Picture of the Day 17: first sunlight over Gilmore
Merry holidays! Or merry working, if you’re like me and work all the time (and love it)!
Today I walked to the small town of Adelong from my family’s place in Tumut, a distance of 20.4km. My mother, who spent a lot of time in her school holidays in Adelong once upon a time, thought I was crazy. They all said I was mad! But despite heavy storms during the night, at 4.30am sharp, I was up out of bed and ready to go.
…Sax however, was not as keen.
He slept in while I had breakfast (sausages for me and ham for Sax), drank plenty of water and finished packing the bags. Reasoning I’d have to pack water for both Sax and I, and he drinks about as much as I do, I carried about 2.4 litres. We left so early to avoid the heat of the day, which at the moment is around 35 o Celsius, add another 15 or 20 degrees to that for the road itself.
So! On our way. Outside was warm and black as pitch. I wore the interesting combination of a sleeveless shirt, a high-visibility vest, and sunscreen. Sax stopped at every tree and bush, to the point I dubbed the hike ‘Sax’s Botanical Tour: Tumut to Adelong’. For the first half hour, our view was limited:
But then the sky began to clear, and we were left with a beautiful if overcast dawn, breaking just as we left the town behind us.
About six kilometres into the hike, I chanced to espy money scattered all over the roadside. It’s always exciting to find gold coins that aren’t yours but have no apparent owner, but even more exciting was the prospect that this was better loot than I usually find, leading to the suggestion that I had levelled up. Soon I except to find flawed emeralds and iron swords. I will keep you up to date with this development as it unfolds.
Although it begs the question: if I find better loot than previously because I’ve levelled up (in hiking?), then is it because I am now endowed with the ability to see better loot than I could before – as in, the loot was invisible before now? Or is there a guy out there, you know, a guy who is employed just to drop good loot where higher-level hikers will find it? Do these people exist? Can I become one? Where’s my sword?
We continued on to the Batlow turn-off. Between photos and Sax’s need to pee on everything, we averaged about 4km an hour, and that was consistent all day. Immediately after the turn-off, we stopped for our first proper break, in a gravel deposit. Perhaps worried that we had been exiled from the pack, Sax pulled this face, looking back the way we came:
The bridge we had to cross to continue on our way was quite narrow, so when the coast was clear, we ran across. While the sun was up, it was behind the clouds, and we hadn’t yet seen sunlight. That was soon to change, however, as we came around the esses onto the Gilmore Plain, to this:
Two kilometres along this road, about 9km into our hike, the going got tough. Now the sun was up, it was getting hot. The flies were persistent. Sax hasn’t walked or gone so hard in months, and I resorted to carrying him to rest his feet. He’s a noisy animal when he wants to be, and he flopped in my arms, making the most horrendous grunting noise, like a walrus playing the flute. However he refused to rest for long (and was quite embarrassed by being seen in such a state by passing cars), and after a rest at the 13km mark, he was back to his usual energetic self.
With the creek, the plains were behind us. With only 7km to go, it was pointless to turn back. We’d been walking for three and a half hours. The land began to rise, into the gapped hill into Adelong Valley.
A third of the way up the hill, shortly after the 15km mark, Sax and I planned to take our third break. However, we had just sat down when a car rolled onto the gravel shoulder. A man, Jeff, hopped out, and sprang to the boot. His back right tyre had just about shredded on the way down the hill. I’d been offered a lift twice so far on the hike, and figured this was a good chance to repay the genial spirit. I helped changed the tyre (being of marginally more use than Sax) and wished Jeff a merry Christmas of fishing, and we were on our way again.
I won’t lie: I like hills. It’s my odd skill not to be worn out by an increasing gradient. Sax, disagreeing vehemently with this, prompted us to pause every hundred metres or so as we made the final ascent. Although he was very well watered, and had stopped a few times to wallow in pools left by last night’s storm, I was worried that he was fast becoming exhausted. He’s a young dog, and used to hiking and canyoning with me, but living with my less vigorous parents for the past few months has taken the edge off his fitness. I let him stop where he would, only for thirty seconds at a time, and urged him on with a “Ready?” If he started walking of his own volition, then we continued. If he needed to rest more, we stayed longer. In this way, we crested the hill, and stopped for a morning tea of gingerbread and water.
Cheeky bugger spat out his gingerbread. Don’t you know that’s a sin, Sax? God’s favourite food is gingerbread. Wasting it makes him cry.
Sax, an atheist, wasn’t worried. We spent five or ten minutes on the hilltop, then continued between the peaks, before coming across the wonderful, beautiful, incredibly brown sign which signalled the final leg of the hike, and our descent.
And into the valley we went!
I carried Sax down a lot of this hill, as he was well and truly spent. But our spirits lifted as the town swum up around us, and I let Sax off his lead to run across the park to the swinging bridge, where we crossed the river into town.
Have you ever seen a prettier sight? Outside what was once the Swinging Bridge Cafe, Sax and I waited for our lift. As we waited in the shade, aching and triumphant (Sax undoubtedly wondering which of the houses was now ours), a lady walked by and said, “You two have done well, walking all the way from Tumut!” She, like many others, had seen us earlier in the day. I saw no cyclists, and don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone walking that road, and so I suppose her surprise was deserved. 😀
Most other people walked around us, though. Wouldn’t you?
We made it! And today, while we were tired, tonight we are triumphant. 20.4km, 5.5 hours, one girl and a dog proving that craziness is a way of life.