Refuge Cove

Wilsons Prom 60 – didn’t go to plan but the dip was worth it

28 December 2017

On Sealers Track
On Sealers Track

Originally I planned to go to the mountains and do Langfords Gap – Mt Hotham return (58 km). I was supposed to catch up with Paul somewhere on the trails there.
Last minute plan change resulted in me not being prepared for THIS run.

Woke up at 2.45 after a tossing-and-turning kinda night, only had one coffee (usually have a double and a single espresso), watched the uneventful sunrise on the way to the Prom. Before Fish Creek I had a near miss with a koala. Yes, ABS works as it’s supposed to. By the time I’ve reached for the phone to take a close up, the koala has waltzed into the bush. Showers on the way to Tidal River and as I started the watch. The camping was full, I’ve never been here before NYE.

I wasn’t in a rush – wanted to make the most of my last trip to the Prom this year. Gosh, I missed this place!!! It was a warm, humid morning. Had goose bumps as the cold rain drops were hitting my skin. Quite a few cars at Telegraph Saddle, but haven’t seen anyone there. At Windy Saddle there was a man fiddling with his pack and a boy wetting the bushes. His face was covered by the leaves, could see everything else, though. He ran sheepishly to his dad when I said hello.

Sealers Beach
Sealers Beach at high tide

Sealers Tk was quite dry, very few muddy patches to hop over and the board walk was nicely cleaned – thanks Parks Victoria!! Saw a tent and a bivvy at the start of the board walk, then a few hikers before reaching Sealers Cove. Thought I’d use the toilet there, but the smell as I opened the door was revolting, so I gave that a miss. Sealers was at high tide – I knew it, because I’ve checked the tides, but have never seen it like this before. There was blue bottle on the beach – no wonder no one is in the water. Took my shoes off and jogged a little until I saw a guy walking in the water… I was thinking maybe he is trying to avoid the deep bit… Then I saw someone in a Two Bays t-shirt and asked him if I could take a picture of him with the high tide. By the time he said yes, I pretty much took the shot. Then we started talking about the tide, Two Bays and stuff like that… in the mean time the other guy arrived, we introduced each other. Tim [Baldwin] already knew who I was (I was convinced he is Tim Woods… what a mistake!). Him and his brother Kingsley were about to head back to Tidal River.

Sealers Creek at high tide
Crossing Sealers Creek at high tide

We said goodbye and I headed into the above waist water, then turned around and asked Tim to take a photo, which he did. Thanks Tim!!

On the other side there was a lady and many kids. We had a quick chat while I was putting my shoes back, then I got going. The camp was full, I sloshed (wet pants and all) across and off on the track. Water was trickling down from my clothes, straight into my shoes… not sure how effective taking my shoes was.

I’ve bumped into many hikers on my way – won’t get into details. Some of them were nice, others were indifferent and just said “Hi”. I chatted with a few (the nice ones) – they kept popping up in the most unexpected places.

One of my favourite beaches
One of my favourite beaches

So far I’ve been eating every half hour – a biteful or two, not too much, just to keep my energy levels up. My plan was to carry 1 l of liquid (500 ml of water and 500 ml of sour cherry juice) until Refuge Cove and fuel up with water there, while trying to pace the sour cherry juice to last to the Lighthouse. When I finally got to Refuge Cove, the first thing I’ve noticed the 5 boats in the bay. “How good is that?!” – I thought. Then I saw a family with a dog on the beach… the sign clearly says no cats, dogs or firearms in the National Park. I thought what kind of example that man shows to his kids… at the camp ground I headed straight to the tap. There were lots of tents there and the smell of the toilets hit me from quite a distance. There was a young lady filling up her flask at the hardly trickling tap. I stood there with my 500 ml soft flask for a minute or two, then I turned around and headed back to the track. There was no way I’d spend 10 minutes there to fill up my flask. I was hoping I’ll find water at Lt Waterloo Camp. When I had reception I’d message Otto (that I am at x km and doing OK), then had a quick fb chat with Evgeni… didn’t move while this was happening so the thing sends.

I started to get worried about this whole water thing, because I was sipping on the sour cherry juice – which was very nice by the way – just not such a good idea, as I didn’t feel like eating anything. A bit like having a dessert before lunch.

