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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 14 & 15, 2012 Hiking Whitsunday Peak and Picking up a Package

Monday morning we packed up the scrawny bits of snack food and fruit we have left in our stores, filled water bottles, grabbed the cameras and set off for the hike up to Whitsunday Peak. The trail was rigorous and at times so steep I would lose my balance.  Frank fashioned me a walking stick from a fallen branch, which helped tremendously. He had his that he has used for years. The flora was amazing to me, in fact so amazing that I snapped one photo after another. Frank jokingly told me I was likely to run out of film before we summited.
Not likely with a digital but I may run out of battery. There was an interesting variety of plant life and trees along the hike, although not much in the way of wildlife. The terrain changed rapidly from streamside to dense forest to rocky boulders lining our path. 
There was an abundance of vines and intricate root systems that led me to thinking of Tarzan. In fact, impishly I told Frank if I had a way to do it without defacing the forest, I'd carve, "Tarzan wuz here!" It was a thrilling walk in more ways than one, and at one point just before I stepped down onto a decaying leaf covered rock, a small brown snake slithered by just under my foot. Since a childhood incident at Camp Fire Girl camp involving a Copperhead, I have been mortally terrified of snakes. Somehow I managed to casually mention to Frank that a baby snake had just shot across the path under my foot. He asked me what color? I told him. He said, "Hmmm", and that was the end of it. Somehow I had no fear, but I did get a little more cautious with my footing after that and decided that pounding the ground ahead of me with my stick might be a good idea. Frank just looked back at me, gave me one of those Frank looks, and shrugged.
We hit so many switchbacks that I thought we would never reach the top. The forest became so dense we kept getting false impressions that we were nearly "there" whenever we would see a clear patch of sky overhead. I was becoming fatigued, as the last ¾ of the hike was nearly straight up big steps of rock. Frank seemed unperturbed as he forged ahead never wavering. Arriving at the summit was so well worth the effort. We could see a near 360° panorama of the islands.

The view was probably the prettiest we have ever seen from an island peak. Destiny was a mere dot but we could make her out far below floating in the turquoise waters. We took pictures and then settled down on a rocky area for a snack of tangerines and cashews. I was happy with my new walking stick on the steep descents. We enjoyed the return just as much as the trip up. