There's no pretending this trip was a success. Not sure where my head is at to post 5 entries on a 2 and a bit day's walk but I was feeling typey...
After resting on the lawn outside the Otway Light Station I needed to make a decision. Would I continue along the walk or quit now while I had the possibility of getting a lift back to town?
Up until now there had been a school group a couple of hours behind me for each section I had walked, they were camped close by each night. Close enough for me to know they were around and it was reassuring that if I had an accident they would likely find me.
If I chose to continue I would be travelling through more remote parts of the park and from my discussion with the ranger, it was clear that there was absolutely no one else on the trail, either in front or behind me. You can only hike The Great Ocean Walk in one direction, East to West. I did not like the prospects of travelling alone in such bad weather.
Even at the Light Station there was no public phone, no mobile reception and no means of communicating with the ranger. I was feeling less than positive about my prospects of completing the walk.
One of the school leaders offered me a ride back to Apolo Bay in his ute but I was determined to keep going so I thanked him for the offer then proceeded 600 meters along the track to the Hikers camp ground. I found it difficult to get to the camp as there were a few busted tea tree limbs hanging across the path... not a good omen. When I got to the camp it was wet, my gear was wet too.
I took off my leach bite shoe and sock, they squelched with the sound of thickly congealed blood sticking to leather and wool. I could smell the blood. The wound was small but my socks were disgusting! I looked down at my feet and could see bruises forming under the nails...
I considered the potential for my feet giving out or the sleeping bag becoming ruined by water and decided there was too great a chance of me being stuck on that trail and not being able to get out until the ranger realized I hadn't reported finished in five more days.
It was then that I decided to quit the trail!
I legged it back to the car park, had a quick word with one of the adult leaders of the school group, sured up a lift back to Apollo Bay and sat back on the grass and lolled in that terribly no man's land between relief and regret!
My trip home was quite fluky. We got to Apollo Bay Information Centre exactly 45 minutes before the bus to Geelong was due. I booked my tickets through to Melbourne and then sat at the bus shelter and watched rain clouds rolling over the hills and blasting Apollo bay with an icy cold spray of mountain rain while I waited for the bus.
|The brisk refreshing delight of Otway coastal rain|
|Apollo Bay Bus shelter|
Arrived at Geelong station with 10 minutes grace, enough time to hobble to the Melbourne bound platform and before I knew it I was on the train... At Southern Cross I switched tracks to the Hurstbridge line and my train arrived within 10 minutes. I can't remember exactly what time I got back to mum and dad's place but it was a dream run... From the time I arrived at the Light Station until the time I was was soaking in a hot bath was something like 7 hours.
The weather remained bad for hiking for the remainder of the week. I don't mind hiking in the rain, even if it's cold but I was not equipped to for wet nights. My down sleeping bag would have failed miserably and I would have been freezing. I am sure I made the right decision but can't help working through various scenarios that would have allowed me to complete the walk.
Today 7 days later did we have a beautiful cool and sunny day.
One major failing of this track is the fact that you must book your camp sites in advance and there aren't any options for altering your schedule while on the track. If I could have deferred for a couple of days I would have found a way to complete the track in sections or at least taken a day's rest while I replace my sleeping bag.
I will return to The Great Ocean walk and I WILL complete it!