Friday, 1 January 2021
It rained all night but just as we got up in the morning it stopped and the sun actually came out. Us and everyone else at the campsite (which was a mix of people like us on their first day, people going in the other direction on their last day, and at least one crazy person who had walked all the way in and was on their way out again) raced to get our stuff out in the sun to dry.
I was really relieved to get my coat dry on the inside as it had leaked badly the day before and the lining was still really damp. We sat on the beach to eat breakfast in the sun. With all this drying and absorbing of the sunshine we weren't fully packed until 9.30, which was unfortunately half an hour AFTER the rain came pouring down again - re-soaking our almost dry tent, and everything else that lay strewn about waiting to packed - AARGH! So we set off as the last party from the campsite, wet and cold and feeling a bit like chumps. A family with 3 primary aged kids, the HeavyPackers and the LightPackers had all managed to get going before us. I was a bit frustrated as we had a long day ahead of us (17kms), so starting out wet and late, certainly wasn't ideal. Still there wasn't much we could do about it but get going.
Happily by the end of the second beach the rain had pretty much stopped.
We caught up to the family of 5 by the end of the final beach section. Relieved to have asserted our hiking dominance over that family with those three small children we turned inland and towards the first big hill of our trip.
By the time we got to the top we had almost caught the heavy packers, but we stopped to have a break instead. We could now see the fabled Ironbound Range that we would have to cross the next day.
Heading down the other side we finally did overtake the HeavyPackers. I'd learnt the previous day that one of the HeavyPackers was actually pregnant as well - so we really showed those people carrying significantly heavier packs and unborn children how to eat our hiking dust.
Just as we were planning to stop for lunch another rain squall came but it was all over in 10 minutes leaving us free to settle down on one of the tarps for a longer break in the sun.
We still had a fair way to go so we restarted at a fairly decent pace - held up by the next three river crossings where we chose to de-shoe before crossing.
The first time we did all the shoe-offing, crossing, feet drying and re-shoeing only to go 5 minutes further and face another one! At which point the Pregnant HeavyPackers showed us what we were really made of (something soft) by simply tromping straight across and leaving us behind.
After the three crossings we had a long uneventful section across some gently undulating terrain. We were relieved to have duckboards for long stretches so mud wasn't really an issue at all for the first two days - I suspect the duckboards were part of the recent upgrades to this end of the track.
By about 4pm we finally reached our final crossing of the Louisa River, just before the campsite. It was pretty deep (up to my thighs), and flowing pretty fast so we didn't dare to cross in bare feet over the slippery rocks.
The campsite by the river was really nice and we quickly (compared to the day before anyway) set up our tent sites and tarp and settled in for the evening. The LightPackers had arrived just before us and the Pregnant HeavyPackers just after us.
After our long day it was really nice to enjoy a hot chocolate by the river before bed.