We woke up to the glorious sight of the sunrise glowing on the trees above us. We were afforded a couple of minutes basking in the beauty before Richard, who was already long awake, reminded us of the old saying “Red Sky in the Morning…”. Sure enough, the muesli was barely scraped from the bottom of our bowls when the rain began to pelt down. And so it continued for the rest of the day – ideal weather for a track entitled “The Long Hilly Track”. To be fair, I’ve had longer and hillier, but seven hours traipsing through muddy undulating forest in lashings of rain isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. I’ve spoken previously about wanting to stretch out these last few days of the trail – well in this instance I wasn’t feeling so prosaic.
We’d been the first to vacate the hut that morning (yes, go on, we’ll allow you a moment of shock horror), followed by Richard and then the German contingent. We were quickly passed out by Katrin, Thore and Moritz, who power walked past us like a team of yummy mummies desperate to drop a couple of pounds for the Christmas season. I can’t speak for Alan, as he’d probably been finished the trail in January had it not been for me, but I was slowed down significantly by having to cross fairly deep ditches repeatedly via rickety tree trunks. At one point we had to full on vault across a gap a couple of metres wide, which you can imagine I was LOVING.
About 7 kilometres before the Long Hilly Walk would culminate, the trees opened up to afford walkers views across farmland and, temptingly, a more direct route to the ultimate destination of Colac Bay. All three of us gazed across the farmland for a moment reading each other’s thoughts, before eventually sucking it up and continuing along the last long, hilly stretch.
As we exited the bush and made our way along the last few kilometres to Colac Bay, the realisation that we were really truly almost there began to resonate powerfully. You could smell the sea in the air and the rain had finally stopped as we arrived at Colac Bay Tavern, a little gem of a spot that is a haven for TA trampers with its whopper burgers and discounted cabins. Stripping off our soggy gear and drenched boots we headed straight for the burgers and pints, carb-loading for the next challenge: two days, eighty kilometres and one goal. Clutching that signpost at Bluff was becoming more and more feasible.