Decision Rock
Waterloo Bay from the Decision Rock

The tap at Lt Waterloo was dry. Saw people with yellow water in their plastic bottles, probably waiting for it to clean. I had two purifying tablets but the thought of filling the soft flask with that not-so-healthy-looking water and then drinking the chlorine tasting result somehow didn’t appeal. Of course, as a last resort, I’d do it.

I decided to have a dip at Waterloo Beach and that kept me positive and going. There was a group of youngsters playing cards when I got there, said hello, I took my shoes off and started jogging, eyeing a spot where I could stop for the dip. A couple was coming from the opposite direction, the girl was limping a little, her knee was bandaged. Asked her if she needed anything, maybe more bandage. She said she’s OK. Asked them where they are heading to – they said Refuge Cove and asked whether it was far and whether it was straight forward getting there. I assured them it’s not that far and the track is easy to find – they can’t get lost.

Then I took my clothes off and went for that long awaited dip. Water felt really good and I wished I could stay longer. Managed to delay the starting migraine with a bit of cold water on the back of my head, but I knew that’s not over, yet. Putting the already wet clothes onto wet skin was like trying to get into a wetsuit. Jogged nearly to the beach exit (gosh they need to fix that sign – can’t see it from the distance), changed socks, then turned to start the climb, when I saw a few kids taking pictures. Then the parents… they asked me how far the turnoff to Telegraph Tk is and if it’s easy to see.

Didn’t find the hike out that bad this time, perhaps because compared to the Alps this was not a big deal, but can’t say it was easy, either. I was really thirsty, had the sour cherry juice and the little vitamin juice from the Virgin lounge (150 ml??), still hoping I’ll find water in that creek I always filled up from. I was pretty much walking like a zombie. Could hear water flowing in the valley, but didn’t feel like bush bashing… then I finally got to that creek with plenty of water. Climbed down and somehow filled up the flask (a bit like doing push ups), had the half of it, then filled it up again. I decided to fill up everything at the Lighthouse and rather carry extra than run out of water again. Saw a few hikers with water bottles in their hand – told them to be careful with the water, there’s not much along the way.

The obligatory Lighthouse door touch

At the junction I saw a backpack on the ground. Its owner obviously didn’t want to lug it up to the Lighthouse. I soon saw him and chatted with him a bit about water – of course. He said that if the tap at Lt Waterloo is not working I could go further up and get water from there. He also said there is plenty at Roaring Meg (which I knew). I asked him which way he’s going, he said he’s heading to Moaring Reg and will camp there. We had a laugh. Told him I’ll probably catch up with him on the way there.
I promptly filled up the flask at the Lighthouse and had half on the spot, then headed to the toilet (after checking all the corners for snakes, of course). There was soap!!! How nice?! It was a strong, cold wind – had to put the Bonatti on, then I took the customary selfie at the door.

When I was about to go back to the tap, I saw a boy and thought I know him… fair enough Renata (the ranger lady) appeared and was really happy to see me as was I to see her. She greeted me like an old friend – it felt really good. Then asked me if I was OK. Told her not 100% and she asked if she could get me anything. Told her if she had anything fizzy, that would be great. She brought a blue Hydralite and a glass and mixed it for me – such a beautiful gesture!!! Then Sean appeared – the guy I saw at the Prom a few other times with his son. He is training for the Marathon des Sables. We had a chat, then I thanked them and said good bye and headed down.

I was getting warm and took the Bonatti off, then thought I MUST eat something and take two Panadols, otherwise the migraine will make it way harder than it already is. I somehow swallowed two bites of one of the sandwiches and had two tomatoes, then took the Panadols. The two hikers coming towards me didn’t know what was happening and looked at me very strangely.

I tripped many times and hit my toes today. There was a bit of cursing happening… realised the Sense Pro 2 is definitely not the best shoe for the Prom. Should’ve worn the Sense Pro Max for this – next time!!

Otto called me once I was on Telegraph Tk and back in Reception World. Told him what the situation is – can’t run but walk as fast as I can and not to worry.

Tried to jog, but every time I gave it a go, I felt nauseous, forcing me to speed walk instead. At Roaring Meg – there was plenty of water – saw the hiker I spoke to at the Lighthouse earlier. He just got there. He asked me about where I came from and where I am heading. When I told him he seemed shocked. Like others before, he asked if I do this in one day. Told him yes, and my best time is 10:17 and that’s not a big deal, others can do it in about 6 hours, I am a back of pack runner. Told him about the Prom Run and the other two distances – you never know!!

