RUN NO. 2236
DATE: 28 JUN 2011
“Beyond the Back Horn”
This week’s run came with a warning from the GM that it wouldn’t be easy. The writing should have been on the wall given the relatively small number of runners and the relatively high fitness level they possessed. However, with only the mildest of qualms, off we set, ready to tackle the ‘two big hills and some heavy undergrowth.’
Going in was quite thick and we headed into a moderate climb. The front horns quickly became a faint Cullen-like blur in the distance while we carefully found a pace. Knowing there were going to be two big hills, turning back after half an hour seemed a good option. Then came the first hill. Having got to the top it seemed that going on would be easier than turning back.
The cool breeze from the ridge was lovely but the difficulty level was soon to get a lot, lot worse. The second hill was intense, seeming virtually vertical. The little engine that could proved inspirational on this hill, “I think I can, I think I can” quickly becoming my mantra.
Having reached the ridge, it seemed that we were on the home stretch. Squelching through several water crossings the air around us began to grow dusky. Looking for the white paper we had been told would show the way out, we were relieved after about the seventh time crossing the creek, to see strips of white. In the half light it was difficult to see that although white, it was possibly not new paper…
Scrambling up the creek bank and thinking we were following paper, it became an attempt to get out before the sun set completely. Soon we were met by tree trunks blocking the path. However, seeing more paper, the sensible thing seemed to be to follow it. Over the logs and through the webs we went. As we lost light, the spider webs became harder to see and seemed to be extra sticky. After climbing over more logs and up and down a gully we checked the paper by the light of key-ring pen torches. What we found were week-old holes and Chinese characters: not the paper we were looking for.
Slowly it dawned that we were somewhat off paper. An aborted phone call later the best decision seemed to be to head for higher ground to try and get some phone reception as well as bearings. By this time, a teeny-tiny bit of worry began to set in. It certainly feels isolating in the dark, disoriented and without any phone reception! After another 20 minutes heading up, a toilet stop and finger cramp from keeping the button on the torch pressed down we were rewarded by bars- Bars of DST! While on the phone we discovered we were back on the original paper- double happiness indeed.
A quick call back to the tent later and we learned the hens were on the way back in. The temptation to go on was more overwhelming than expected and in the fresh night air the night sounds played tricks. After what seemed like a lot longer than the half hour it took, we began to hear the real horns.
Slowly but surely, the on-ons got closer. And there they were, hundred pluses, torches and actual knowledge of where the hell we were. We set off the ‘back way’ to get out. The gradient of the second hill seemed even steeper on the way down. Any pretence of walking went out the window as the track became an impromptu leafy slide. Some of those branches got a bit close and personal…At the bottom it was a case of steady going and careful checks. Legs starting to wobble, it was one last hill and then a comfort stop for one of the hens and finally, four hours after we started, it looked like the night would be spent in 1000-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets rather than zero thread count leaves and insects.
The shout out consisted of unbelievably delish fresh rolls and salads, most welcome at half past nine at night, and the hardy few who stayed on to celebrate the safe return of all hashers.
Lessons learned this week: pen torches are not good in the jungle. Check paper properly before blithely following it. Always charge the phone before going out and not to get bloody lost again!
NEXT RUN: KM 22.7 COASTAL HIGHWAY OPP UBD