By Anthony Baker, 24 September 2022
The plan for bushcraft was action-packed: there was gonna be bushbashing, river crossing, star gazing. We should have known that things might turn out differently when Kathleen couldn’t find the compasses.
On the walk in from Catchpool Valley we passed a school group – one of their party had fainted. Thankfully, the Rescue Helicopter was already there and a competent paramedic had the situation under control. He asked for some “strong men” to help carry the stretcher down the steep and muddy Jacob’s Ladder, which we were happy to do (and not only the men), working in concert with some other trampers already at the scene. Even though it didn’t feel like much I think we can be proud of ourselves.
Not long after, we set up the flies in a flat patch pretty close to Big Bend. Soon it started raining. We all huddled in Kathleen’s tarp for shelter, as that had been established as “the party tent”. The rain dashed a lot of our hopes to do bushcrafty things like bush bashing. But not to worry – instead, we spent several fruitful hours making friendship bracelets with the paracord Alex had brought.
In the meantime, the rain was coming down hard. It was at this point that we discovered that some of the flies were leaky. Water was coming through. People’s sleeping bags were getting dripped on. In a stroke of good fortune Tommy mentioned that some people could stay at his family hut. The majority of the group set off, abandoning the rest of us to our fates.
We fly-overstayers spent the rest of the day glued in the same position, our legs going numb. Nachos was for dinner, although sadly without cheese. Our night in the fly was not tooo uncomfortable although three of the group had chosen to lie sideways across their three sleeping mats. Why? Good question. I was worried Kate might roll in her sleep and push me onto the dirt (luckily, she didn’t). A couple of the pegs of the fly came undone in the middle of the night, so that it sagged close to our faces.
We woke up to Kathleen telling us that the river was high, and the others didn’t feel comfortable crossing it– they were looking for another way across. We had visions of being stuck there for a day or more, calculating if we had enough provisions. But it was all good in the end. The others somehow made it across. We were happily reunited, and took a photo showing off our friendship bracelets, and on the way back Jo pointed out some plants. Maybe we can do bushbashing next year.