We heard from the K12s at 6.40pm on Wednesday night – quite literally heard from all of them as I could heard them all chatting and laughing in the background as Alice provided the update. We had nice (relatively) clear reception too, so Al got a fair few details through.
On Wednesday morning they left their Efogi campsite and headed up Brigade Hill. On the top of Brigade Hill, they had a lovely ceremony led by Brian, and Catherine sang ‘Abide With Me’. The porters also sang. In fact, the porters have been singing a lot during breaks; the same 5 songs over and over, so there’s a fair chance the trekkers will have them stuck in their heads for a long time after they depart PNG.
They all walked together down Brigade Hill, and made quite good time. They had a beautiful lunch at the lovely village of Menari, including fresh pineapple. From there, they headed uphill in fairly hot and humid weather – at this point Ben felt the need for speed, and raced up and then down the Wall, so the rest of the group didn’t really see him again until they got into camp – let’s hope he’s saved enough energy for the big ridges yet to come!
They camped on Wednesday night at Aguaro; it is a nice little campsite in a beautiful spot, with lots of little kids running around. The K12s befriended two other trekkers staying at the campsite, who are walking the Track, just the two of them accompanied by two porters. One of those porters currently holds the record for running the Track (17 hours I believe).
The trekkers are all well and in very good spirits. Those who had had a few problems with blisters due to the wet conditions during the Tribute trek are enjoying the much drier conditions, which have allowed their feet to heal. Last night, many of them had a nice wash in the creek, and Sam shared a block of chocolate he’d been saving for a special occasion (which had thankfully survived the camp dog raids on the trekkers’ tents). Ben has encountered a few leeches and Zorana and Julie came face to face with a snake, but otherwise it’s been fairly smooth sailing thus far.
They’re all doing well even after a tough day of walking, and there’s been lots of joking and laughing. Some of them have managed to stay up til 8pm each night, and from what I could hear on the phone last night as I was talking to Alice, they’re having a great time chatting around the camp fire and getting to know each other. Ben is unfortunately on his last camera battery – I passed on everyone’s good wishes for his photographic endeavours; I’m sure he’s going to come back with some amazing shots.
Today they will be climbing Maguli Ridge, a tough hill with 9 false peaks. A fair portion of it is in the open, too, so you don’t have the forest foliage keeping you cool. They will then head down Maguli, and I believe they will then also climb Ioribaiwa Ridge before camping at Ioribaiwa village tonight. Some very steep climbs and descents today, but the end is in sight…
If you’d like to sponsor the team or contribute to the fundraising efforts of a particular trekker, you can visit these pages by clicking on the trekkers name below.
Bernie called at 4.30pm yesterday. The trekkers are all well at Efogi.
Luckily he had better reception yesterday, so he got a decent report through before it cut out.
I did get their approximate location right in the last update; the previous night they were in fact at Digger’s campsite – close to Bomber campsite, and it looks so much like Bomber campsite that when Bernie took Brian to visit the site of the plane wreck, he was shocked to find the crater had disappeared…until he realised he was at the wrong site!
Yesterday they walked up to Kagi Gap; from this point they had a great view of Kagi, Brigade Hill, Maguli Ridge – all the ridges they need to climb over the next few days. Bernie says it was the best view he had ever had from that point, as the view was clear and amazing.
Yesterday they had lots of downhill walking, followed by the ‘glorious*’ uphill into Efogi through the waterfall.
Yesterday, and for the past few days, they have had quite nice weather. Yesterday they had some warm periods which were accompanied by a nice cool breeze (a rare phenomenon on the Track!). The Track has dried up a lot, and they’ve had an excellent walk thus far.
They visited Naduri and had morning tea there. They met Ovuro Ndiki, the fuzzy wuzzy who is reportedly now 108 years old. They had a bit of a sing with him and had their photos taken, and some of the fitter trekkers opted to walk up to a treehouse further up in the village.
Some of the porters who carried Corina on a stretcher last year (including Esko [spelling?] and Kevin) were with them, so they asked those guys to demonstrate how they constructed the stretcher. They agreed to do so, and after the two engineers in the group had certified the stretcher as strong and sound, the boys carried Catherine around on it. Bernie is quite chuffed that they now have photos and videos of how they did it.
They arrived at Efogi at about 1.30pm, allowing them a long, languid afternoon. They enjoyed the opportunity to have showers and dry out some of their gear.
The back-to-back trekkers (Catherine, Sam, Bernie, Lindsay, Julie) are weary but going well. All the trekkers are in good shape, and it sounds like they’re enjoying the walk, the history and each other’s company.
Today they will climb Brigade Hill. I believe that tomorrow night they will stay in Menari, Nauro or somewhere in between.
*’glorious’ obviously being Dad’s description, not mine; in 2005, this day of walking was my ‘bad day’…any of you who have seen the K05 video (i.e. anyone who has ever been to any event associated with this walking group) can probably picture this climb through the waterfall; Dad kindly included lots of footage of me trudging along, climbing up through the waterfall, set to the rather dramatic soundtrack of ‘November Rain’…! :/
My name is Sam Pittolo and I am lucky enough to be a member of Centacare’s Kokoda 2012 Challenge.
Two years ago I participated in Centacare’s Kokoda 2010 challenge and trekked from Owers Corner to Kokoda. Over those seven days on the Track I learnt a lot about myself, but more importantly I learnt about an amazing and inspiring piece of Australia’s history. Ever since I arrived back from PNG that year I have had the urge to go back, to learn more about the place where so many of our brave soldiers gave their lives.
This year I will be hiking the tribute and retreat treks; that is from Owers Corner to Kokoda, from Kokoda to the Northern Beaches and then all the way back again to Owers Corner. While this trip is likely to be the most physical and mental challenge I have experienced in my life I couldn’t image having it any other way. The opportunity to experience as much of PNG as possible was too tempting to pass up. Additionally, the chance to spend 21 days of hard steps, steep hills and deep rivers with my mates was just the icing on the cake.
I’d like to hope that as I step off the plane on the 23rd of September it will be a sense of pride. Not because of my achievement, but because of the achievements of those around me. And the pride in the Australia Soldiers who achieved so much on the track despite the sacrifices required.
You can support Sam’s fundraising efforts by visiting his sponsorship site at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/sam_pittolo