Saturday 16th July. By Jodie.
I thought we would be blogging about idyllic days in the wilderness, about relaxing in beautiful surroundings in the sunshine, with snow capped mountains, clear streams and spectacular sunsets. But this hike to Donjek Glacier has been the toughest we’ve ever done by far. It wasn’t a warm up hike to kick off our 6 month sojourn. It was an adventure that wiped all traces of Shanghai city life from our systems. We haven’t seen anyone else for the past 10 days. We are battered, bruised, scratched, blistered. We are lean, strong, toughened up and able to accomplish anything.
We’re ecstatic when we see Kam & Hoonah waiting for us at the Duke River carpark. We know they expected us yesterday at a different exit point and we had no idea that Kam could track us with the spot. But she assured us she could see us on line and figured out we would come out this way. Thanks Kam!
This morning we set the alarm! And we were hiking at 5:30am. It would be a 12 hour day. First we have to make it to Granite Creek. We follow a faint trail through the bush for most of the way. These trails are a godsend, 3 times faster and 10 times more pleasant than bush bashing. The trail takes us high above the Duke River canyons for beautiful views, but then we lose the trail and have to bush bash our way to the creek.
Glad to reach the creek, we face our next challenge. It’s too high to cross. We start upstream looking for a safe crossing. There are high cliffs to climb up. It’s kind of soul destroying by now. We keep trying to cross but the water is too strong. Finally, after hours of trying, I cross without my pack. Paul heroically throws both packs across and follows.
Glad to be across the creek, our next task is to find Granite Creek Cabin, which is situated near a track that will lead us out. We study the map and track notes but they don’t tell us exactly where the cabin is. In front of us is a steep hill and no trail. We start bush bashing our way through, for several kms of needle in a haystack searching. We don’t ever find the cabin but we do find the track.
Glad to find the track, we finally feel we’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel. 7kms of track, then 5kms of gravel road to the highway, oh joy. But to our dismay, the track is more accurately described as a 7km long swamp. Undaunted, we wade through knee deep water and mud. Rain clouds appear and start moving towards us. With 12 hours of walking in wet boots, there’s no stopping us now.