The Journey Of A Life Time
Posted 06 October 2004 - 12:39 PM
My track adventure began on the 27th of June 2004. Our group was set to leave Port Moresby for Kokoda, in the early hours of Sunday morning. During that day, it was raining heavily, and the whole city of Port Moresby, was covered with dark clouds. Usually, at this time of the year, it doesn?t rain, it sort of came unexpectedly for most of us. Well, nature has its own way of calling.
My younger sister, Ilyana and I were delayed twice for our flight to Kokoda. While the rest of the group traveled ahead of us, (what a pity). But eventually we left Port Moresby, which was GOOD. Because, I was looking forward to going, since the day I got the news that, I was walking the Kokoda Trail. We left Port Moresby, at around 1:45pm, and it took us 20 minutes to get there.
We were briefed earlier on, by our trek guide, Eric Uwea, who left with the rest of the group on the first flight that, as soon as we get to Kokoda. We would meet with our personal porters, Glenn Hansen and Rod Ori. So when we arrived at Kokoda, we not only meet with our porters, but a couple of boys from the station as well. They were all very nice; the boys sang, cracked jokes and laughed along the way. It was nice being around them.
Me, (Jessie) crossing the creek to the other side. Quite scary too, the water is moving very fast. Got to be very careful
Posted 06 October 2004 - 12:47 PM
After looking around for a while we headed for our first camp site, Hoi Village. Along the way we came and passed Kovelo and Mudulu. Both villages were all silence, not only were in silence, there was no one around, probably that was why. The only thing I heard were the enchanting sounds of the insects in the bushes and the whistling of the birds flying above us.
It took us two and a half hour to get to Hoi. The track from Kokoda station to Hoi was not too bad, a little bit of ups and downs, but mostly it was straight. We passed a couple of creeks on the way; actually, that was just the same creek we were going across the whole time, the creek was sort of going around in circles. . When walking toward the camping area, a voice called out in the Popondetta language and welcomed us. Indeed, it felt really good to be welcomed in such manner.
Everyone was there at the camp, looking a bit tired, I guess? Tom Polley (father), walked over to me and asked, what took Ilyana and I so long to get there. And I told him that we were delayed twice. I thought that was very sweet of him, at least someone thought about us.
Even though everyone looked tired, there was still enough strenght to go play a game of volleyball. The volleyball court was at one end of the village and we were on the other side. We were sort of divided by these little creek in the middle. But that didn't stop us from going and playing.
The kids from Hoi village were fantastic, they played spectacularly. I didn't think they'd play that well, they certainly did, proved me wrong. It was a good game, only time caught up with us, and we had to return to our camp site to wash in the icy cold creek water and get prepared for the evening meal.
Dinner was delicious; everyone enjoyed it, especially the richly creamed coconut banana. For most of the trekkers they didn't know, whether the banana was a banana or a sweet potato.
Ilyana looking very brave. All smiles, as she crosses the creek
Posted 06 October 2004 - 12:53 PM
That night, it was cool, with a little bit of showers coming. That didn?t bother us at all, we all set around in the little wind house, doing our own thing. Some trekkers told stories; others were cracking jokes and laughing. While the rest of us, sat next to the fire, keeping warm.
Not only did we feel warm around the fire, there was also hot water, provided by the porters, and given to us to drink, either, coffee, tea or milo. A cup of coffee, was shared between, Ilyana and myself. We didn?t want to drink too much. Think about it! Who wants to go looking for the toilet in the night?
We were later joined by the company of James McRae, the youngest member of our trek group. He decided that, since everyone was busy talking and doing whatever staff, he wanted Ilyana and I, to teach him pidgin? He found it very interesting just listening to us talking in Pidgin. This was good, now somebody volunteered to learn pidgin on the first night. We did a little bit of teaching. James was catching up pretty well.
On Monday, around 5:30 the next morning, our guide, Eric Uwea woke us all up, to have breakfast and get prepared for the second day walk. The place was still dark, we had to use our torches to give us enough light to look at where we were going. I was amazed to see that, all the porters all awake and already prepared our breakfast to eat. Breakfast was good, once breakfast was over, everyone gathered all their staff, it was time for us to walking.
