No fear of rain, floods, or leaches would stop this trio from exploring what Queensland's Misty Mountains has to offer. It's during these times when bonds fuse to unbreakable strengths.
One cannot help but bond when being spooned under a makeshift shelter in the middle of the Misty Mountains with the sound of pelting rain to drown out the sound of awkwardness.
June 7-9, 2014 was always supposed to be a weekend of bush camping, however this wet season has seemed to drag on months longer than welcome. The result was a mass exodus of interested participants in the planned Misty Mountain adventure; even I had decided to pull the pin just 24 hours prior to scheduled departure. A little bit of grit, a bit of stubbornness, and a little bit of simply being men had us meeting at my place for a gourmet breakfast where the final decision was made to go for it.
With a couple of frivolous stops for food, coffee and chocolate, Lauren, Mark and I made the journey up the Gillis Range, through Milla Milla, and through 10 km of dirt road to the Downey Creek Trailhead. Grey skies and fear of squirming leaches did not stop the three of us from donning our heavy packs and trodding down the path towards the midway point of the trail where we intended to make camp. As we walked, we talked and took in the pure isolation of the natural environment that we were in. The sounds of birds flapping around us, the flow of water rushing by, and the fresh signs of rooting pigs were easily visible in our peripherals. The three of us had already been friends for several months now so conversations flowed easily, except from me as the descent on loose rocks made for a painful trek with two recently twisted ankles. Finally, after 3 or so hours, we came to Downey Creek and with little time at all, the three of us disrobed to our underwear and dove into the refreshing flowing waters. Repeatedly I would fling myself out into the fast flowing current and have it carry me down before I would crawl my way back to do it all over again; I felt like a kid again, free from responsibility, withdrawn from the pressures of corporate responsibility.
I would like to say we stayed in the river, splashing around like silly kids for hours, but in reality the chill of the crisp water and the diminishing daylight gave urgency to the discovery of a suitable camp. It didn’t take long before we found the campsite marked by a post and the tin remains of an old shelter. With the forecast weighing heavily in our minds, our priority was on setting up a shelter suitable for us to prepare meals and enjoy each other’s company. Boy scout mode kicked in and the three of us went around rummaging for anything that we could use for our makeshift home. A few waterlogged logs made up our lounge chairs, a tarp made up the only barrier between the rain and us, and some discarded panels made up our lounge room floor. As night fall came, so did the rain. Lauren, Mark and I sat under our blue roof and ate our re-hydrated pasta cooked on our newly purchased gas stoves and toasted with cups of Japanese Sake. Despite the rain, we were quite happy that our earlier fears of squirming leaches and buzzing mosquitos didn’t turn out to be real. We ended up laying around together talking about everything under the moon ranging from appropriate to inappropriate with no-one around to judge. Before we abandoned our muddy boots for bed, we walked down to the creek to brush our teeth and wash our dinner ware. We were stunned by the beauty of the Misty Mountains at night. We found ourselves surrounded with glowing mushrooms, webs and worms; a sight one would seem only possible in fairy tales. Several failed attempts to capture the show on camera resulted in us wandering around like curious children in an enchanted forest.
The following morning was as predicted, a soggy Sunday. After a lengthy breakfast consisting of gourmet porridge with chia seeds, Lindt chocolate, and powdered milk, the trio trekked with soggy camping equipment back up to the awaiting Triton. We didn't let the pelting rain smother our spirits, and even Lauren (who had never been bush camping before) was elated to win the bragging rights of ‘Most Leeches’ with four. Instead of heading back to the comfort of Cairns, we decided to coax our courage with a large bottle of ginger wine and made our way in the dark through the cane toad lined road to Davis Creek Campground. Although more luxurious than our previous night’s camping, the three of us found ourselves huddled under our gazebo, sitting on a wet tarp and eating two minute noodles and tuna for tea.
What a beautiful part of the world that we live in. Within a few hundred kilometres of Cairns, we have luscious rain-forest, countless outdoor activities, freshly grown coffee, and most importantly, amazing people to share these things memories with. This weekend was not only about getting out and exploring our local area, but also to strengthen the bond between human beings, to understand who those around us are and the paths they traveled to get to where they are today. Despite the weather that had many people retreating to inactivity, this weekend will become one of the many memories that I will forever cherish.