By Bruce Greenhalgh
Fun(?) and failure in the Flinders.
The famous four were not, on this occasion, war, famine, pestilence and death, but wind, dust, prickles and dumb decision making. Firstly, the wind, and the Wilkatana ‘24’ will be distinguished from other 24s by the fact that the night before the actual event was as memorable as the rogaine itself. A wind of biblical proportions blew all night battering tents and camper vans and preventing sleep. The ferocity of the wind was attested to by it picking up the Hash House marquee and dumping it, damaged and canvas flapping, tens of metres from its original site.
Conversations the morning after routinely followed this pattern,
‘Did you camp here last night?’
‘Did you get any sleep?’
Details of the ordeal were then swapped: the fear of being blown away, the impossibility of sleep and descriptions of the dust that was the wind’s accomplice in camping damnation. A fine dust was blown into my tent and settled on everything. My sleeping bag was dusty, my pillow was dusty, my clothes were dusty and my mouth was dusty.
Admittedly, the prickles weren’t that bad, and we had been warned about them. Really, they were more a nuisance, but allied with the other ordeals they were a little hard to bear (straws and camel’s backs, that kind of thing). However, the discomfort they caused was nothing compared with the pain delivered by the fourth horseman, our dumb decision making. After a pretty ordinary performance we found ourselves at control 31 – one on the flat – with four kilometres to return to the Hash House and fifty minutes left. Control 52 beckoned, it was a chance to put a bit of a shine on our ordinary effort and it required only another kilometre. We were, surprisingly, running well at this point. It seemed possible. The safe and smart thing to do would have been to take the direct route back. We decided to try our luck instead. Wrong. Dumb.
Not only did we not find the control (we did, I’m sure, find the water course but…) it took longer than anticipated. The last thirty minutes were an exercise in running ourselves into the ground trying to reach an always too far away Hash House with our score literally ticking away. One hundred and thirty points lost. Give me a sock full of prickles and a mouth full of dust any day.
That was the bad, the good was the opportunity to visit Eyre’s Depot and put some reality to a place I’d read a fair bit about, it being famous in the annals of Australian exploration. It was also wonderful to again witness the scenery of the Flinders Ranges with its stunning gorges and inspiring range top views. Wonderful too, was the effort of the volunteers to resurrect the Hash House kitchen and stave off the reserve horseman, famine. My thanks to all concerned and, indeed, to all involved in the running of the event. Speaking of food there was another thing of wonder in the breakfast Linh Nguyen cooked for his team mates Stephen Warren-Smith and Tristan Williamson. I understand that Linh thought a cooked breakfast was the thing to have, and followed through. And it wasn’t the usual camp offering of a shrivelled fried egg or two with a snag either burnt to a crisp or near raw. No, this was a full repast that would put any restaurant to shame. Extraordinary. I don’t know if it was a good pre-event meal, but it looked delicious. The things you see at rogaines!
Perhaps you might want to try a full cooked breakfast in preparation for the next rogaine? It’s the ‘Another pine mess you got me into’ six hour in the Kuitpo Forest. I hope you’ll enter and while I can’t promise there’ll be no wind, and there will be some prickles (blackberries), I’m confident there won’t be any dust. As for the dumb decision making, well, that’s up to you.