Today was a biiiiiiig day! We knew it was going to be and we were out of our tents by 5.20am, no coffee, to hit the road. And a road we walked, 3 different ones around the side of Mt Murphy alternating between the wet and the dry side of the ridges, walking through rocky scree and back into wet gullies and dark rich smelling soil. The forest today was continuous and beautiful, full of life half-seen (not just mental snakes, aka snakes you think you see but aren’t actually there); wedge tail eagle pair, thorny devils, brumbies and a large black snake. The trees were tall and clacked together in the wind.
The jeep track led us to another intersection with the AAWT foot pad hidden behind a large fallen tree, the track has been out to trick us these last few days. It was when we left the jeep track that the forest really came alive. It was a serene too good to be true walk down a gradual slope on good track that led us to Buemba Hut site. The forest was open and unburnt, something often hard to find on the AAWT. We arrived in a daze to what felt like paradise, green meadows with a wooded creek on the far side, steep densely wooded slopes on all sides and 2 poplar trees, their tone of green made them stick out like intruders (which they are). We had walked 12kms and a 400m climb by 10.30, what a great morning!
After a lounge and drying out all our tents we continued on along the secret paradise valley following Buemba Creek. We spent the next 5kms bushbashing through tall grass into the snake pit (dubbed so by a friendly fisherman we met). We only saw one snake the whole time, but the mental snakes where everywhere. We followed the banks of the creek through sparse forest of wollybutts till we found the most perfect swimming hole of all time! The day had become very hot and sticky so we had a siesta and 2 leisurely swims. A tree had called across the creek making a wide bridge, with new shoots about 3m high growing from the half submerged trunk. The water flowed swiftly under the log which was perfect for lounging and dangling our feet in the water.
After some quiz time and some snoozing we dragged our rejuvenated bodies away from paradise and up the ridiculously long and steep climb to Johnnies Top. The 800m climb features track so steep you can’t stop or you will slip back down the mountain, numerous false summits and the longest 7kms of my life (longer that the 7kms to Gray Mare Hut). We arrived at camp to a very low sun teasing us of good views through the trees, we were too tired to stay up long after dinner.