Saturday, January 19, 2008

DAY 105: Mittagong to Camden

73 km @ 15.1 km/hr
Fri 18th January 2008
Distance to date 6611 km (4132 miles)
Cool, steady rain

As it was raining lightly when I woke up I turned over and went back to sleep, then I happily remembered I’d bought muesli and milk and a yoghurt yesterday so I shifted a little and had leisurely breakfast in bed, very nice too.
By the time I got away the rain had stopped, but the sky was still dark and promised more later. After 3 or 4km on the Hume Highway I turned off left onto the Hilltop road. Apart from a climb up into the village of Hilltop (unsurprisingly) the road mostly descended; around 400m down over several km. The houses looked rather posh and there were a few vineyards around (the two seem to go hand in hand - must be a good business to be in).
True to life for the Derbyshire town where one of my sons lives, it started raining as I arrived in the hamlet of Buxton. There was little to the place other than a score of houses.
Soon after I came to the entrance of Thirlmere Lake NP, and as the rain was pretty light decided to go down to the picnic area and get the billy on - even though there was no indication how far the area was, I trusted it wasn’t too far. It was only 2km so I was soon ensconced under a roofed picnic table in a very quiet and beautiful spot by the lake, not a soul around, sipping tea and scoffing peanut butter and jam butties and finishing yesterday’s paper off and happy as a lark.
Two ladies arrived who were planning a car travel game to get newcomers to the area to get out and see it, and we had an interesting half-hour chat. They had both separately been to Caithness and bombarded me with questions about my local area and Orkney. One lady remembered sitting on Thurso beach eating fish and chips (well, you would wouldn’t you?). As usual an antidote to loneliness; every day there’s a nice exchange like this.
After 2 hours or so it was time to go so I headed for Thirlmere (the town) and considered visiting the railway museum, but I was rather too wet to be comfortable for walking around, plus it was $10 to get in, so I passed and popped down into Picton.
It was now pouring down (around 1330) and I didn’t feel like exploring and decided to get to the CP at Oakdale asap; however the 400m I had lost today started to be reversed as I climbed for ages, including a VERY steep 1km hill at one point. I was thoroughly fed up with the day by the time I got to The Oaks, too wet even to go to the bakery, which looked nice. I asked a lady ab out the CP at Oakdale and she shook her head as she told me there’s 6km of hills to get to the place, and I should instead head for Camden, where there is also a CP, even though it’s 16km it’s mostly downhill. Who am I to argue? Camden it was then, and indeed I was there well within the hour.

The CP isn’t up to much for $20 - no camp kitchen and lots of rather scruffy ‘permanent’ residents. Still, I had no choice at turned 5 and soaked to the skin.
For the first time I had to erect the tent from the outside in so as not to get the inner part wet, but it was very easy, just involving a little crawling around under the outer, and I was soon changed into dry clothes with my pile of wet stuff headed for the drier. (Which proved to be useless despite feeding it $2).
I managed to arrange the tent flaps so that I could comfortably cook whilst in the tent, without setting the tent on fire, and a few minutes later I was tucking into my favourite Hungarian salami and pasta, and glowing smugly with a hot cup of tea. To be honest although I cycled soaked for 3 hours or more it wasn’t that bad - certainly not cold - and it is nice to get dry and relax after such a day - my wettest in this trip. It’s still raining at 2100 as I type.

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