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Archive for June, 2008

Wednesday  June 10, 2009

It is a bit early to get up. I first woke up at 4:30 and could feel and hear that the fire went out, but I stayed in bed a bit longer. I do not like getting up in the dark, I like being in the house and sleeping when it is dark outside, though it is dark from 4:30pm until 7:30am, way to long to sleep. Last night was the first night in one whole week that I stayed up until a normal hour of 9:30, the last week have been going to bed between 7 and 8:30 and 5:00 in the case of my solo camping trip. It was so cold and dark and a bit scary all alone deep in the wilderness that I wanted to go to sleep and rush the night into morning. I was troubled most of last night about two things. The first is while I would love to report all kinds of great and exciting beautiful events from my backpack, which it was beautiful, I am haunted by the death of 4 people that occurred in the area that I was at, especially of Claire Hutchins, age 20. There is a memorial for Claire at the hut, she died while solo bushwalking in the area, and her body was never found. I heard she got lost in the labyrinth, a day hike near the hut. But on the wall mounted ranger’s information poster about the area it stated in very large bold letters, “do not bushwalk alone, four people have died in recent years in this area.” I was alone and now scared once it became dark. The hut is built in the middle of the forest, very deep jungle wilderness without much light. I was going to climb Mt. Acropolis, a difficult rock scramble climb up 4800 feet. Seeing the photo of Claire and the note from her parents I took extra caution. I began the hike to Mt. Acropolis but and I did not summit. I came to one giant boulder over 9’ tall that I needed to get over, if I missed I would have gone over the cliff, I had no ropes or partner for support so I rested there and came back down a bit defeated but rewarded with magnificent views and my life. Now back at home base I think about Claire and the 3 others, I don’t know who they were or how they died, I presume they got lost which is easy to do out there or they fell off Mt. Acropolis. Another haunting thought is about the perceived homeless man living in the hut just south of Windy Ridge. Two girls described him a creepy and that they would indeed be very afraid if they were alone. The night at Pine Valley I was alone, the never next day I met 9 people on their way out there, and I wish I had gone a day later. So what about this homeless man? I told them to tell the rangers, I don’t know if they did. I am a bit more afraid to go out alone, it is not as much fun doing overnights as it is when I am home and hiking with Nancy, Russ and Michelle, my favorite of my favorites to go with. It is more fun when you have someone to talk too and share food with. But I also liked meeting people on the trail, mostly pre-college kids from all over Europe and Asia on their one to two year “tramp.” I also met Michael who I will meet when he and his friend return on Thursday. I began two drawings last night and one dark and rainy one based on a mountain photo I took. I am thankful to get back, I do like the safety and warmth of my hut. I always thought that if I died while out backpacking or climbing it would be okay because I died doing something that I love. But with a closer look at it, I would not want to be alone in the dark woods and knowing that no one can help you and there is nothing you can do. I need to tell the ranger about the homeless man, Pine Valley would be a perfect spot for someone to move into it is not on the regular trail and there is no one within a days journey to find you.

Part II
Last night I thought I heard helicopters but when I asked the rangers at the front desk they said they did not hear anything but a car idling; I must have been mistaken so I forgot it. Then just a few minutes ago at 12:30 I saw Barry one of the head rangers, and he called me over. He asked me if I met two men yesterday at Narcissus hut, and indeed I had, Michael. I spoke with Michael at length as his friend Fez was getting ready for their days journey into Pine Valley where I had just returned. I invited Michael to meet me when he returned on Thursday, I had been thinking about his return and how nice it would be to have company. What Barry had to tell me though was that Michael was returning today, two days early, that on their walk to Pine Valley Fez died. He died on the track. Somehow they got his body to the hut and the helicopter search and rescue came and got him but he had already passed. There is a heliport at Pine Valley, perhaps because 4 people had already died there, but I in reality I think it is to bring supplies as was needed when they built the hut. Michael stayed the night in Pine Valley, there was a family of 6 that was also out there perhaps keeping him company, he will be back on the 2:00pm ferry and I will meet him there. It is a very somber day here, it is cold, dark and storming a cliché really. I went to the Lake’s look out point and felt sad. It is really tragic, but I am glad he was not alone and he died in a really beautiful place.

