There was a lot more rain around overnight, and again I stayed toasty dry in my tent. Especially as this time I took care to tension the guy lines in the right direction, so no sagging and pooling this morning.
It was still raining when I woke up in the morning, so I had breakfast in bed. Not quite as decadent as it sounds - just a practical way of keeping me and my gear as dry as possible for as long as possible.
When I got up, I chatted briefly with the other guy at the campsite. He had stayed pretty dry as well, but he had a flat tire on his 4WD and was pretty unimpressed at the number of broken bottles lying around. His friend had departed after dinner the previous evening, so he was there with just his young son. Still he had an air-compressor to re-inflate his tire, so he was pretty confident he could get himself out.
I thought it wise to check him again before I set out, and his situation had worsened. He had burned out his plug-in air compressor, and somewhere along the line the vehicle had been modified larger tires and elevated shock absorbers, so his factory-supplied jack now had insufficient height to lift his vehicle. And to add to this, he had managed to flatten the battery of his cell phone the previous night.
So he was going nowhere, and he couldn't call out for help. The battery on my phone was fine, but I couldn't get a signal (different network). So we went for a walk along the ridgeline, trying to get a signal on my phone, but sadly no luck with that.
I offered to walk out, and make a call on his behalf as soon I as I could get a signal, so we walked back to his car so that he could write down the number for me. As he did so, I happenned to notice his brand of cell phone was the same as mine (Nokia), and it suddenly occurred to me we could swap the batteries. After pulling the back off our phones, it turned out the battery sizes were slightly different. But then a second thought struck me - why not swap the thumbnail-sized SIM cards (which identify the phone number and account to the network). So we did this, and within a few seconds of inserting his card into my phone, he was getting a signal. I had wished I had thought of this earlier, as we could have saved 30 minutes of time.
He called his wife, and the conversation went something like this:
"Hi honey. I've got to be really brief, as I'm borrowing someone else's phone. But I've got a flat tire, and I'm stuck up here."
"No, no, we're both fine, but can you please call Johnno, and tell him what has happenned, and then get him to pick up my spare tire and inflate it to 45 psi, and then go around and borrow Adam's high-lift jack, and bring them all up to me at the campsite?"
"Ok, gotta go, I'm on someone else's phone."
I didn't hear his wife's reaction, but I was pretty sure that he was not just going to cop a fair bit of derision from Johnno and Adam, but also an earful from his wife when he got home.
Still, I was now comfortable that help was on the way for him, and could now set out myself.
I had quite a long walk in front of me, and the morning's Good Samaritan act had set me back a bit, so I really put the hammer down in terms of pace. And at this stage, I was definitely appreciating my lighter pack (20 lbs), as it was allowing me to motor along at just under 3 mph.
I found it interesting that the area I was walking through was considerably wetter and lusher than just a few miles to the south where I had walked yesterday. The trees were taller and closer together, and there was a much greater prevalence of tree ferns, which mainly grow in damp conditions. This was classic temperate rain forest.
So it was hardly surprising that it started raining again. For about 2 hours it came and went very lightly, just enough to dampen my hiking shirt, but not enough to warrant putting on a rain jacket. However, at around 11am it picked up enough that I finally had to put on my jacket, but I was moving fast enough that getting cold was no danger.
I stopped for lunch at the entrance to Big Pat's camping ground on the valley, and I was happily enjoying my peanut butter a flat bread when a car turned up. I chatted briefly to driver, who turned out to be a local high school senior, who was interested in hiking. Anyway, she walked off down the track. A few minutes later a guy reappeared clutching a bag of stuff. He was the dopiest, weediest, most emo guy I had seen in years, and rather uncommunicative. A couple of minutes later, the girl reappeared struggling with a large foam mattress, which I helped her load onto the top of the car. Suddenly all became clear - a weekend of high school lovin' in the bush (senior exams start in a few weeks, so this may well have been the "last chance dance". But God knows how a guy like that ever pulled a chick like her. Another couple of minutes later and another pair of teenagers turned up out of the bush, and I took this as my cue to leave.
I still had about 5 miles to walk into the town of Warburton, although at this stage I was passing a few houses set amongst the trees. One elderly local gentleman was good enough to offer me a lift, but I politely declined on the basis that the whole point of the weekend was to hike.
Warburton is another old timber town which then became a popular holiday destination at the turn of last century. More recently it has acquired a reputation for being a bit alternative, with a Buddhist retreat, "new age" shops selling crystals, organic vegan cafes, etc. But I was just glad that it was on the edge of the suburban bus network. Despite it being late afternoon on a Sunday, there was still a pretty regular scheduled service.
But as I waiting for the bus, I made a somewhat disturbing discovery - the town's entire teenage male population was emo. I swear, every single one of them had the same long hair and pathetic look. I don't normally have a problem with long hair, but the entire #$%^ town???
All in all, I was pretty happy this weekend. I had covered a considerable distance, and I was very happy with my new and lighter gear. It is allowing me to go faster, and is easier on my body. I do think I have to think more about nutrition and snacking on the way, as I was feeling rather fatigued towards late afternoon - I figured I had burned something like 2500-3000 calories on each day. I'm definitely going to do this hike again - it's a pretty good training hike!
Total distance covered 25 km 15.5 miles
Total distance for the weekend 70 km 43.5 miles