Two pieces of good news this morning. The first was that with more knowledge about my borrowed tent (and more care in putting it up), I was able to stay pretty dry overnight, despite a fair bit of rain. The second is that after a night's sleep, my knee was feeling a lot better - still a little stiff, but none of the pain I was feeling yesterday afternoon.
With ongoing rain, I stayed in my tent for a while, until it eased slightly. However, having had to improvise a camp earlier than I expected yesterday afternoon, I couldn't dawdle too long, as I had to find water, and I set off mid-morning.
After a couple of miles, I was faced with a steeper climb, and somehow this set my knee off again. With the repeat of this issue, I started to realize that even though this was only day 3 (out of 12), that I was unlikely to be able to complete my hike - being out here on my own in the backcountry, more than 30 miles from the nearest help, I am unwilling to take risks with a dodgy kne. So I started formulating plans to head back to Mt Hotham, and then get the bus back home from there. This realization, plus the ongoing rain and general gloomy day put me in a pretty low mood. However, the closest water source was forward rather than back, so I continued to push on.
Reliable water sources are so rare in the Barry Mountains that the National Park Service have had to install a number of rain water tanks along the trail to support hikers, and my next water source was one of these. This was a brand new one, installed just 6 months ago. It wasn't listed in the guide book I was using, but fortunately I had looked up track updates on the internet, and found the new one listed on South Selwyn.
I slowly climbed up the mountain, which was shrouded in cloud. And while my navigation was spot on, it took me nearly 45 minutes of wandering around the summit in a whiteout to locate the water tank, which added to my levels of frustration and overall bad mood.
However, once located, I then had enough water to be able to prepare lunch. As it was going to be my furthest point before turning back, I wanted to enjoy it, and lunch was a fairly leisurely affair. As I sat there enjoying my post-lunch coffee at about 3 in the afternoon, an alternative plan suddenly formed in my mind - instead of turning back, I could continue on. There was a two-wheel-drive-accessible road that I would cross about half way along my intended hike, and I could use my satellite beacon to signal my support crew back in Melbourne of the new pick-up point. Covering only half the distance in the 12 days should mean much less stress on my knee, and this should be manageable.
Intellectually I know all about the effect that a single good meal can have on morale when your spirits are low, but I don't think I have ever experienced it personally in such a way. With a good lunch and a positive new plan, I was suddenly feeling a lot happier.
So after checking my maps and confirming that my new plan was workable, I then descended (slowly) down the other side of South Selwyn (with a full load of water), and set up camp. I didn't cover a lot of distance today, but I was feeling a lot more positive at the end of it.
Total distance covered 5.3km 3.3 miles
Total ascent 256 m 840 feet
Total descent 214 m 702 feet
Sketch map of today's hike