As I continue to write Passage, I have discovered a number of questions that could only be answered by hiking up the Bishop and Clerk track on Maria Island.
OH and myself decided to catch the ferry today, do the climb and also grab the ranger and ask a few leading questions about retrieving injured hikers from the track, using walking, UTV’s or helicopter rescue.
OH and I are by no means bushwalkers.
We have a level of suppleness and fitness but we both have ‘issues’ – me with balance and a bad foot. He with permanent breathing problems and issues from his accident last year.
Today we tested ourselves.
It’s a very steep walk, consistently uphill and mostly hanging right on the edge of vertical cliffs that spill into the sea. I honestly sweated on it all this week – very conscious that vertigo (a by-product of the balance deficit) would stop me climbing much further than the lower reaches of the Fossil Cliffs. But OH urged me on and also kept to the seaward side of the track.
I also barely once glanced toward the sea in the whole journey, looking inland into the bush or along the track or toward Mercury Passage, not the Tasman Sea.
Which of course enabled me to find things like the petite Bright copper (Paralucia aurifer) butterfly
and a very long tailed but attractive Whites’ skink.
The birds were delicate in song, small little bushbirds which are a delight to walk with. Very occasionally a bushraven mourned the ongoing days of summer, and near the scree, a kookaburra laughed.
I was looking through Annie’s eyes. This is a watershed moment for her. She places so much importance on accomplishing this walk on her own. I had already planned her hike and what must happen, but as we climbed, my plans began to scatter to the winds.
The terrain and its upward aspect and rough access meant a wholly different approach to that part of the novel and that’s where OH really came into his own.
He began posing scenarios, marking distances and we fired off each other, plotting a new direction for that particular part of the novel.
On the way back down, we stopped on the bush edge for a picnic lunch and I feverishly made notes in my little black book (which almost needs replacing)…
…whilst he took a pic of said Tasman Sea, and Schouten Island.
Back at Darlington, I found the ranger and we discussed just what would initiate a helicopter rescue with winches, what would initiate an initial triage and transport to a more suited landing space. We also had a hilarious chat with the Bike Rentals man who is an absolute character – just busting to be written into a novel!
This one? Don’t know…
By the time we were back aboard the ferry, my feet were throbbing, and my little brain was exhausted with effort and planning. And I tell you, it was also the hardest cardiac workout we’ve both had for some time – pounding hearts and buckets of sweat.
But I was sharing this with my life’s partner. For Annie, turning seventy and loaded with grief, the walk was designed to test her heart and soul and it was something she and her late husband always planned to do together. She had the thought that if she could accomplish it, she would finally cross to the other side of a shocking year.
Do you wonder if she completes the walk? If she finds closure after the worst year of her life?
I’m not saying…