Jeff's Walk




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Diary/Notes/Thoughts/Photos for upcoming book

Day 2

   Day 2 Friday April 6th

   Up early and packed up except the radio. Antenna still up for a try at 8am. But the battery hardly had enough energy to run the receiver so I packed that up as well. 17 degrees at 6am this morning and although I am a “hottie” and I remember that 17 degrees was when I considered it was getting a bit chilly, it felt ok. I recorded in my diary that I still had 6 litres of water and that would see me for the next 3 days. I expected to top up my supplies of water from a dam, waterhole or from a sheep station I knew was not far from the road. I set off with the 2 X 750ml water bottles (old Iced Coffee containers, no sunlight getting through to the water) with one of them containing PowerAde powder to keep up my “fluid balance” (and I like the taste for a change). Remember the temperature of the water in the bottle would be called “tepid” and that is being kind.

   So, after a good night’s sleep and feeling pretty pleased with myself I was back on the road again (photo 108) and I am now into a long, flat, treeless walk. There were some trees off in the distance, but they were “thin on the ground“ and more like shrubs. I heard a train on the track which was no longer beside the road at this time but a fair way over towards the Flinders Rangers. See photo 109. A week or so later near Hawker, there was a serious derailment. The local Hawker Hotelier, John Starling, invited me to join him and some friends one morning to go look but they all slept in after sitting up all night having a beer or two. This line carried the coal from Leigh Creek which is 250km to the north. The coal is used to feed the power stations outside Port Augusta which generate the power for the SA electricity grid. This train was returning to Leigh Creek after emptying its load in Port Augusta.
   There were strong winds today, I reckon gusting to 25kph. The solar panel was blowing all over the place and I had been worrying about the lack of power in the batteries, so I changed it from the back of the pack to hanging it around my neck and let it sit on my chest where I could hold it if the wind caught it. It was then that I realised that, as I was walking North, the solar panel would have been mainly in shadow while it was on my backpack. With it around my neck and on my chest the north sun was falling on the panel. I would be walking towards the north for the whole trip so that is where it should have been from the start. Maybe this is why the battery pack is not charging (more later…).

   I stopped for a rest under a low (2 meter) tree (shrub) at about 10am and I had walked only 7km. I was definitely not on schedule to get to Hawker with my current food supply so I will have a think at lunch time. The flies are extremely annoying and I have no repellent with me. It is 26 degrees and walking when out of condition in this temperature will certainly drop a kilo or 2. I was 87 kilos when I left Bill’s place about 2 weeks back and I may have even added 1 or 2 since then while visiting rellies. I reckon a reasonable weight for my frame would be 80-82 kilos so losing a bit wouldn’t hurt. The wind has dropped but only a bit and is coming in from the east. I tried the phone and have 2 bars on the antenna indicator so I sent an SMS to Bill.

   I crossed a couple of creek beds with no water or even damp spots but really admired the giant river red gums, see photos 110 and 111. They have magnificent shapes and colouring (and produce dense shade). I finally called it a day 17kms from last nights camp as the crow flies. With a few bends in the road, I probably travelled 20kms in total. I camped at the turnoff to Narcoona station which was several kilometers off the road that I was following. The creek was Thompson Creek and showed considerably on my map but there was no sign of water and I don’t see how the early explorers would know where to dig as the creek bed was strewn with rocks. There was yet another river red gum and I took a couple of shots of this. They are photos 112 and 113. This camp was at 32:13.669 137:52.156 and tonight I’ll have a serious look at the maps as I think I saw a track crossing the Flinders and I would be able to backtrack down about 10km to the township of Quorn. If this is possible, I will abandon trying for Hawker as I am travelling much too slowly to get to Hawker with my supplies. I could certainly make it but this is not supposed to be an endurance test or emulate the hardships that the early explorers tolerated. But it is a steep learning curve as this is only day 2!

      Leigh Creek coal train    Red River Gum    Red River Gum

   All the AA batteries in the pack are now measuring low so I will now put 4 from the camera, 4 camera spares and 2 of the best ones of the original pack. I am now charging the mobile phone using the car charger connected to the 12V pack with alligator clip leads. There is still some signal in the phone so I will be able to talk to Bill tonight. I will only try a short attempt using the radio as that would be a drain on the inadequate battery pack and I doubt that I would get through.

   I have developed a blister on the outside of the big toe on my left foot. It is a bit bigger than a 5 cent piece so I will need to keep an eye on it. Otherwise I am feeling pretty good, well I guess I mean that I have no soreness although the pack feels heavy after the first half hour or so. However, even a break of 15 minutes relieves the shoulders.

   Not feeling hungry so I just had a cup of cold soup tonight. My records show that there were 10 cars today but I don’t remember there being that many on this stretch of road. I will check with Bill and see what I reported as traffic levels for that day. I set up the radio but did not try very hard to avoid flattening the batteries.

   After I had settled in for the night, I checked the map and there is definitely a track through the ranges. It is named Thompson Gap and I will go a kilometer or so north and follow a road to the base of the Flinders. I have decided to cross over tomorrow and head into Quorn.

   And I thought all this was pretty exciting. But day 3 was hotter, harder, remoter, more exhausting and on the night of day 3, I got stoned!!

Tomorrow I cross the mighty Flinders (and find real trouble)