It’s been a while, I know, it’s just that I’ve been so caught up in the wonders of Sydney! (ha….)
I’m officially a week behind, soooo I have some catching up to do.
Last weekend, Matt, Mimi, Michael, and I decided to go on a last minute camping trip. We figured, hey, we’re in Australia, we need to see some nature. So right after our Friday class (in which we made Aboriginal inspired art paintings! Fun!) the four of us hopped on a train to Royal National Park.
Now when I say the plans were last minute, I mean Matt, Michael, and I jumped on board at the last minute. Mimi already had these plans figured out, but her traveling companion dropped out on her a day before. So the three of us graciously decided to give the poor girl some company on her already reserved backpacking excursion.
Here’s the problem: I like nature and I like hiking… sometimes. When the four of us boarded the train to Royal National Park, Mimi informed us that the hike to the campground was 6 miles. Ouch. Okay, that’s not so bad. Honestly, 6 miles is probably the maximum for me on a good day. Alright, I can manage this. Then she told us that the hike the second day would be 12 miles. WHAT??!? Internally I started panicking. See, I am not a fan of walking. I have small feet, they start to ache easily. Plus, I’m a bit of a baby and I just don’t enjoy walking long distances. Especially since I knew it would be a challenging hike. Cue a constant inward panic that would last the rest of the day….
When we started, I tried hard not to think about the next day’s hike. The four of us kept ourselves entertained with riddles as we transversed the beautiful coastal trail. The views were exceptional and we were able to stop occasionally and climb out onto some rock formations that extended into the ocean. Overall, everything was going better than expected...until around mile 4.
Flies. Everywhere. They appeared very suddenly and covered our backs within minutes. They were a constant swarm of buzzing around our heads, and the four of looked like Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Men trying to keep those suckers off of our faces. It was miserable. Or at least I was miserable. Miss I Like Nature Sometimes was not having fun anymore. By the time we got to the campground, I was seriously about to lose it. I immediately threw on my windbreaker and kept my hood up in an attempt to deter the flies (It worked a little).
In the mean time, Matt began to set up the poop tent. Yes, the poop tent. He purchased a $20 tent at Aldi’s (equivalent of Trader Joe’s) the day before. Except this tent is meant to conceal a portable toilet...only he didn’t buy the portable toilet. He decided that we could easily just turn the poop tent on its side and sleep in it that way. He wasn’t exactly wrong either. On its side, the poop tent can easily fit two people. Great.
Fortunately it got dark (and chilly) not long after we arrived, and the flies left us in peace. The four of us sat on the beach and played in the sand until it was too dark for us to see. Then we witnessed an incredible phenomena out over the ocean. A lightning storm was flashing non stop over the distant sea. The sky flashed pink, orange, blue, and red, and I watched lightning strikes bigger and brighter than I’ve ever seen in my life. It was truly an incredible moment and probably my best experience here to date.
When the four of us finally agreed to get some sleep, Matt and I skeptically climbed into our poop tent (okay, only I climbed skeptically into the poop tent). It didn’t feel all that uncomfortable at first. Matt and I put on our sweats and laid out a sheet below us and above us (I know, great camping gear) before settling in for the night.
That. Night. Was. Torture. Neither of us slept. The ground was as hard as a rock and our single bed sheet did nothing to soften the ground. Even though we’d initially been sweating in our warm clothes, the ground eventually sapped all of our body heat and we laid there shivering for most of the night.
The next morning Matt and I got up early because, you know, no sleep and all. He left the tent and I stayed inside, inwardly crying and screaming from the lack of sleep and knowledge of the hike ahead of me. Then, as I sat there in self pity, it dawned on me that the flies had returned. They were buzzing around the tent, desperately trying to enter to undoubtedly crawl inside my ears.
That’s when I lost it. I threw a tantrum and refused by all costs to participate in this 12 mile hike. Matt nearly agreed with me (from lack of sleep), but wasn’t entirely convinced. Michael and Mimi were feeling a bit sorry after having consumed nearly entire box of wine the night before, but insisted they attempt this monster of a hike. Eventually, after some convincing, Matt agreed that this day was too hot, too full of flies, and he was too devoid of sleep. He and I traveled back along the 6 mile route while Michael and Mimi chose the 12 mile.
Matt and I were happy with our choice. At first. Then after 3 miles (at which point the flies were beginning to recede) we received a text from Mimi explaining they had found a car park within a short distance of the campground and hitchhiked back home. I wanted to be mad. I really wanted to be mad. But honestly, the flies were disappearing and the day was just too beautiful. I ended up enjoying the 6 mile hike more on the second day than the first. I guess that’s what happens you’re Miss I Like Nature Sometimes.
At the train station, Matt and I ran into some fellow backpackers who made small talk with us. From them we learned that this whole “fly epidemic” is extremely uncommon. It seemed that we had decided to go hiking right after the flies had hatched out of their eggs. They’d likely all be gone within a few weeks.
Cue inward screams.
The rest of the weekend was full of sleep. The little excursion had ruined Matt and I’s sleeping schedule and so we took naps on and off until Monday morning.
Hope you enjoyed the story.