August 10, 2011
Efogi to Menari. We depart Efogi and the morning is misty over the valleys. Today's walk involves up and down a little hill and a big hike uphill passing over Brigade Hill and The Saddle and crossing the Vabuiagi River. Today we hike 5 hours and it is very very steep.
We walked up and across to Brigade Hill, the mist was closing, creating an errie sombre atmosphere. There were 76 stakes in the ground noting the graves of soldiers killed in battle. Their bodies were later removed to the Bamana War Cemetery in Port Moresby.
The Japanese had waited and waited to attack. The Australians wait at the top of Brigade Hill. After a few days nothing happened. At 2am the Japanese attacked. They had made long ladders and lay them up the hill and climbed the ladders which were faster than trying to climb the steep hillside. Near impossible. The Australians were cleaning their weapons when attacked and therefore caught off guard. 76 soldiers were lost.
We walked on. A brighter moment on our next rest break when to our delight we were given Tim Tams ( a chocolate wafer
The airfield at Efogi
Not seeking off the track here either
cookie). True Blue Australian treat. That made are spirits higher as well as our blood sugars. Francine found it a great temporary cure for her sore knees.
After 5 hours we arrived in Menari. We camped next to the airfield and Francine is concerned that Angie might signal for a plane to take her out. But there are no planes sighted.
The village hosted a rice milling as they had a new gasoline powered miller and people came from several villages to have their rice husked. It was a social affair too with many of the women spending time together.
We spend the night in the old wartime hospital, which has four rooms in the hut. Angie has her own room and Karen and Francine share a room. They slept on one side of the room as the floor was sagging badly on the other. Provided another laugh. We could have had our tents set up outside, although all decided to sleep inside. Francine didn't want her porter to have to put her broken tent up again either. And it is so much easier to get changed standing up than lying down in a one girl tent.
The water supply is not working for a few hours. We decide to wash with warm water and soap in a cup. We take it in turns of going to our room to wash. It doesn't sound much but it was very refreshing. The small pleasures in life.
Karen had bought a pack of cards in Port Moresby and brings them out and Fran, Angie, Kylie and Donald cards. Kylie wins.
Right before retiring we heard Kylie yell as she saw two cockroaches in her room, that only means that they had to run somewhere and that would be to our rooms!! ( keep in mind these are the very large Asian ones)
August 10, 2011
Menari to Nauro is a long 8 hour hike. Today we hike up a very steep hill and descent and enter the swampy area. We wear our gaiters over our boots for a good part of the day since we have so much mud to walk in, this area is swampy and lots of mosquitoes too. Bushmans Replenent cream is rubbed in liberally.
Francine is reading the top of her day pack and it shows the
hand signals for getting help from a plane. A "Y" sign with the arms means "Yes, please land" and a diagonal sign with the arms N means "No do not land. Francine is afraid that Angie may use the" Y" sign to escape the jungle. But Angie doesn't want Francine to have all the fun and will stay till the end. And instead they break out in a rendition of YMCA! Just after Francine reads the inside of her back and the signals, a helicopter is heard in the distance. She starts signaling N N.
Francine's knees have begun to be painful due to all the downhill walking and she has had to tape them every day. Anti inflamatories with breakfast and lunch also give relief. Fran knew it would be the case as she has had knee surgery and is missing quite a bit of cartledge from her left knee. So is prepared for it all and knew it would just be part of the trip. The only problem is that it is slowing her down considerably on the downhill sections. Up and across is not an issue at all.
We arrive at the village of Nauro.
The village is almost deserted. The locals have gone to a meeting about the mining and track closures. Nothing is happening or obstructing us so far.
Francine has her lucky day. Angie, Gary, Donald and Kylie are taking it turns to have their cold showers. One of the remaining locals arrives and offers for us to have a hot shower for 10 Kina = $5 aus. Karen arrives and she tell her the exciting news. Karen jumps at the chance too and it glad she had taken her time getting ready for the showers. Karen is first and then Fran is off and ready for a few minutes of bliss. Little did the local know that Fran would have paid 20 kina for a hot shower. Angie arrived back from her cold shower once again. Well at least we were all clean. Washing your hair in hot water is much better though, the shampoo comes out better.
Tonight we played cards and had a really good time. We go to bed really late, 8PM and it's a good night sleep for most of us. The nights have been very cold. Not something you would expect in the jungle.
We have all been rugging up with extra layers of clothes to keep warm.
Angie didn't bring a sleeping bag as she of course didn't think it would be cold. So her sleeping bag liner has all she has had. We have also been filling our water bottles with boiling water to put at our feet. Another idea we used when on the Inca Trail in 2007.
Fran fixed the problem of having bony hips at sleep time and wished she could move some of her tummy padding to her hips. Her new inflatable bed roll hasn't worked since the first night so to fix the problem she has found that padidng her hips with chux wipes down one side of her tights and a towel down the other she can sleep better. She looks like the Michilan Man or Sumo hips. Oh the things we have to do to stay comfy.
So far we are so happy that the dreaded leaches have stayed away from us!!
August 11, 2011
Nauro to Ioribaiwa an 8 hour hike over very very steep inclines and descents. This day is very hard on our bodies and mentally.
The weariness of the constant strain is taking it's toll on our bodies. We are tired.
The going is tough so when we break for lunch next to the river, the chance for a swim is too inviting for Angie and Donald. The others wade in the water to cool off and rest their weary bones. Come on Angie, the water was icy. A hot lunch is tasty with a tuna and onion mix in a light pastry mix. It tastes delicious. And for the Aussies, Vegimite with our crackers.
Francine and Angie are only about 5 minutes behind the others and Angie picks up speed on the downhill portions and Francine catches up on the uphill portions. At this junction we are doing just one step at a time. Francine's knees are aching, lucklily no foot problems. , the fatigue is overwhelming and we can only go at our own pace. For Angie, everything at this point is hurting (especially her feet) and the hills never stop coming at us.
After eight hours, we finally arrive at the village of Ioribaiwa. There is a memorial here for the battle that took place where the Japanese finally
begin to retreat as they ran out of supplies and their men were starving to death and plagued with disease. The Australian were able to push the Japanese all the way back to the coast and out of PNG.
Angie and Francine opt to have their tents set up in the hut as it is a little warmer and we like the privacy to change clothes and not have to squirm around in our little one girl tents. The tents are also set up in the middle of the village, so people are walking around and through. Tonight is another cold shower and by this time is beginning to feel refreshing. Tonight we watch a pretty sunset out across the mountains towards Port Moresby. Dinner is a yummy pasta dish. We retire around 7:15 and a well deserved night of rest.
There are dogs and chickens everywhere and the roosters love to crow day and night. Karen gave the cards to the porters and they play all night long. A little noisy but we are extra tired and find sleep easily enough.
We talk about being tired, and the challenges, although within minutes of having a break
Symbols of Loss
The posts, represent each soldier lost on the hill, during the battle. All lost solider's remains were moved to Port Moresby in the 1940's
or arriving at our nights village, we are all smiling, laughing and making jokes.
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