Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Hey everyone,

Just so y’all know I am safe and back in Daintree at the farm. I do feel like an old woman that has been beat up and thrown off a 100-meter cliff. (I may be exaggerating lust a bit!) Despite my sore muscles, millions of scratches on my legs, sprained ankle, and an itchy nee from a stinging leaf whose sting can last up to six months, I had an amazing time traveling around tablelands with Ben. An adventure without getting a little banged up is not an adventure at all. I had a blast! We started the trip on Saturday the 11th of July in Ben's white van. The van has been fixed up with all the camping essentials, a bed, a table, a couple coolers, some chairs and a stove. We got some groceries from the store and headed south.

Our first stop was Yungaburra. We got there later in the day and found a park to crash at. There were toilets and a picnic table. We had a candle lit dinner and played cribbage. Then we used my star gazing map to find some constellations. I found the Southern Cross and above it two bright stars that the map called alpha and beta, but I don't know their real names. I found Scorpio (my sign), which is very big and bright, it has like 16 stars in it you can see on a regular night and it is in the middle the sky this time of year. I found Sagittarius too; it is right next to Scorpio. I found a few more but I can’t remember their names.

The next day we went to Lake Tinaroo. We couldn’t find a public park on the lake, so we just walked in people’s backyards. A lot of them were lake homes that get rented out with no one in them. Most of the walk around the lake was cleared out but sections were wooded that we had to climb through. This is just the beginning of my scratches. Rainforests are no joke! The lake was very beautiful, it is an artificial lake with lots of homes around it, but ironically it was very quiet and peaceful, and we saw almost no people. The best part was all the birds that all took off at the same time, making a dominating sound that echoed around the lake walls. The birds would not fly very far before turning around, landing in the same place they took off from, and then flying off again. It was a magical sight to see. We kept walking and realized this lake was VERY big and there was no way we were going to be walking around it. I considered swimming across, but Ben didn’t want to and I wasn’t going to make him walk back by himself. On the way back I sneaked on to a trampoline in someone’s back yard, and jumped around a bit. It was fun, and no one told me to get off. We walked the road back, getting French lessons the whole way. I have gotten a lot better, although I still can’t understand when Ben talks to people in French and it takes me like two full minutes to come up with a sentence.

That afternoon we went to Lake Eacham, a lake that was once a volcano. It is a small lake, very clear water with a hint turquoise. It had a 400-km trail going around it that we hiked. I realized at this point that I had rolled my ankle. I don’t know how it happened, but it must have happened sometime when we were walking around Lake Tinnaroo. I realized as well that I had only brought my flip-flops with me. Luckily, Ben’s foot is not that much bigger than mine and he had an extra pair of tennis shoes. My ankle was fine once I wore the shoes and we enjoyed our hike around Lake Eacham. The rain forest around the lake was full of strangler figs. A strangler fig usually begins life when a seed, dropped by a bird germinates on a high branch. It sends roots down to the ground and, over time, these roots merge, encasing the trunk of the host tree. The host tree eventually dies from lack of sunlight, leaving a hollow strangler fig tree. The strangler fig will grow its own branches that reach for the sun, but it also continues to make roots. Some of which shoot straight down to support the tree like crutches. The roots at the base of the tree are very tall and narrow; some look like the bottom of a rocket ship. They will sometimes crawl up to 40 meters away! It is an awesome tree to climb. There are so many good places to hold on. Our favorite Strangler fig was incredibly big. It must have strangled three very large trees, and then morphed together. If I were a small creature this would have been the perfect mansion. We climbed this tree for a while and then continued our hike around the lake. We made dinner and slept in the parking lot near a picnic table and star gazed some more.