I was told by Rod, my porter that, the first mountain to climb was called the, ?Test Mountain?. I asked why? And he said, ?It?s a pretty big mountain to climb, and for beginners like us, it was sort of like a test to all of us, to see how fit we were?.
How convenient!! The test mountain had about six falls peak. Meaning, if you come up to a plateau at the top, it wasn?t the end. You?ll keep going up, until you?ve completed all six of them. Indeed it was a big climb and a pretty good one for a start too. We climbed up all through the way non stop. Well, there were some stops we did, for fetching water and resting. Along the way, we met up with another bunch of trekkers, only they were going the opposite direction.
One of the guys, tapped me on the shoulder, and said to me.? Come on mate, your getting there, just take a deep breathe in, and slowly breathe out, you?ll do just fine?. That was nice of him, because his little advice did turn out to be a big help along the way. Good for them, they?re almost to the end of their trail, lucky buggers. But not for us, ours was just the beginning, we still had a long way to climb though, seemed to me the mountain was going on forever.
At one stage, I asked Rod, if we were almost there. And he said. ?We still had about, another four more falls peak to climb. Pretty tough, I should say, for me. I didn?t do much training to be on this trekking expedition. So this was a really big challenge for me. And I?m just looking forward to it. Normally it would take five hours to get to the top, but it took us four hours to get there. It all depends on how fast or slow you walk.
At the top was Isurava village, but that wasn?t where, our camp sight was. We stopped there just to have lunch, before we continued on. Lunch was okay, I didn?t feel like eating that much, I had one boiled corn, three small potatoes and two mandarins. The land owner brought some coke, which he sold for K5.
Everyone bought one each, and drank, I didn?t want to drink mine, because, we still had a long way to go, and incase I might want to drink it later on. So I stored mine in my bag. Lunch was over, and it was time to move on to our second camp site, Isurava Battle Field. To walk from, Isurava village to the Battle Field, it would take us another 25 minutes to get there.
For that track, it was slippery and there were a lot of tree roots protruding out of the ground. But we were very careful, the roots were much too slippery then the ground itself. Ilyana didn?t fall one bit nor did I, but she did a pretty cool ground surf. Apart from that, we were the first ones to reach the Battle Field. We were later on joined by our fellow trekkers.
The camp site was beautiful, the whole place was so green and the grasses were neatly trimmed. Not to mention, with all the monuments there, the place was just perfect. We all went down to read the monument and take some pictures. I red most of them, tells more about events that took place during the war.
Out of all those that I read, there was this particular one that really struck me. It was about Private Bruce Kingsbury, the monument tells about his courage, bravery and how he died, not only that, the monument was put just two feet away from were he was, when he was shot dead.
James McRae the youngest trekker in the group, looks like his enjoying himself crossing the creek:
Posted 06 October 2004 - 12:59 PM
Our night at the Battle Field was really nice. While we were waiting for our meal, the Polley family decided to teach us, how to play a card game called, ?U-NO?, it was really nice and also a funny game. The meal was prepared in the wind house. So we all sat around playing card, at the same time keeping ourselves warm around the fire. Meal was ready, and it was time to eat.
Dinner was excellent, with a nice hot coffee to go with, everything went down just right. Although it was raining and getting cold in the night, it was much warmer in the wind-house and the guest house, so there was nothing much to worry about, except to just sleep well, and dream about the next day?s walk.
Rise and shine for the next morning. We had pen cakes, peas and ox & palm for breakfast, yummy! And as usual, with a nice cup of coffee to go with, it was splendid.
Weather looked okay with no rain; only the sky was dominated with dark clouds. After breakfast and everything else was done, it was time for us to start walking. Along the way, the porters sang so many beautiful songs in all different languages, but mostly from Popondetta. I didn?t really know what they meant exactly, but I liked the sounds of the songs. The track wasn?t that bad, but still slippery though. We came to Alola, which was about two hours walk from the Battle Field, to rest for a little while, before moving on.
