Monday, August 04, 2008

DAY 283: Karijini Eco Retreat to bush camp 31km N of Tom Price

51km @ 10.5 km/hr
Sat 2nd August 2008
Sunny, 27 deg C
Elevation of /destination 768m
Distance to date 17351 km (10844 miles)

Hit the road around 0845 and straight into the horribly rough gravel. I picked my way through as best I could, and after 3km where the gravel road continues to the Karijini west gate, new road to me, things improved a little - but not for long. Within a short time the surface was abysmal - full-width corrugations which were immediately bordered with loose deep gravel. Where the ruts eased occasionally there big stones in the matrix which caused a very bumpy ride. It was sheer misery, and I had to dismount time and time again where the road was just unrideable. What was ‘fun’ yesterday unladen was ‘hell’ with all the weight on. There were many steep, short climbs too that often caused me to walk, and the road climbed steadily for 20km - only gaining some 150m in height but enough to add to the pain. The scenery was very nice with craggy red hills and a wide selection of wild flowers, but I was usually too busy concentrating on staying upright to take it in.
The last few km of the 29km to the bitumen were better, and it was with relief that I rode back on the highway. As I was getting a drink an old VW Campervan stopped and a young couple stopped to chat, and gave me an apple and orange, which were gratefully accepted.
For a few km the wind was behind me and I was motoring at 25, but all too soon it flipped from SE to west, and I was ploughing up yet another draggy incline into a fresh headwind. I had trouble even making 10 km/hr, and I went through a bad patch mentally. Although I haven’t covered much distance today I felt very tired, and resolved to find a bush site and camp up, even though it was barely 3. Only 25km from Tom Price and a Coles Supermarket, plus all the other joys of a medium-sized town, too. I really expected to get there today.
I finally found a site very close to a sign announcing a 4km 8% hill, and the thought of grinding up that into a strengthening headwind was too much so just as well! I’m ahead of schedule, so my current slow progress isn’t significant yet. My luck with the wind has deserted me temporarily what with it shifting around to my disadvantage it seems.
I felt much better after lighting a fire and getting supper done and ate; this seems quite a nice site. It was quite stony though, and I had to tear a few armfuls of flower-laden branches down to lay beneath the tent to smooth things out. Plenty of birds around here in what is the only large group of dense trees for quite a distance.

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