The next morning we bathed in the lake, It was the perfect temperature and the water was so clear. There was this 80 year old woman paddling around the lake that was traveling around Australia to all the rivers and lakes on her blow up ducky kayak. She was very nice and fun. Next we went to lake Barrine that was not to far away. It was also once a volcano. It was very much like the Lake Eacham except bigger. We walked round the lake on a trail that was 600 km long. We didn’t find a tree as cool for climbing as the one on Lake Eacham but there were two enormous pine trees that looked like the front two legs of a dinosaur. After this hike we drove to a nearby crater in Mt Hypipamee National Park. There was a beautiful creak below the crater with lots of waterfalls and it was nearly dusk so we decided we would some back the next day when we had more time. But the crater was only 500 meters away so we went and checked it out anyway. Then drove to find a place to park/camp outside of the national park. We were not sure where we were going to go and it was dark. But we found a sign that said parking so we drove in. It was called Windy Hill, and that it was. There were 20 huge windmills spinning very fast. They made a lovely, powerful sound that I liked. We made dinner and played cribbage again. I beat Ben pretty well because I got a 22 point hand, and many other good hands! It was awfully cold out so we ate chocolate in the car and went to bed.

The next day we drove back to Mt Hypipamee National Park. We went swimming at the main waterfall, called Dinner Falls, with our new goggles we bought in Yungaburra after wishing we had them when we were swimming in Lake Eacham. The sunrays shinning through the water looked really magical under water. We swam out to the waterfall and went under it where it was coming down really strong and there was a small cave behind it you could stand in. That was refreshing. Then we hiked down stream for a while and climbed across some logs that fell fairly high up over the creek. It felt at home hiking that creek. Then we carried a big rock to the crater to throw into it. It was about 70 meters until the crater hit water. Which was completely still and full of green duckweed. So when we through the rock it cleared out a hole of duckweed and made a nice echo. The crater was surrounded by gorgeous granite. I imagined if Josh was with me that we would repel down and climb back up! I still haven’t found any rock climbers in Australia. We hiked back to the car and drove to the Misty Mountains. It took a while to drive there so I was reading Little Women the whole way. We drove down this gravel road for a bit until a sign said no more motor vehicles. There was a trail head information sign but not really a “campground”. It would be dark within an hour and a half but I wanted to hike. We started at the Hinson Creek Trail Head. It was a very small trail in a thick rainforest. We brought our flashlight and hiked until almost dark and turned around and hiked back in the dark with the flashlight. There were a lot of bugs in the woods. We picked the tiny ticks off each other when we got back, made dinner, I read some more and then went to bed.