There at Alola the people brought some ripped bananas and mandarins for us to eat. When we had enough rest, we started walking, on our way down a mountain, I slipped, but luckily Nathan Keen was there in front of me, I just went straight for him, and almost made us both fall, thankfully we didn?t. The trail was mostly descending and crossing creeks. The creek waters were, magnificent and tasted really good, like ice water from the deep freezer, very much fascinating.
At one stage, I was leading the way in front, and I was followed by Ilyana, Tom Polley Jnr, Mark Polley and Rod. I came across this snake lying across the middle of the track, with its head in the bush; I didn?t know whether it was dead or alive. When I saw it, I just said,? OH MY GOSH!! SHIT, SHIT, SNAKE! I started moving backwards, to the guys coming behind me. Tom moved over to me and asked.
What it was? And I just said snake, snake and I kept moving back. Tom told Ilyana and me to move back, behind him so that Rod would check it out, before we moved on. Mark held my hand and pulled me up to a rock which he was standing on. But, to my surprise, the freaking snake was already dead. Very funny, ha.. ha.. ha.. How embarrassing.
Along the way it was raining a little, but when we got to Iora creek, it started raining heavily. And the once known as Iora creek, now looked like a raging storm angry river. Iora creek was where, our third camp site was, but on the other side.
And in order to get there, we have to cross the creek itself. We had come along way by now, and I was already starving. The porters knew that we were hungry. They prepared lunch for us to eat. While we were eating, the porters and guide, worked on making a new bridge for us to cross. Because, the previous one, had already been swept away by the fast flowing water.
It was quite scary and dangerous too, but the porters were skillful, they went out of there way, just to get us all safely across. And that is what I call true, Fuzzy Wuzzy Angles. The bridge was done in no time, and it was time for us to cross.
We were assisted by porters at all corners of the bridge, incase something might go wrong. But as usual, everything worked out just right for us, we all went safely across. On the other side, we climbed the last mountain before reaching our third camp site. With the rain coming, the ground was even slippery and difficult to get a grip. But luckily our support sticks were there to support us. I didn?t really enjoy the weather that night, but I certainly enjoyed the company of Michaela Hamilton and James.
On our forth day, the track was getting pretty hard. This time it was more about climbing mountains, and I mean, BIG, mountains. The track was as usual, slippery, not too muddy this time but, a lot of tree roots growing out of the ground and like I said, the roots were more slippery than the ground. Actually, there were two mountains we had to climb. The first mountain had about, eight falls peak.
Can you just imagine that? Mahn! Walking up was never ending, we came past Templeton 2 and kept going until we got to Templeton 1, were we rested for a bit and then continued on. Templeton?s 1 and 2 were still part of the eight falls peak, so we haven?t actually got to the second mountain yet. Both my thighs and calf mussels started aching, but I didn?t want that to bother me with my walk.
So I decided to forget about the pain, and concentrate on my walking. Finally, we came to the end. We crossed Iora creek the second time and went to the other side to rest and have lunch to regain our strength, before continuing on with the next mountain, Mt Bellamy. The ridge of Mt Bellamy is the highest point of the whole trail.
Polley family, from left [Tom (jnr), Tom (father), Jacqui, Steven, Robert and Mark. At the Kokoda airstrip, after arriving from Port Moresby:.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:03 PM
Mt Bellamy was steep, and there were a lot of turns that we did, going up. The ground around that area was strong, because; it was a nice sunny day. After those rainy days we went through, it was a relief. Anyway, climbing up that mountain itself was really tiring though.
But thinking that going up was hard; think again, coming down is even harder, I twisted my right ankle for the first time just going down, and it was pretty painful. There were a lot of the tree roots, and we had to be extra careful, how we maneuver downward and what we step on. I guess? I wasn?t looking at where I was going, well it served me right. Because of me, Eric Ilyana and I, were the last ones to get to our forth camp site, Tin Roof. That night I was so tired, after doing a lot of climbing, so I took an early nap, straight after dinner.
On the fifth day, it was okay, the track was balanced. Well, not actually balanced, but it was good, though it was a very long walk. Satisfying for me, though I had no idea how the others felt.
There was this particular mountain we climbed before reaching Naduri, with waterfall coming down and we had to walk along side it. It was so beautiful, with the trees that grew over our heads, it made the place dark, but with the little rays of sun light penetrating, the place looked picturesque or should I say, magical.
