That first night was a cold, cold night. Even sleeping in full length skins, a polar fleece top and 2 pair of socks, inside my sleeping bag I was still cold. Luckily there were heaps of us crammed into a guest house to try and stay warm and dry. It was difficult trying to sleep snuggled between so many bodies and keep my foot elevated to try and keep the swelling at bay. I woke about a billion times and eventually gave in and had some nurofen in the middle of the night to get some sleep in anticipation of the big day ahead of us.
Fortunately overnight the rain stopped and we woke to an amazing sunrise.
However our clothes didn’t get a chance to dry so it was a case of taking off warm dry bed clothes and put on wet soggy hiking gear! The paramedic strapped me up, and dosed me up before we set out for the day.
First stop was Isurava Memorial where we had a ceremony to recognise the sacrifices made by the soldiers as they fought along the Kokoda Track.
As beautiful as it was at Isurava we didn’t stay too long knowing that we still had about 10 hours of walking ahead of us. We stopped at Surgeons Rock to learn of the brave soldiers who passed through the area to be triaged after injury. It was difficult to fathom how a person could drag oneself through such inhospitable jungle under constant fire and I struggled to control my emotion whilst listening to the journal passages that were read out. To say I was more than ready to keep on walking would be an understatement.
The walk continued as did the injuries.
I wasn’t the only person in need of the paramedic’s attention!
We made a few detours off the main track to see sights of relevance during the Kokoda campaign, one of which was a lookout held by the Japanese that was abandoned with many of the debris from war left in place.
Finally it was time to stop for lunch and for some a quick bathroom break. One not so lucky trekker took a tumble when looking for a bathroom and landed on this pretty looking plant.
It turns out that the plant she landed in is used by the locals as a natural ‘deep heat’. When used correctly it has warming properties that can soothe aches and pains, when one inadvertently lands on the plant it causes huge welts and itching, again another injury that required the paramedics attention. (By now I was feeling much better about my own injury!)
I was really hoping to get into Templeton’s before nightfall but unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case. We walked for an hour or so by the light of our headlamps. Luckily spirits were high and we sang and joked most of the way into camp, happy to be sharing in the great company of fellow trekkers. Whilst it was a long and physically challenging day, emotionally it was a great day and much easier than the same walk last year. Despite being injured, I was enjoying the trek so much more the second time around.