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Published: August 20th 2011
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel
Aged 103. It was an honour to meet him. Fran shed a tear. Angie kissed his cheeks and brighten his smile
August 6, 2011
Denaki to Alola - 8.5 hour trek
Denaki was the campsite last night and today we trek to Alola. Up at 5 am in the dark, stumble down to the loo in the dark. Angie was not aware that there was always a porter escort anytime we got up in the night and she just took a few paces to the side of the tent and went to the bathroom. I am sure the porters were shocked but Angie was oblivious to their watching. A new meaning to a full moon.
We all packed up and had breakfast, weetbix, nutragrain and warm milk. Coffee and we are off for an 8.5 hour trek through the mountain jungle. The climb is steep with creek crossings, through the many choko fields on the hillside, and lunch at the Isurava village. The climb was hard but we were told over and over again to walk at our own pace, we all took breaks when we needed to and also when the porters stopped for official breaks.
There was a war memorial at Isurava to commemorate the bravery and the courage of those brave men fighting the
Japanese in such difficult circumstances. The stone pillars represent Mateship, Courage, Sacrifice and Endurance. We can all relate to those attributes after climbing very difficult terrain to get to this point. The trek to the Alola Village from here is what the Natives call flat. We quickly learn the flat in Pidgin really means, you will climb up and down very steep hills but they will not be mountains. So our afternoon hike is (flat) to the village. Alola was a staging post for the Australian solders.
We meet our new personal porters who walked from Port Moresby area (Owens Corner) in 2 days and nights (90km) to meet up with us. They then turned around and walked that same stretch of the track that would take us another 7 days to complete. The porters were exhausted but they did not show it in their service to us. They were so very helpful in every way.
The porters would carry our large packs and set up our tents every day. They cooked our meals and cleaned our boots. They made sure that we didn't fall or slip when hiking and always gave us a hand to help us
make those hard climbs or steep descents.
Francine got a Tom, Angie a Tommy and Karen a Willy.
They were so nice and made sure were didn't fall off the mountain side.
So on the second night, Francine was actually helping to set up her tent and her brand new tent pole snapped. She quickly suggested that they use a bamboo pole to fix it. Angie walked down and suggested a bamboo pole, Fran rolls her eyes and said she suggested it too. But several porters try everything else until they finally resorted to the bamboo pole.
The kids from the village gathered around and before long, Donald, Kylie and Karen were playing Frisbee with them.
The routine became, washing up in the river or water tap, wash our sweaty clothes, rest, eat dinner and go to bed at around 6:30- 7:00PM. Sounds less then exciting, yes, and we were so tired few of us actually were able to sleep well. The roosters would crow all night long, the jungle sounds were predominant and many were too exhausted to sleep, but we try to get a few hours.
August 7, 2011
Templeton Crossing Two – 8 hour trek
The trek today takes us from Alola village to Templeton Crossing Two. It's an 8 hour hike that begins with a steep descent and then several steep ascents on a continuous incline till the end of the day when there is a steep descent with swampy creeks that are slippery and muddy. There is mud everywhere on the track and the humidity is steamy. It's slow moving today but we are actually making good time according to Duffy the Head Porter.
Duffy is a strange man, he had taken Angie's watch that was attached to her day bag and is using it as the official time piece. When Angie told him that the watch was hers (as she thought it had fallen off) He replied, yes it keeps good time. He did not give it back.
Along the track there was a chance to view a Japanese artillery post and tunnel, with remnants of grenades, guns, mortar rounds. Francine was tempted to hold a grenade, the pin was missing!!! but thankfully is was rusted and held in place. So she was told and held the grenade.
The trek continued
and the walk was wet and muddy, Francine is proud that she was able to help her porter Tom from a leach by pouring salt on the creature. Francine announced she had asalted a leach, pardon the pun. And another porter was stung by a bee and his face quickly began to swell. Francine who is the resident chemist provided, antihistamine (non-drowsy) to the porter to counter the reaction.
Francine during one of the creek crossings slipped and fell on her behind sure to leave a bruise, but got up laughing. As was everyone else. We are still trying to work out how she did it whilst standing still. Although she was laughing at the time. Karen said the look of horror on her porter’s face was priceless.
Dinner tonight was a source of mystery. Angie spotted a small vertebrae and then a pelvis bone and asked Francine if there were rats in the jungle and her reply was, One less! Later we were told that it was tinned goose meat. Never saw the can so can't verify for sure.
August 8, 2011
Templeton Crossing Two to Naduri an 8 hour trek.
today begins with a steep incline so steep that we have to have help to climb the rock wall. Then it’s down and up a little hill (actually a big hill) then up to the Kokoda Gap. This is a area that was used during the war for supply drops as it was a relatively flat and open and one of the higher points.
