Solo with a Subi Through the West Macdonnell Ranges (Part 3)
Feb 4 Sunday
Being alone at night in the wilderness makes me anxious. I keep looking over my shoulder inspecting the darkness, expecting to see god knows what, a crazy man coming at me from the bushes? In Canada, there are real things to be afraid of, like bears, and cougars. Here... not so much. Always when the morning comes, I realise that the fear was the most dreadful part of the evening. Once I was nuzzled up and cosy in my tent with a book (as much to keep me from thinking about horror films like wolf creek, as it is simply part of my bedtime ritual), I fell off to sleep effortlessly. When it comes to conquering fears, the only way out is through. Same goes for cultivating independence. I just have to DO it. And it's something that I have to work at constantly. Solo adventures are going on the "must do regularly" list, and even better if they're in the bush or somewhere that it's a challenge for me to be alone.
I've made a list to share with you some of the things I have to do (at some point) to get over the fear and hone my independence skills:
- Travel solo to India
-Create my own yoga sequence specifically for people like me, who have wrist/hand/elbow problems, and make a youtube video
-Launch a travelling fermenting school business
-Go back to uni (maaaaaybe hahaha)
-Build a home out of recycled materials out in the forest somewhere =)
Red bank Gorge
Today I decided to check out the Red Bank Gorge, which is the furthest stop in the park from Alice springs. It's also meant to be 4WD only. But the Subi ACED it! No problem at all. I'm super stoked at my car's abilities now that I've actually tested them. I got to the carpark, and once again, it is totally EMPTY, and only a 1.2km walk to the Gorge. I decided to take my camping chair and some snacks and settle in for the day.
I walked down to the water and was blown away by the beautiful scenery. The epitome of a desert oasis. The track was turning into really big rocks and the water getting more and more shallow, so I decided to set myself up in a nice shady spot and see the gorge later when it cools down.
While I was sitting in the water, enjoying my own little slice of paradise, and delighting in the solitude, I began relfecting how nice it would be if my friends were here to share this moment with me. For the first time since setting off on Thursday night, I started to feel lonely. But it reminded me to be grateful to have those precious memories with friends. And to be grateful to have those friends! A friend on almost every continent in fact. The thing about being a gypsy is you have no roots, no community, and no old ties to a place. But the advantage is to always have a fresh perspective, a new start when necessary, and you always make new friends wherever you go,
I stayed in that spot until about 4:30pm, when the sun finally became tolerable to walk through. I left my stuff in my spot, knowing there would be little to no one walking by anyways, and continued up towards the gorge. The path becomes quite rocky and a bit difficult to get through. Sturdy shoes are recommended. You have to cross the river a couple of times to get all the way though. The two seven year old girls who were there with their Dad put me to shame. Mad skills! Just flying over those rocks, no fear! I commended the Dad on his ability to remain chill and just let them be. I can imagine if I were a mother I'd be so anxious about them falling and hurting themselves!
When I reached the gorge at the end, I had to be annoyed with myself for spending the day up the river instead. It was certainly pleasant enough, but THIS was truly amazing. The pictures don't do it justice. It looked as though you could swim through at the end and go exploring through the rocks, but I was too scared to go by myself. Next time!", I thought. Another spectacular ending to a spectacular day. I set off back to the free camp site at the Finke River Two Mile bush camping site. This time, the partiers were gone and I got the good spot all to myself =)
I'd been getting into the habit of going to bed with the sun, which is about 8:30pm here in late summer. Mostly because of the massive amount of insects and mozzies that come out at night if you have a light on, but also because of my irrational fear of being alone in the woods after dark. Getting into my tent gives me a nice (false) sense of security =P
I was just about to fall asleep when I heard a car pull up. "Ug" I thought, as if I owned this place LOL. I heard a few cars pull in, and people talking, and after about ten minutes I realised one of their vehicles was bogged and they were trying to get it out. So I decided to get up and be neighbourly and see if they needed a hand. I went over and asked if they would like to borrow my shovel. There must have been about a dozen of them. 'No, thank you", they said. "I'm sure we'll be fine".
I went back over to my site and sat on the car to look at the stars because, sure enough, after ten more minutes, a couple of them came over and asked if they could borrow the shovel. And it worked, hooray! Celebrations. They brought my shovel back, and asked if I would like to join them for a beer. "No, thank you", I said, "I'm going to get up early for a hike tomorrow". And again, as soon as I started to fall asleep, noise...but this time loud music....arg! Just chill Liz, I thought, I'm sure they'll turn it off shortly. But after two more songs, I looked at my clock, it was 10:27pm. Nope, I wasn't having it. Cue Labrador brain!
I marched over to them and even though it was completely dark and I couldn't even see his face, I barked at the young fellow, "Oye! This isn't a backpackers hostel, it's a national park! People come here for the peace and quiet!"
"Can you turn the music off please!?"
"Yessssss..... We Caaaaaan" he said clearly in shock.
I stormed off muttering "it's 10:30!" (Oh dear Lord, I am getting so old).
Before I reached my tent I already had a bad taste in my mouth from my anger, as did they, I am sure. I immediately felt shame and disgust with myself. It was a good reminder of why I usually like to respond to situations with love and kindness rather than fear and hate. I can just imagine what they said after I left. "Miserable Bitch, no wonder she's camping alone". Of course they turned it off, but then started playing it again half an hour later. I'm fairly certain that if I'd asked them politely, like I usually do, they wouldn't have put it back on. But maybe not, who knows? But I know I would have certainly gone to bed without feeling shame and disgust at myself, and for that, it would have been worth it. Not to mention, for the rest of the trip, everytime I saw them I felt the shame all over again! And was too embarrassed to apologize.
Lesson. Truly. Learned.