22km Sealer’s Cove- Half Way Hut
Giants Valley walk
Numerous bird species
20mm of skin piercing rain
300g of food
Hipflask of vodka, Olives & parmesan crisps
The most arduous of walks in the most difficult of conditions, this day was designed to push me past uncomfortable into the sweet spot of personal growth. We knew it from the outset. When we booked the weekend, unable to secure a camping spot at Waterloo Bay, our overconfident hiking alter egos happily accepted the 22km moderate hike for day 2 of our adventure. Little did we know it would be in the wildest of conditions that we’ve hiked so far, that we would be tested both mentally and physically.
It's only when we reflect back and see what pivotal moment or collective that had such an impact in driving us forward in experiencing the dep reset that we both yearned for.
The day started at 7 am with breakfast on the beach. The wild winds the night before had provided a restless sleep (along with a monthly visit to remind me that I am a healthy woman) with the tall gums above our camp area whipping in the high winds. We ate our Carmen’s breaky oats with nuts, seeds, and dried berries and enjoyed a coffee before setting off on the first leg to Refuge Cove.
The climb was steep up the hill and boulders at the cliff edge towered over Sealer’s cove. Winds were picking up and with it came hard rain, the type that feels as if it almost pierces the skin. The 16c day was a welcome relief from the previous day of 33c. The narrow path that twisted, undulating through the landscape of Giants Valley provided some cover from the driving rain. Wallabies were only metres from us on the path, inquisitive as to our presence.
Few people were on the trails as high wind and storm warning was issued a few days prior. We were prepared with our gear and comforted when we met with a ranger who stated that his experience told him this storm wouldn’t come to fruition. Despite the warning, we endured some heavy rain and pressed on, after all its only water I reminded myself.
A collection of Whalebones had been dragged up from the beach and displayed as we entered Refuge Cove, a sign of the life that exists beneath the water just off the idyllic coast. We took refuge (pardon the pun) under a tree at the shoreline and refueled for the strenuous climb to Kersop’s Peak.
The rocky climb was loose underfoot and required a little more attention and physicality. The weight of our bags felt heavy with the 3 litres each we were carrying. A ranger had advised that no water was at our final location, the halfway hut, so we filtered and carried the additional to ensure a meal could be prepared for lunch, dinner and drinking water. We weren’t sure what streams were going to be flowing along the way. Best be prepared, even if it means carrying the additional weight.
The trail from Kersop’s Peak to Little Waterloo Bay hugged the cliff edge before descending to white sand of the desolate bay. The hums of the waves crashing, bird song above, trees dancing wildly in the wind and the sound of each raindrop hitting our plastic bag covers, it was easy to lose yourself in the sounds of Nature. We had no other option to keep going, it was hard, testing our resolve and we were in need of a rest after almost 4 hours of solid walking in the most testing conditions.
Arriving at Little Waterloo Bay we found little shelter under an information sign as the penetrating rain proved relentless. Our Uncle Ben’s rice and tuna warmed our spirits as we consumed every grain ravishingly, washed down with warm miso soup.
An elderly barefoot man approached a smile as broad as his weathered face. A ranger, celebrating 50 years on the job he inquired as to our plans. Our jovial conversation, provided reprieve as he commented on our 22km journey to Halfway hut, offering a campsite at Waterloo. Given the weather conditions, he stated that many who had booked, pulled out of the weekend, citing extreme conditions.
With my 17kg bag on my back, we pressed on determined to get to Half Way Hut to enjoy the hipflask we had packed as a reward of our laborious day.
Leaving waterloo bay, we took a right turn into the swamps and low lands that sat between the peaks, headed towards Telegraph Junction. Words cannot describe heaven on earth elation felt walking through the landscape. The heavens had opened and with no tree canopy, we pressed on taking in the boulders that cling to the mountain ranges somewhat precariously, dwarfing us from above. In the distance sandy hills alluded to Oberon Bay where we would explore in the coming days.
This day’s hike was nearing the end, as with my mental aptitude when we reached Telegraph Junction. Exhausted we came to the gravel road that only a few kilometers would bring us to our resting place for the day. My tank was empty, my pack full. Tears in my eyes, pain in my legs from the sandy trails of the past 6km, I protested that I couldn’t go on. Taking rest every few hundred metres, I dig deep and climb the winding road; tears fill my eyes once more as I look to Shan with desperation. 6 hours of hard trails, undulating hills and the heaviest rainfalls we had endured, I was about to fall to pieces on the ground when we reached the Half Way Hut.
Clearing my eyes, summoning strength from god knows where we walked into the camp and found the old stone hut. Bodies lined the floors. Hikers from all directions sought shelter under the old tin roof. We huddled in the corner, get into warm, dry clothes and wait for the rain to ease before setting up our tent.
As we sat, stretching our legs on the hard wooden floors, we enjoyed the vodka from the hipflask. Pickled olives, cucumbers, and parmesan crisps accompanied our well-deserved rest. The day’s events were replayed with the huts guests as we connected over our option of dried meals to be enjoyed for dinner. Our jet-boilers ran simultaneously as we Shan and I devoured our Coq Au Vin before inviting the sandman to take us away to a restful sleep.
The most challenging hiking day that I have endured sits bittersweet in my memory bank. It is the lessons of resilience, endurance, and acceptance when in these situations that remind me to go back for more.....and WHY you should too!
Half Way Hut- The Meg
9:30 am start
1.5 hours (said 2.5hours)
South Point (of Australian Mainland)