Scott Richards, the look on his face says it all - looking a bit exhausted, climbing up the "Test Mountain". But he's hanging in there!.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:04 PM
Micheala Hamilton, jokes and have a laugh with the trek guide Eric Uwea, as she crosses Iora Creek.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:10 PM
The next day we walked from Efogi 1 to Menari which was quite a distance but worth it. We climbed a mountain first; at the top of it, we could see the whole Efogi village. We continued climbing until we got to Brigade hill were we stopped, to view the great scenery from the top. The view was fabulous because we could see everything from the top.
Up at Bragade Hill, from left: Michaela, Nathen Keen, Sarita Lawler and Scott.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:12 PM
Although, it was just 10:35 am, it looked as if it was passed midday. The sun was shining and the place was so hot. We were almost to our sixth camp site, Menari. We didn?t have lunch along the way, because it was too early to have lunch, besides, the camping area was not far. But I was starving, my whole body was weak and I couldn?t even lift one leg up to follow the others. Rod was beside me the whole time; he was really supportive, he encouraged me and made me focus on my walk, until I reached the camp site. I guess? A lot of climbing and walking must have consumed most of my energy. The villagers brought fruits for us to eat, they were very nice. One of the girls from the village let us use her line to hang our wet clothes, after washing.
That evening, Tom (Jnr) and I walked around the village giving balloons and lollies to the kids in the village, which was fun and enjoyable. But at the same time, it was the villagers Sabbath day, and the place was quiet, and there weren?t many children around, because most of them had gone to church. The place was getting darker, and Salvador, one of the food porters, came looking for us. It was our dinner time. When we got back to the camp sight, everyone had already eaten. Ilyana served my food and left it on the side, so that when I got back, I?ll just eat my meal, someone did the same for Tom.
Tom Polley (snr), asisted by a porter across the bridge, but did not find enough balance, he looks up to get support from Nathen, with a stick.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:13 PM
The seventh day, we walked from Menari to Naoro. Most of this track was straight and muddy, although it didn?t rain on our side last night, the previous night, it must have rained a bit somewhere there, before us. When we were almost to Naoro, we came across this path. It was just indescribable; there were this bunches of bamboo like trees that grew in a straight line. And we had walked through them, it looked so lovely; unfortunately, I didn?t take any pictures of that place. After walking a fair bit of flat trekking, the last thing to do was to climb. The mountain had about three falls peak. When I reached the top, I wanted to stop and rest for a while, but then changed my mind and continued walking, until I got to the camp sight.
That evening, the kids at Naoro Community School came to our camp site to perform a couple of songs for us; it was sort of like, welcoming us into their land.
That was really nice of them. But before they did that, the children gave each of us bunches of flowers, how sweet; and then they performed. The Polley family gave books and two soccer balls to them; actually they weren?t the only ones who received those gifts. The other villages that we camped previously also received the same. Thank you to the Polley family, now they have soccer balls to play with, coloring books and color penciles.
The boys enjoying the touch footy game at Efogi 1, (airstrip). Fron left: Eric, Steven, Iman and David.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:17 PM
Day eight, our walk was from Naoro to Uberi creek, it was quite a long distance, more mountains to climb, lots of going down hills and slippery with a lot of tree roots growing out from the ground. From where we started climbing, it was hard. Because the ground was strong and the gravels were very slippery, and it was partly dangerous climbing up all the way to Maguli Range, and it was quite high too. But going down, the ground was wet and slippery. Glenn, Rod, Ilyana, James, the other porters and I, came afterwards, while the rest of the group went ahead with Eric and the other food porters.
We left James and his pals behind and the four of us went ahead. When we got to the bottom of the mountain, there was a creek, Eric was waiting for us there, actually he was waiting for the whole group to go and then, he'll follow. Ilyana and I took our shoes off to cross the creek; the creek was about knee level.
When we got to the other side we wore our shoes and continued on, our porters needed to rest a bit and fetch their water and follow behind us, so Ilyana and I left them and went ahead.
