The heat is oppressive, as I stood from tying my shoe. I look around and cannot see Steve. He was in front of me only moments before. I call out. His voice comes back to me as clear as if he was standing next to me.
Incredible, how can he be so close, yet out of sight? The scrub here is impenetrable. We’ve been pushing through it for hours on our ‘Route’ to the campsite. Why a route? Well, that’s what you call it when there is no track and trying to navigate by landmarks.
The problem with this though is the scrub is so out of control here. Looking around I can just see the top of Steve’s head and backpack; else I would not see him at all. He is standing not two metres away. The harsh green of the Australian bush is all around and between us. Lawyer vine as thick as my index finger and as tough as rope covers everything. It threads its way through the Eucalypt trees, the shrubs forming in places like a wall that you have to bodily push your way through.
The dry smell of gum leaves and sap from the broken branches of the bush fills my nose. The scratches on my arms and legs sting as my sweat runs into them. I take out my water bottle and take another swig to quench my thirst, the warm water passing into my mouth, smooth and refreshing.
‘Steve, my waters getting low, we are going to have to pick up the pace to get to the river’. Steve as chipper as ever ‘you are right, let’s push down into the creek bed and climb down’.
A task that sounds easy at face value, several hours of experience had informed me that pushing through the hundred and fifty odd metres of scrub to get there, would be a monumental effort. From my calculations, we had been travelling less than a kilometre an hour for several hours. A hundred metres in this scrub would be at least another fifteen to twenty minutes, not counting losing each other.
Our campsite at best was still four kilometres away, at this rate, it would be another three to four hours before we got there, well after dark. That is if the creek bed did not give us some relief. If we could make it to the creek bed, and it was below the scrub, just maybe our pace would pick-up, and we could be at our camp in an hour.
Steve turns and plunges into the bush. Out of sight, I can only hear him push forward, hear the crack of branches, the scrape of leaves and brush against his pack as he moves forward. I follow, the scrub so thick that it immediately covers the path he is trying to create. The smell of broken branches and ripped leaves is stronger now and smells so fresh in this dry acrid place.
Perversely this is fun, the physicality of pushing through the bush, the adventure of having to navigate with no trail in sight, the excitement of being somewhere new and unknown and the challenge of using all our bushcraft to find our way.
Put up as a sample for Wendy