Ports Water Race Track (km2940) – Colac Bay (2965), hitch to Riverton (km2976), and minus 6 km shortcut.
Just 3 days from finishing and the TA finally takes its toll.
I tried to get up early but the forest was still dark by 8 am. I didn’t get going until 9:15 am and the late start kind of made me feel in a hurry. I was walking a pretty fast but normal pace, thinking all the while that there were some really tricky spots to be careful of. The trail continued to be overgrown, muddy, and with lots of washouts and deadfall to negotiate. I even remember contemplating my foot placement going over all the logs, pondering which way was the best direction for a foot to slide so as to minimize damage.
I knew what was the absolute worst, and that is for the foot to slide inward towards the other. This very quickly drops you on your side, possibly doing some damage to your arm as the trekking pole is trapped on either side of the log. I call it the side-swipe and that is exactly how the TA got me.
The moss and rot on any given log creates one of the slickest surfaces known to human kind. Often on the TA, fallen logs are simply notched with a foothold, rather than being cut straight through and removed. This log didn’t even have that, just a nice, round, gooey surface. It was also at just the angle so as to appear safely horizontal but actually be slightly elevated on one side. It was the perfect set-up for a side-swipe. My right foot, with no tread left on the shoe, didn’t stand a chance. I landing hard on my right side before I even knew what was happening. My arm got pinned backwards from the trekking pole and I hit my shoulder and buttocks directly on the log. Wham!
I had to just lay there for a minute, waiting for the white-hot pain to subside. I was sure my shoulder was dislocated. I moved it after awhile, relieved that it was still intact. But it hurt. So did my back. It took me a good 20 minutes of walking to shake it off. Then, about an hour later, I fell again. This time it was my left foot’s turn to side-swipe in some mud and I landed to my left, on my butt, but in soft mud. However, my head bounced solidly off a fern tree on the way down. If it had been a more substantial tree, I might have gotten a concussion. But it just hurt my ear and my pride.
Out of such frustration with the trail, I got up and whacked the fern tree with my trekking poles for a bit. Not a pretty sight and in the process I dropped my MP3 player in the bushes and had to spend 5 minutes looking for it. The TA is uncaring and does not suffer revenge attempts.
The Ports Water Race track follows an old water canal used to deliver water during the mining days. It is basically a ditch with a trail built up alongside. Once you have walked 1 km of it, you have seen all there is to see over the 20 km length.
With about 6 kms to go, there was a side trail leading off to the east into a paddock and eventually out to a gravel road. Even though it was a shortcut, you can bet I jumped at the opportunity to take it. I had no problem admitting defeat to this trail, as I wasn’t sure how badly I was injured and how much more I could take. It was such a relief breaking out into the open paddock. The shortcut also reduced a busy road walk to only 1 km, so it was a win-win. I imagine that many take this option.
At Colac Bay, we stopped to have lunch at the tavern. I got fried oysters and chips, and in hindsight, this may have been a worse mistake than the falls on the trail. But I was quite hungry after so little food the past few days.
After getting up from lunch, I noticed how sore I was. There was still a 14 km beach walk to Riverton, my planned destination for the night. It was also going to be high tide in the afternoon, making it even harder. At least there was a cute school bus shelter with South Park and Simpson’s characters on the way to the beach…ah, Americana.
The beach was pretty but lacking one important thing: sand. The tide was really high, as in all the way up to the road.
We walked the road for as long as it lasted, which was only about 1 km. Beyond that, it was going to be a real slog up against and in the dunes. Klaus had warned that it was a rough go when he did it the day before. I was starting to really feel the pain in my shoulders and back, so I made an easy decision to walk out to the highway and get a ride to Riverton. I thought I might try to walk the section later when I was feeling better and the tide was right. Oh well, score another defeat by the TA. I’ve battled long and hard and it’s time I let it have a few victories over me.
Once in Riverton, I settled into a hostel and went for the only food option still open, a greasy takeaway place. Mistake 3 for the day, as I think this was probably the place that did me in. Or maybe it was just the last straw of the punishment my body could take. I went to bed feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I estimated that it was a 50/50 chance that I could even walk the next day. To come so close and then be derailed like this, it was frustrating to say the least.