The real Kokoda Experience was felt this afternoon as the rains came and the path became a river a water. From hill 1900 to the camp in Naduri we walked in the mud, rain and water. There were small rivers of water running down the hill. The porters became so very important as they steadied us and helped us to rush down the hill.
Fran had her red poncho flying in the wind. Little Red Riding Hood. The porter was hold her hand and she felt exhilarated and refreshed and very wet by the end of it all. It was very exciting.
Angie was flying down the hill and leading shouts of Woo, Woo, Woo that got the porters excited as they ran with her down the slope defying the water, mud and
slippery spots. Angie was in camp long before anyone else tonight. The rain energized her and it was her best day so far!!
The hills just never stopped today, you kept going and at every turn there was yet more to climb. It was still raining when we arrived in Naduri so tonight we slept in the huts. The floor was made of bamboo and moved with every step and movement anyone made no matter how far away. Another restless night of sleep.
Dinner was actually good, mac and cheese, white sweet potato and egg pancake tasted good after a big day hiking. We sat around the fire and tried to dry our clothes, socks and boots. The porters took them when we headed off to bed to clean up and dry out for us for the next day.
Off to bed in the misty night of light rain. Oh I hope I don't have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the outhouse. The toilets are so bad and so far away. It is misty rain and foggy. Very difficult to see in the dark with a little torch.
August 9, 2011
Neduri to Efogi - 5 hour trek
Naduri to Efogi is a short day today only 5 hours. It begins with a short walk to the village proper of Naduri to meet with the last remaining Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel. The Natives of PNG during the war aided the allied forces by carrying supplies and wounded soldiers along the Kokoda Track. There nickname came about because of their hair. They were vital in the survival of hundreds of soldiers.
The man we met was 103 years old and is suppose to be the last living real Fuzzy Wuzzy. His grandson did his speaking for him and related his wartime stories and how he evaded the Japanese by pretending to be dead. Also his part in helping the wounded off of the mountain.
Angie during a photo shoot winked at him and he kept staring at her and at the end he held out his hand to be shaken and instead Angie planted a big kiss on each cheek. He was smiling after that. Francine shook his hand and kissed his cheek. It bought tears to her eyes. It was also the realisation that we
were really on the Kokoda and her years of dreaming of doing the Track was here. This special moment had actually happened.
It was a very moving moment for all of us to absorb what this man had done for the Allied forces and the fate of Australian.
The hike today is mostly downhill. That sounds like an easy day, but you can't believe the steepness and the tree roots that you have to walk on to do this. Your knees are pounded time and time again. The mud is slippery and the footing unsure in many places. The porters are there to take your hand or grab your pack when you slide or need help. They actually get into trouble when a person falls. Their job is to keep you safe. ( Plus they don't get paid if you get hurt and have to leave the track.)
Today is the donwhill test for Francine's knees. She has had two operations, one of each knee. The left with 3/4 of the cartledge being removed. Well, they are beginning to become swollen. It is the start of shuffle time for Fran. Uphill and on the flat are fine.
Downhill is very very slow and deliberate stepping is being taken. She has them taped each day and neuropehn with her breakfast and lunch. A few weeks rest after the trip and all will be fine.
The last bit of the hike today is uphill, then down a very steep slope to the Efogi Village. Francine bought some bunches of bananas for 5k (2.50 AUD). This is a bargain as they cost about $14.00 a kilo in Australia.
We arrive before lunch and explore the tiny museum of war remnants of rifles, shells, mortar rounds, helmets and a Samurai Sword given to the village by the Australian government in appreciation. We took a walk up to the primary school and Angie talked with the teacher. They have all of the normal subjects and English is one of them. The students all wear uniforms. The major difference is that the kids carry machetes to school and back.
It was nice to have a short day to rest and relax. It was nice to have time to wash your clothes and try to dry them. The humidity is so high that nothing really dries only when set near the
fire and then only maybe. But every night we washed our clothes and put them on in the morning usually very wet and cold. However it didn't matter because within minutes you were sweating and soaking wet anyway.
The young boys are running around the village and Donald and Karen play a game of soccer with them. Karen also give them some stickers.
5 star village. We have a shower room, that isn't falling down. Cold but we are clean and hair is washed. Very refreshing. Tonight we are sleeping on the floor in a hut. Three rooms. The Three blondes are sharing a room. It is nice to spread out a bit and to be able to change our clothes in privacy whilst standing up. Very hard to do in a one person tent. Although makes for some funny conversations. The hut in and out looks like a Chinese laundry. Loving the experience of it all.
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