Out in the Back Country by Hugh Brown
This morning has been hard also because I have had to carry Kanch's food. He was getting quite distressed, but now he's okay and it's me that has to lug all the gear. I can tell you, it hurts. The presence of the flies at the bottom of the gorge was distressing and ultimately forced our retreat to the rim. The views, and reflections, however will remain with me for a long time to come. The heat at the top of the gorge was also difficult and the shade afforded by a lone boab near the gorge rim, proved insufficient to enable the enjoyment of valuable sleep.
The Boab is found in Australia most commonly in the Kimberley and the following provides an illustration as to their unique appearance, albeit having been taken in a different location. It was at the base of another tree that the sound of a light plane emphasised our sense of isolation and brought home the fact that it was just Kanch and me.
"The isolation just hit home. A light plane flew high overhead. It hit home because you know there's nothing you can do to make contact. Itís just another noise in the wilderness. The first sign of man apart from the odd International jet tracers. I'm getting a bit nervous. The heat is oppressive today and there are clouds building up. We just have to negotiate three miles around the gorge rim. The challenge is not to panic and want to get to the destination too quickly. Better to wait until the sun drops low around 1600. Three hours to go. Quite dehydrated. Got three pints of water with me though".
It is difficult to describe the decision-making process in situations such as the above. The need to rest is tempered by a desire to reach water and the realisation that water will not be achievable for some unknown, but lengthy, distance to come. Decision-making in such cases can be anything but rational, regardless of how fortunate it may later prove.
"Well, folks, we didn't panic, but my adrenalin got the better of me. We moved half a mile and now have a nice shady spot, which is much cooler. In 2 hours we will have as much water as we want. The challenge is to ration the water that we have until we reach that point. That will not be easy with the gear that I am carrying".
"I dumped some gear just before: clothes, powdered milk and dog food. I figure that Kanch and I can share my food until we reach the next food drop and, if necessary, I can catch some fish. Hard work, but my spirits have risen and Kanch seems to be oíkay. I'm praying that he can hold out until we reach water. As the sun drops, we will really go for it. Took a nasty fall before in some Spinifex and took a fair bit of bark off my leg on a boulder. As I said, I expect this section to be the hardest of the trip because we cannot consume much water in the process".
Together with dehydration, the symptoms of exhaustion proved a major obstacle. Things that one would accomplish easily in daily life become major tasks and it was imperative to ensure the direction of full concentration to every step. The onset of nightfall saw our arrival at water in a tributary of the Charnley as the sandstone changed in colour from a washed out orange to a fiery red colour. Nearby, the following faded example of what appeared to be a Barramundi painting was present. Upstream, was the brutal gorge around which I had detoured.
Tributary of the Charnley
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