I was walking a bit fast, so I was way ahead of Ilyana. Suddenly, I heard footsteps of boots running past me; at first, I thought it was Ilyana, but it wasn't her. She was about twelve feet away from me, when I turned to see. So I though it was just nothing, and I kept walking up.
And to my surprise I heard it again. This time it was so clear and so real, I actually felt people running behind me, coming around to my side, and then going in front of me. That was it, I just freaked out, I kept turning around to see if Ilyana was right behind me. I actually had goosebumps around my neck, hands and my legs as well, I mean, how bizarre is that!
I was really scared; I just couldn't stop turning around to check, if Ilyana was right behind me. Anyway, when I reached the top, I didn't want to continue on, I stopped and waited for Ilyana to come up, so that we'll walk together. To be honest, I was totally freaked out, but I didn't want to show it. When Ilyana got to were I was, I didn't want to tell her about what I heard, I wanted to tell her when we got to our camp site!
On our way down, we were joined by our porters plus another food porter, John. Going down was like forever, you think you're almost there, no way, dream on, you're still going down, and doing a lot of turns. Along the way, somehow I got my right ankle stuck in one of the roots, and I twisted it. I screamed out so loud, I was on the verge of crying. I felt as though my ankle bone just broke, I couldn't even feel my leg. John asked if I was okay, and I said yes, but the truth was, I wasn?t okay at all. I just didn't want my leg to hold me back, so I kept walking, actually I was limping. I think that was the biggest limp I've ever done in my life.
John, Glenn and Rod knew I wasn't okay, but they didn't say anything. When we got to Ofi creek, everyone had already eaten lunch. Ilyana and I joined in; we didn't feel like eating our usual lunch, so Glenn and Rod boiled noodles for us to eat. Tom (jnr) and Robert were really nice, they checked on us to see if we were okay, and even told us that there was still enough food for us to go eat. Ilyana and I said, thank you. We ate ours and then waited for James and the rest to join in. After they came and ate their share, we all started walking again. We crossed Ofi creek about sixteen times, before we started climbing Imita ridge.
Ilyana and I at Uberi. Our last day walk and we are back in Port Moresby.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:19 PM
That was really stupid of me, because my whole body was dehydrated and I was so thirsty, but I didn't want to stop, I kept going until I reached the top to sit and rest for a while; Scott asked me how I was feeling, and I told him that I was exhausted. When Ilyana came up with Eric, I asked her for some water, and to my relieve she gave me some.
The rest was over now, and we had to walk down to our camp site, which was roughly about an hour and a half. The way ahead of us was very slippery and lot of turns to maneuver. I think I twisted my right ankle twice going down. It was getting late, but we managed to reach our camp sight with enough time to go take a quick bath in the creek. There was also another group of trekkers from a different trekking company there too, so we shared the same camping area.
The whether wasn't too good, we had showers, and the whole place was wet. Not to mention, leech, I truly dislike those parasites, I can't even stand them; they just give me the creeps. I had about four to five of them on my feet, ur!ur!ur. I tried to pull them off and they just couldn't even come off, they were like magnet stucked on my feet. I couldn't stop screaming and saying, Take it out!! Glenn had to take every one of them out off my feet. Steven thought that I was Ilyana and told her to keep the noise down. Poor, Ilyana had to get my blame.
The next morning, I walked over to Steven while helping Rod fold our tent, I apologized to him. He smiled and said, 'na that's okay, I was just joking.
Polley famiy up at Bragade Hill.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:21 PM
The group, all ready to leave Port Moresby for Kokoda.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:22 PM
We then went to Bomana War Cemetery, to have a last look around before we headed back to our homes and hotels, to prepare ourselves for the presentation of our certificates at Gateway Hotel that evening. This was the end, of my trek.
Arriving at Kokoda, the trekkers were all welcomed by the Kokoda dancing group in traditional outfits, singing and dancing.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 01:25 PM
Kokoda Trail, hasn?t only made me meet new lovely people, but has taught me so much about life. Though it was tough, it has taught me how to be strong, independent and also to have faith in myself.
Ilyana and I, all smiles we've finally finished the trek. Owers Conner..
Posted 20 March 2009 - 06:40 PM
That was a great story,everyone about to do the track should read it.Thankyou.
Non semper erit aestas.
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