The next day we took a while to get moving. I read some more and then we decided to go to Mila Mila and hike around the waterfalls there instead of hiking on the same trail we walked on that night. We drove all the way back to Mila Mila and didn’t get to the waterfall till about 1:00. Ben read in his Guide book that there was a waterfall circuit connecting three waterfalls. We were got to ‘Mila Mila Falls’ which is very touristic but a very big beautiful waterfall with a large swimming hole. Wanting to get away from all the people we hitched a ride with a swiss family that was in the parkinglot to Zillie Falls. Our plan was to hike on a trail that went from Zillie Falls to Mila Mila Falls. So we got to Zillie Falls and realized no such trail existed. Our car was at the other waterfall and Ben said if we hiked the creek downstream it would eventually get to the falls that are car was at. The guide book said there was a 6 km trail so we thought we could make it before dark no problem. We had packed two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the rest of our cookies and the bottom of a peanut butter jar to dip them in. Zillie Falls was georgious and there was somewhat of a trail to get to the bottom of the falls where there were no people. It was absolutely stunning with all the green surrounding it moss, mist in the air cairing a rainbow, Gigantic Bolders with water crashing on them. I walked up under this enormous waterfall and showered with my Dr. Bronners. I was in awe of the beauty. We hiked down the creek, which was pretty calm at this point, not to many big rocks or falls. Shortly after we began there was a clearing with cows and rolling hills in the distance. Simply Gorgeous. I was so entranced by thebeauty that I jumped in the water forgeting that I had my camera in my camel back. Well I felt very stupid, but what was done was done, my camera no longer worked. Soon after we came across a large lizard sitting very still on a rock, Ben took a picture with his camera, but mine was ruined. Soon we came to some bigger rocks and the hike got much more strenuous. It was very steap with falls in every direction. I was thourouly enjoying myself, riding down the falls on my but that looked safe. The water flatted out and was very shallow with lots of little rocks and then it got deaper for a bit. I was thinking we might almost be to our car. I am still swimming every chance I get. If the water was deap enough, I was in it. When it started to get darker in the sky and we noted that there would only be two hours left of sunlight we became a little bit antious to see our car around the corner. Then we came across some amazing waterfalls. There was one big fall right after the other, Like six in a row. At this point we were getting antious for any sign of civilization. We hadn’t seen a human or a clearing of land since the very beginning. It was just thick jungle all around us. I thought for sure SOMEONE had to have come to see THESE waterfalls, they were so ginormous, it was unreal. But there was no trail anywhere to be found. We kept hiking with great spirts. It was hard not to be happy with all the beautiful surroundings. I am still jumping in the water every chance I get, slidding down falls, swimming most of the way. Ben is keeping fairly dry but we both have picked up the pace. He suggested stopping and setting up a place to camp. I thought it an outragous idea, and thought for sure we would make it. I remember asking him do you want to get to the car, and he said yes, and I said well then we have to keep hiking.
We hiked until we couldn’t see our hand if we put it infront of our face. We had no flashlight, so we used Ben lighter to find a place to “camp”. We put out some leafs and made a “bed”. Ben realized he could use his camera as a flash light so we tried to find fire wood with the light from the camera. It wasn’t much use because we were right next to a creek in a rainforest so everything was wet, plus it was to dark we kept running in to briers and cutting ourself. My hands got all bloody from the ‘wait a while’ ferns. They are called that because if you get caught on their thorns then you will have to ‘wait a while’ to pull them out of your skin, hair, or clothes. After we gathered a little wood we tried to start a fire. We had a lighter and paper but the wood was not dry enough. We gave up after a while and tried to get confortable for the 10 hours of cold dark night we would have. All I had on was my bathingsuit because everything else was wet and would have made me more cold. I was feeling fine at the begginng of the night because my heart rate was still up from hiking so heat was still moving through my body. It was not long before I was very cold and shivering. I tried doing jumping jaxs and I am not sure if it made me much warmer but at least it was something to pass the time away. I had my very small sponge towel that dries fairly quickly and becomes stiff. It barely fit around my back, but it was my savior blanket! Ben has semi dry boxers on and a dry tee shirt. He offered that I could wear his shirt but he is a very thin guy and would get much colder than me so I let him wear it. We knotted up to eachother to try and get as much warmth from eachother as possible, but it was very uncomfortable and impossible to sleep. I just thought of happy warm thoughts and closed my eyes. We would get up and change positions every half hour or hour, and sometimes do more jumping jax. We got desparate and tried to make a fire again, we came very close and I was beginning to think it might just work. But it never got big enough to put anything bigger than a itsey bitsey twig and eventually I got tired of blowing. Again it may not have worked but it passed the time away. I looked at the clock like every hour. I might have fell asleep for intervals of 10 minutes at the max but it wasn’t a deap sleep by anymeans. I would have dreams of hiking down the creek and coming across a trail then realize I was still laying in the cold wet rainforest floor.

