Camp

I woke last night at 1:00AM - really hot. Then I drifted off to sleep again, but had a series of the most bizarre dreams, which kept me waking and drifting until the alarm went off at 5:15AM. I wasn't going to wait for the 5:30 cooee call, and risk holding people up.

On waking, my stomach was really not right. I packed quickly, got dressed into my sweaty but dry clothes, put some more tape on my foot (this time on the heel which was starting to show signs of a hot spot), and got out of my tent. Then it hit me. I HAD to go to the loo - and quickly. Now, what happened in the loo wasn't pretty. If you don't want to read about how a bloke with the squirts deals with going to a loo which is just a 10cm x 30cm hole in the ground, then skip the next paragraph...

There is something not so glamorous about having the runs when you are wearing skins.
You rush to the dunny - which you discover is a hole in the ground about 10cm x 30cm.
Taking careful aim, hoping the poop doesn't run down your legs into your skins, you relax your butt cheeks.
Nothing happens.
So you give a little squeeze.
The toilet cubicle only has three sides, and sits among 4 others, close together.
Your bum is pointing towards the door.
Just as you squeeze, one of the porters comes looking for a vacant loo - and is staring straight at your straining behind.
Then, all hell breaks loose, as the pent up runs are released.
You miss the hole by about a metre, and almost splash the porters bare feet.
But the only way you know he is there is because of the shout of terror you hear as you just miss him.
You don't care.
The blessed release of letting go.
You then re-aim the constant stream, trying to hit the hole.
You overcorrect, and just miss your skins and your only pair of pants.
As the stream recedes, you are careful to lift your butt that little bit higher, hoping against all odds that those last few drops don't land in your waiting pants.
You look down. Then realise.....
It's finished. But it takes 20 wipes to get your butt clean - and you only brought one roll of dunny paper with you.
You hope against hope that this doesn't continue for another day...

After the blessed relief of the loo, breakfast went down a treat. I was feeling quite a bit better, which was good, because at the briefing we discovered that today we would be climbing to the highest point on the track - through the Kokoda Gap and past Mt Bellamy.

So, no surprises, it was uphill, then uphill, and uphill some more. We started the day at an elevation of 5,800 feet, and climbed to 7,300 feet before lunch. It actually wasn't too bad. I was tired, but not exhausted. I wasn't sore at all. And my tummy, though still churning a little, was much better than it had been for the last couple of days. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said of Sam. He was really suffering all morning, and at lunch only had a tiny serving. He looked a little pale as well. Alex too has started looking a little sad, and has been making some small comments that make me wonder if he is finding the going a little harder. His stomach has been churning like mine for a couple of days. And Catherine is all bright a chirpy, but I get the feeling she is putting it on a little so that she doesn't bring the group down. Paul, the oldest of the group, is going like a champion. Though he doesn't ever look the best in the mornings.

Anyway, I was feeling ok at lunch on the edge of Big Myola. Even better when we were told we could leave the packs where they were while we walked across the "lake" to Myola Guesthouse, then on to have a look at a crashed American P40 Kittyhawk fighter. Sam was feeling pretty crook, so instead of the excursion, he went with some of the porters on to the nights camp at Bomber Camp.

The lake bed of Big Myola (or Myola 1 as it is sometimes called) is on old volcanic crater. It is funny the way that the jungle grows down to a certain level on the edge, then just stops, and is replaced by grasses and reeds. It had been raining all day, and as a result the lake bed was a little wet. By that I mean that we sunk to our ankles in stinking, black, slimy mud with every step we took. I was happy to have brought the ankle gaiters with me - I would have hated to see inside my boots otherwise.

We finally got to the other side of the lake, and arrived at Myola Guesthouse. One of the buildings had recently burnt down. We were told that it was accidentally burnt down by the porters from Adventure Kokoda. Oops. We are also told here that they were expecting us to camp there for the night. Apparently our schedule was different to what Peter had been given. Bugger. They even had a 44 gallon drum of water heating for a shower - which would have been great after a day of walking in the rain! Instead, Peter paid them the camp fees for the night, and we went on to see the plane.

It was a huge engine, with props buried in the dirt. 6 machine guns were still visible - some with live ammo still ready to fire. The rest of it was a shredded mess - you can even still see pieces of the shattered perspex windshield lying amongst the wreckage...

After the fighter, we headed back across the lake. It was getting late, but thankfully the rain was easing. However, we picked up the pace and got back to the edge of the lake where our packs and porters were and had a quick afternoon tea. Then put the wet, muddy pack back on, and headed off to Bomber Camp, which we got to at 5:10PM in the rain.

With the mud everywhere, I decided that I might as well have a wash in the creek, and wash out the clothes. The black, clinging mud was nearly impossible to get out of the clothes - I stood in the creek for almost 30 minutes trying to get the clothes and myself clean. It didn't help when the boys told us to be careful, as the water was polluted by toilets upstream. Ah well - better to wash in pooey water than have it in your pants I suppose.

Bomber Camp itself was really beautiful. There were all sorts of flowers planted expertly, as though the place had been designed by an award winning garden designer from Sydney. And, thankfully, the pit toilets had the green barrels for seats - I never thought I'd be so happy to see them!

As soon as I finished washing in the fast fading light, the rain stopped. But, with the amount of rain during the day, there wasn't a lot of wood, so there was no chance of getting the clothes remotely dry. Sam went to bed before 6:00PM, without dinner. By 7:00, we heard a terrible heaving sound coming from inside his tent. Yep, he had a big spew. Then a couple more for good measure. Paul rushed to his aid. We were pleased to hear that Sam had a plastic bag ready, so the inside of his tent didn't look like this mornings loo. Sam got up with a bit more colour, saying that he now felt much better. Hope he still is in the morning!

We were all in bed by 8:00, once again listening to the sound of rain on the tent. It seems a bit colder tonight, so I've done the hood up a bit - will put on the thermals during the night if I need to.