I am calling this post “One For Young Players” for a very good reason which I hope will become clear as the post develops. The main aim of the post is as a testimonial to a public group, more importantly to two members of that public group.
I’m not going to name the group yet, nor the two particular members because I want to tell the story of just how these two blokes came into the life of a seventy -year old, overweight bloke who thought he was still 25! (I’m not going to name him yet either!)
So here we go. It all started when Dill (let’s call him that for the moment) decided that he was going to start bushwalking. He’d always done a bit of walking and fancied his chances, ‘If I can walk three km on sand in forty minutes, I reckon I can walk five km on grass in an hour!’
So, Dill decided that he’d start off with a “simple” little walk of fifteen km from Stanwell Park to Coledale using the Woodi Woodi track. He could catch a train to Stanwell Park and return by train from Coledale, it all made good sense to Dill.
At five km an hour, fifteen km should only take four hours at the most but to be safe, he’d allowed eight hours, arriving at Stanwell Park Station on the eight am. train and departing Coledale on the four pm. train. “Simples!!!”
He packed food, and snacks, a warm top and (just in case the weather really did the dirty on him) a waterproof; he had his old orienteering compass, cigarette lighter and his mobile phone, made sure that the “Boss” knew where he was going and how long he expected to be away.
Ticked all the boxes!
And off Dill toddles! A half hour from Stanwell Park station he found the beginning of the Woodi Woodi track and started along it, the going was OK, a little slower than he would have liked, but given the timeframe he’d allowed himself, no problem!
Two km in to the walk, Dill comes across a sign at a fork in the track, six km to Maddens Plains (his original choice!) or two km to Stanwell Park, not back on the same track he’d just walked but back to his start point on a different track.
‘Maddens Plains here I come’ he said to himself as he started off and not fifteen minutes later, after traversing two sets of eighteen inch high steps, he stopped, (realising that he had six km of this, because he could see the escarpment in front of him, all uphill at about forty-five degrees) and said, “bugger me, I’ll never get there!”
Dill retraced his steps to the signposts and the fork in the track, and that sign post really should have given him a clue as to what was in front of him because it said, in big bold letters “Rough Terrain Map Recommended – Do Not Leave Track!” and underneath it said “Stanwell Park Station 2km.”
So, according to the signage, Dill’s fifteen km bushwalk looked like turning into a four km stroll, he’d done two km to the fork already and the sign said he’d just two more km and he’d be back at the station. He could really take his time and just enjoy the birdlife (and the bloody leeches!) so he started off on the diversionary track. (He was right by the way, there was no way known that he would have made the trek up to Maddens Plains!).
Half an hour in he decided to have his lunch, got out the egg sandwiches, had water in a camel-back, and took half an hour to eat and look and listen. That was about eleven thirty and about twelve midday he was up and raring to go again.
By two o’clock he was about halfway there, maybe a little further, and down on all fours with cramp! Both Quads had locked up solid (Thighs) and calves of both legs were going out in support. Grovelling around in the mud he managed to get some relief after a while, so he got up and went on. Less that twenty metres later he was down again, almost crying with the pain.
After several attempts like this he heard someone coming up the track behind him and two blokes came into view. They were moving quite quickly and surely and when they came up to Dill asked him the obvious, and silly really, question, “are you alright?’ They soon realised that no, he wasn’t alright. They stayed with him for a while, assessing the situation and came to a decision.
“Listen Dill” they said, “we’ll go on in front and see how much further we have to go and come back for you.” ‘Sure you will’ Dill thought to himself being a native born cynic, ‘you’re bound to come back!’
And I suppose that now is as good a time as any to reveal Dill’s true identity for it was none other than my poor sorry self! By sheer good fortune, the two blokes who had joined me on the track were Paramedics on a day off, doing a bit of rough country training!
They, Sean and Sam, took off and I honestly did not expect to see either of them again. After about half an hour (and about thirty metres) Sean did actually come back! He returned with the news that the Station was only about six hundred metres away, that he had been in contact with his head office and that they were sending some more Paramedics out to help.
Sam had to catch a train so that he could pick up his kids from school, so it must have been around two-thirty by then. Sean was very reassuring, saying that we had at least two hours for me to walk out before dark, but with stints of maybe ten- twenty metres between cramp attacks and at least twenty minutes to recover each time, it was going to be a close run thing.
Half an hour or so later we were met by another Paramedic, John, who had some electrolytes and M&M’s, Sean had already forced a banana down me and some salt crackers.
To cut the story a little short, we made it out of the bush just as the light was fading, it took me two and a bit hours to do the last six hundred metres! And if it hadn’t been for those two, Sean and Sam and later John, I’m fairly sure that I would still have been there.
Now I said at the beginning of this post that it was to be a testimonial, and that’s what it is. A testimonial to the stupidity of a fat old man who didn’t know his limitations but more importantly to the Paramedics in general and Sean, Sam and John in particular.
Even worse, they wouldn’t let me take the train home, they were afraid I might lock-up or fall over in the train and it was decided that John would drive me home. By the way, when I finally did get out of the bush there was an ambulance waiting along with another Paramedic Norm and his vehicle.
John had already taken my vitals when he first met us on the track but the Ambos made me sit inside while they did a more exhaustive set of tests to make sure that hospitalisation wasn’t required.
I can’t thank those blokes enough! I think I would finally have made it out but it wouldn’t have been until the next day, not even I am stupid enough to try that sort of terrain in the dark! And I had no signal on my mobile, emergency only ( I suppose I would have used that as a last resort!
Once again, heartfelt thanks to Sean, for coming back in the first place, Sam for offering what he did and John for the coup de grace, Nerida in the ambulance and just Paramedics in general.
I think they are bloody fantastic!