I was at about 46 kms when Otto rang again, worried because he lost the signal. Told him not to worry, still can’t run, but will walk as fast as I can.

The flies!!! Gosh, they are a nightmare!! Stopped at Half Way Hut (first time) and got some water in the flask I’ve been drinking from. It was rain water and a bit luke warm, so maybe the tap water from the Lighthouse is a better choice. At least it’s cleaner.

Don’t know how I did the sandy 4WD track to Oberon Bay – just wanted to get over it. At Oberon Bay, there were quite a few people on the beach – they looked at me strangely when I appeared, waving the flies away with my white triangle bandage. The beach brought on some more pain – the March flies!!! I hit a few, but two managed to bit me, so my arm is now not so pretty with the red marks… couldn’t wait to get out of there. It was low tide but had to step through the flowing creek, so sloshing was on the cards on the way up. 5.7 km to Tidal River!! Let’s do it!

I was hoping the big flies go away once I get off the beach… I was wrong. One of them kept following me until I hit it. I was also hoping for that thunderstorm – didn’t happen. Could see Lt Oberon Bay and was already dreading that climb out. Imagined the flies making it worse, too. I tripped a few times in those rocks and that really hurt. The crows were flying across kind of laughing at me.
At Lt Oberon Bay I thought I’d just go crazy, the flies were like in a horror movie. Sand got into my shoes, didn’t care, just stepped as fast as I could. When I got to the climb out, a couple was about to set their picnic basket and rug onto the rock, they were having a great time. They looked at me like I was some alien, didn’t even say hello. Once I was on the bridge, I took a deep breath and kept thinking of that beer… it should be cold enough. Imagined how I’d open it and pour it into the tall glass I brought with me… another 3.7 km to Tidal River (which felt like eternity).

Did the few climbs, grinding my teeth, then passed the track to Norman Point (300 m), then called Otto, told him I was nearly back at Tidal River. Looked over Norman Beach – people were walking leisurely, probably with full tummies. I honestly don’t know how I did that 1.3 km from the beach to the car, all I remember is that I could smell steak, juicy steak and I wished I could have a bite; then I had to let two cars pass at the pedestrian crossing – they didn’t think it would be nice to let that crazy woman pass.

First things first: opened the boot, then the car. Got the house key out (there is a bottle opener on it), got the tall glass out of the kitchen towel (it was nice and cool from the ice pack), then opened the beer and poured it into the glass just like I imagined all the way from the Lighthouse. Had a big sip, then two smaller ones. Then put my gear down, took the shoes off, grabbed my stuff and went to have a shower. Forgot to stop the watch – only realised in the shower.

Then hobbled back to the car, tried to reach Lucinda and Steven, but facebook was overloaded, couldn’t post anything and couldn’t message. I drove around a bit, looking for their caravan; couldn’t see it and I was afraid I’d run over the kids playing on the road, so I headed home.

Food and drink

  • Toasted sandwich quarters (two bites each, really) some with butter, cheese salami and sliced cornichons, others with Philadelphia mashed with cornichons and salted capers and turkey breast. Packed grape tomatoes with them. I think I had 8 of these mini sandwiches (and tomatoes), but only had 3-4
  • VFuel gel – had one salted caramel apple
  • Clif Blok Shots – packed about 12 pieces, but only had about 6
  • Chocolate and ginger
  • 500 ml Sour Cherry Juice
  • 150 ml Fly Healthy (??) Vitamin Juice
  • Water – not sure how much I had all up, was sweating a lot. Carried the bladder and the tube in the pack to fill it up at the Lighthouse and thought refilling the soft flasks will get me there. Not on a hot day!!!

Gear

  • Didn’t take all the mandatory gear with me this time – had the Bonatti, a head torch, the PLB, snake bandage, other first aid stuff (first time I had the Panadol). Used the Bonatti at the Lighthouse – it’s always windy and cold
  • Usual Lululemon gear
  • Salomon Sense Pro 2 – the Sense Pro Max would’ve been a wiser choice here. I’ve noticed at Alpine Challenge that I wasn’t tripping that much in them
  • Salomon agile 250 belt – perfect for carrying gels, blok shots and the like
  • Triangle bandage – seems like that is an essential item in the summer, too