Thursday, October 2, 2008

Expeditions with Kids, Dolphins at Noosa

Just been on 2 weeks off, which I needed after several weeks of camps, with several expedition-style ones (15 hour days). It gets a bit wearing on expeditions sometimes, being with clueless and noisy kids (as regards camping etc) after a while. Oh to be with experienced scouts or similar...
Aussie kids are disturbingly urbanized for the most part, although there are always a few (girls and boys) who stand out as having some experience of camping and walking, or at least some initiative.
I remember in particular a 12 year old girl on my lake Tinarro 5 day exped (near Cairns), who had a real poise, fitness and was always helping out. It turned out she was a school athlete, and had been to NZ several times, doing 3-5 day treks with her parents. She was streets ahead of the others in self-confidence, maturity. Streets ahead of a lot of 15 year olds, actually.

On one expedition I did near Mt Barney area again (which I nicknamed Tour de Moogerah 08, as we were riding bikes half the time, around Lake Moogerah), the 14 yr old kids had to carry packs, in which many brought super-heavy big no-no stuff like nutella jars, custard pots, 80 wet ones (yes 80) and other items which had me jumping up and down, asking them to eat or offload stuff before we did our mega-uphill hike up to 1000 m altitude, on pain of several of them collapsing with exhaustion.

They did offload a lot of stuff, with me fishing interesting things out of the garbage bag - such as custard pots, nut and sultana packets etc, which I eat or kept for later.
Another coming the opposite way to us got lost and had to spend a night out on a ridge, without water... It turned out most of us had been given very sparse route instructions, and even incorrect ones on occasion...

The day before last we arrived early at our campsite at 350 m altitude and rapidly set up the tents as it was raining. After a bit of a break and a hot chocolate, I set about reconnoitering the route for the next day, as i did not want to get lost on the last day. I spent 3 hours running up and downhill on 4WD tracks, finally finding a very steep faint track up a ridge and almost getting up to the 1000m mark we were to get up to the next day. I only just found the track, and ran back in the rain and dark with my headtorch.
The next day the kids performed well, and the weaker ones held out well with no complaining. They cheered as we saw the parking where the bus was to pick us up.

Temporarily Lost in the bush:

On the latest 5 day expedition, on a huge property with ridges at 500m altitude near Mt Barney, we spent 8 hours walking on tracks and on steep untracked terrain. I went down an incorrect ridge and as I worked out where we likely to be from the steep terrain around me and the map, I decided we needed to traverse across to another, visible ridge. it was 4pm (it gets dark at 530) and the kids were dead tired. I did mention we might have to spend the night in the bush (with little water and no tents, but sleeping bags). However we did our traverse on rocky and steep terrain, arrived the correct ridge and finally arrived at the tents, water, food drop just as dark was falling.

Other groups had similar problems. It moments like that when you wish you had a small GPS, so as to get an exact fix on your current location. I was lucky to have a fit and understanding teacher - Gil the Canadian, who was also on that camp, was less fortunate.

The day after the end of this exped, Gil and I hiked 7 hours return up to the summit of Mt Barney (1300m). it was very pretty, with many wildflowers, mist. But also very steep, and we should have given ourselves a day off. I ended up with a sore throat for several days.

Dolphins at Noosa:

I had a real Noosa moment recently. Walked along the beautiful coastal track, past Pandanus, wildflowers, paperbark, Goanas, incredible beaches and national park. Got around the point, and was hit by a strong wind. Walked down a semi-cliffy area to watch the big swells coming in. Just as I stopped to look, I saw a pod of dolphins riding a swell. Once in a while one of them jumped out as the swell pushed them past me. In a few minutes they had disappeared. Wow ! I felt they had put on the show just for me.

I often go to the Nat Park (7 minutes by bike) to Run , or swim 1 km or more at sea. I come back invigorated by the exercise and beauty.

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