Finally the sun did rise, and we could see again. We scraped the empty peanut butter jar clean for breakfast and decided to go a little farther down the creek just to see if the car was just around the corner. If it wasn’t we would turn around and head back the way we came. At least we knew there was civilization that way. We started hiking around 7:00 AM. Not very far from where we camped our creek flew into a bigger river, which I later found out was the Johnstone River. I had to fill up my camel back with river water because I was all out of water, but the water was very clean and tasted grreat. We went down it a little farther until realizing if we kept going we would only get farther away and perhaps have to stay another night in the jungle. So we turned around. It was at a section where the rocks were too steep and we had to walk around through the jungle when I walked straight into a stinging leaf tree. It stung my knee so bad, it felt like I was being stabbed by a million nifes. I knew right away what had happened. I had heared about this leaf and had been trying to look out for them. They are almost heart shaped with jagged edges. They have tinny hairs on them that stick into your skin and sting you like crazy. People said the sting would last for months. Tears started falling from my eyes at the thought that I would be in this much pain for months. Luckly the pain was only bad right when they stung and if my knee toutched something. I also soon found out that if it got wet it hurt all over again but worse. I kept getting in the water anyways, thinking although it hurt like hell it might just help it. Eventually the pain was not as bad and the welts went completely down.
We didn’t get back to where we camped until 10:30. Ben was not walking very fast so I kept having to wait for him. We knew we would make it back before dark though even if we walked slow so I was not worried. It was a beautiful hike going back but it was much harder to climb up the rocks then slide down them, especially when we we compleatley out of energy. Jumping in the cold water woke me up and I ate the cookie crumbs at the bottom of the bag, and got any drop of peanut butter that was left. My legs were so sore. Luckily my ancle was not hurting me too bad. The hike back seemed much farther than we remembered. Eventually I looked up to the left and saw that there may be a clearing through the trees. So excited I hiked up and sure enough there was a bunch of red dirt where a tractor had been through and a dirt road leading to some grassy fields. I saw a house in the distance so I was very excited. The house was abandoned but a little farther down the driveway there was another house. We knocked on the door and a woman with a baby and two other small children answered. We told her a short summary of our story and asked her if she could tell us where we were and how to get back ot our car. She was not very sure and kept saying turn left no right so we wern’t going to trust her directions. We came across a man with six dogs and a big cattle farm. He was herding in his cattle to make beef. He cleared up the directions and said we would probably need to hitch a ride because it would be a long walk all the way to the car. Once we got to a bogger road a car came by. We stuck out our thumb and they pulled over. It was an elderly couple, they were weary of taking hitch hikers but could tell we were in need of help, so they took us to our van. They offered us their sandwiches but we said we had food in our van so we could wait. It was like heaven when we reached that car. We made peanut butter and nutella samdwhiches right away and ate them in like two seconds flat. We ate some bannanas too. Then we drove to a campervan park in Ravenshoe where we could have a shower, make dinner, and sleep.

The next day was a very relaxed one. Both of us could hardly move. I was so scratched up and aching all over. I cleaned up all of my wounds so they wouldn’t get infected. And set up my hammock to read the rest of Little Women. It was a great novel, I enjoyed it thouroghly. Then we drove into the town of ravenshoe and asked the information center about the nearby hot springs.After finishing the book we packed up and drove to Innot Hotsprings. The hot springs were in a section of a creek. It got hotter as you went up stream and then cooled down again. It was nice because you could pick what temperature you liked. There was a sandy beach next to the hot springs where people had dug out holes to sit in and let the hot water from the creek run in. It was not very deap, but it was deap enough to lay down and be compleately covered. It was absolutely perfect, exactly what I needed. There were three kids hangingout in the pool we were in. One aborigional girl named Nikita, she was 10 years old and very bright. She told me about the spiky leaf that I can cut open and rub on my knee where the leaf stung me. She was refering to Aloe Vera. The other two brothers, Johnathon and Mauri, that were about 9 and 6. They were running across the hottest parts of the creek and then climbing up to the other side. Nikita dared me to do it so I did. I ran back before climbing up the first two tries and then finally climbed all the way up and jumped into the hot water. We stayed out their and looked at the stars and then drove to a free campervan park. We made dinner and hungout by a fire with two dutch boys that had been traveling around australia for almost a year.

The next day we didn’t want to do anything to strenuous, so we went to Little Millstream Falls. It was not far and was recommended by a man we met at the hot springs. It was a very beautiful spot that tourist did not usually go to. So it felt nice and private. We spent the day there. I did a watercolor painting of the falls. It felt good to take it easy. Then we headed back to Daintree. Daintree has a small tourist town where Ben’s friend Ann works at a café. She hung out with us while we drank beer and ate dinner. We went to Four Mile Beach the next day in Port Douglas. It was the closest beach that had a net in the water so that you could swim. You can’t swim in the ocean here without a net because there are salt water crocodiles and box jellyfish. There were a lot of people on the beach but it was a nice beach to lay in the sun and swim at. We headed back to Daintree in the afternoon and rowed to the farm to help with the fish harvest. They harvest their baramundi fish every monday. We got 118 fish from their pond and put them in coolers. I ate some for dinner for the first time, they were delicous.

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