Shelley Beach to Blanket Bay – 14kms
This day marks the day I lost Bree forever, yet I struggle with it far less than her birthday. I often wonder if it is because I always have a plan around how to spend the day and it usually involves something that honours Bree’s personality and her zest for life.
I find the days leading up are awful and this year was no different with plenty of tears, but on the day, I usually find peace.
Today was no different. We were dropped off at Shelley Beach to commence the forward journey of the GOW and no sooner had we started, but we began to spot koalas in the trees.
I had two requests of Bree in my conversations with her – hold off the rain and let me see koalas in the wild for the first time.
What a joy it was to spot them. It took me straight back to a time I took Bree to a park that allowed her to get up close and put her hand out and touch them. How wonderful it was to have a memory of her that I haven’t thought of in a long time.
There were so many moments in the early stages of today’s walk I felt like I was on a Lord of the Rings Quest.
2kms in, we came upon Elliot Ridge camp ground. There were toilets here with an incredible view out into the surrounding forest.
It was at this point, I discovered how klutzy Ange is. Most people who know me well (especially Riley who regularly shakes his head at my klutziness) might think this is a bit rich coming from me, but as I watched her, Ange managed to make me positively feel like Bear Grilles.
In the space of 5mins, Ange had managed to get caught in the toilet door with her backpack, nearly stab herself with her hiking poles, hit her head on a ledge as she stood up and spin in a circle like a dog chasing its tail, trying to reach her water bladder hose!
After the initial beach and rock walks, today’s walk was mainly all inland, walking through tall Mountain Ash. It was so beautiful and still and quiet, with no other people. Everything helped to bring peace to my mind and just let me think good things of Bree.
After walking for another hour and having no idea where we were on the trail or where there might possibly be somewhere to stop for lunch, we came across some cut up logs and took a break.
We discovered a proper seated area once we started walking again, just 20mtrs further on.
It felt like an eternity of walking without any signs or markers to know where we were (in reality it was only 5kms from Elliot Ridge) before a sign finally appeared for Blanket Bay, advising of 7kms to go.
These kms seemed to go pretty quickly and before we knew it, with some koala spotting along the way, we arrived at the campsite.
This was the real test – setting up the tent and cooking food. With the guidance of Ange and a super easy tent, I was set up in no time at all and was able to spot our closest koala so far.
Somehow though, despite arriving just after 4pm, we didn’t manage to eat until 8pm, when most other people in the camp site were brushing their teeth to get ready for bed! Thank goodness for those people though, as I had to seek assistance from another walker to show me how to light my stove, otherwise fear number two of no dinner would have come to fruition!
As I waited for my dehydrated meal to magically hydrate, I went and sat by the waterfall, quietly reflecting on the day and how I was here for Bree. I found my peace and connection with her.
Now, I am lying on the ground, listening to bugs outside the tent, the roar of the ocean and some other unidentified sounds that keep freaking me out. How does anyone possibly sleep while camping?
Tomorrow is a long day, but hopefully, our camp set up improves on today and we can actually spend some time just relaxing and taking in where we are. Camping is hard work.