Part III
I met Michael at the Ferry and he told me Fez’s story. It sounded very peaceful and a wonderful way to pass, simply stopping on the track with beautiful surrounds all around of lush green forests. Most likely he had a heart attack. Search and rescue came to get him and Michael stayed in Pine Valley with the family who was out there. Last night we had a lovely dinner at the Derwent Pub and he told me want a kind wonderful man Fez was and that death too is a reality of the bush. It is something to think about and of course accept as nature. There was no accident and he simply passed right there. Michael introduced Fez to the bush and he had collected a nice set of supplies and was very excited to head out into Pine Valley. Michael is staying on a couple of extra days, we planned a 20k hike back to Mt. Rufus which I climbed my second day here but it is very cold and pouring rain so he made pancakes and we had a fun morning doing the geeky thing of comparing gear. I am now coveting his 12-volt solar charging panel. It is very nice to have a new friend and really great to have someone here to talk to and hang around with if only for a few days. I feel honored that he shared with me his account of Fez and little anecdotes about him.

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The Pickled Frog at nightThe first night

Hobart as far as I can tell is absolutely charming. I arrived Sunday June 1 at 3:00pm and David from Arts Tasmania met me at the airport. It was great to meet him after all this time of emailing and planning the trip. He was a fantastic host giving me a tour of Hobart and showing me the most amazing views of the harbor. Hobart is a harbor city building around the water and up Mt. Wellington, and the hills that surround the area; it is a perfect combination of mountains and water.

I checked in the Pickled Frog, a hostel and backpackers hotel. In an effort to save money I chose to stay here for the first night on the recommendation of one of the former artists, Iris Zogel of Germany. The reception is very welcoming, the price for a single room is $60 which I think is pricey but the cheapest in Hobart.  The room is clean and basic though it may have seen better days.  The whole floor shares one bathroom for each gender. After getting settled I walked to North Hobart where all the best restaurants and bars are. Being Sunday night most places were closed. I decided to eat a Noodle Shoppe on Elizabeth Street that was very good. It was definitely not your typical Chinese restaurant, simple in design the food was very fresh, when you order you can see them choose all the ingredients for your dish and the presentation on giant gleaming white plates was very nice. After walking back to the Frog and turning down the invitation for drinking with two boys who are also staying here, it is a good thing too this morning I saw an empty fifth of Jack Daniels in the lounge most likely theirs, I was ready to go to sleep at the late hour of 7pm.

I woke up at 12:30am ready to get up. The lights stay on 24 hours in the hallways and I have a big glass window in my door, from the street I hear the walk signal clicking away, they run 24/7. I could tell if it said “walk” or “don’t walk” all through the night. Maybe next time I will spring for a regular hotel. I managed to stay in bed until 5:30, took a shower and went to find breakfast. It was still very dark; the sun did not come up until 7:35. The coffee shop, Hudson Coffee opens at 6:30. I had a very delicious bagel, very different from American bagels, more like a thick crumpet. The coffee is also different, there is no such thing as what we drink as American coffee, (update since writing this post – it is called long black which I did not know) and if you order coffee with milk you will get a latte, unless you specify a cappuccino. The coffee is delicious. At Hudson Coffee you order what kind of coffee you want then what type of milk; whole, low-fat, non-fat, or soy. I got a large black coffee and bagel for $7.24. Yes it is expensive here. But I have never been on a trip where food is as cheap as in NYC. People complain all the time about prices in NYC, yes housing is high but because of competition you can get a bagel and coffee for $1 on the street. And even with US gas at $4 a gallon, it is a steal compared Tasmania’s $1.88 a liter.

I am meeting David at 9 to go to the art store and grocery store. Then we will go to Lake St. Clair. I am excited to get into the wilderness, it will be cold. I am cold now and it is a beautiful sunny day; the beginning of winter.

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No Communication

Dear Friends,

I am sorry to say my sat. terminal will not work in Tasmania. I do not have a phone or email and will not be able to make posts for at least one month. I am trying to arrange to buy a pre-paid cell phone that will work in this area. In the mean time I have a postal address of lake St. Clair Visitor Center, c/- Der went Bridge, Tasmania 7140. There is no post where I am at. The rangers from the visitors center travel to Derwent Bridge where there is a pub that accepts mail.  It is only a few miles away. I will try and send out postcards as often as possible.

On the positive side it is gorgeous here. I hiked 12 miles yesterday in the most magically place I have ever been. When I can I will post photos.  I may send a CD back to NYC to Lisa and have them posted. 

I miss you all. lots of love

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Satellite Trouble

I have phone and satellite trouble and will be posting as soon as it is sorted out.  I am at Lake St. Clair Tasmania, it is beautiful.

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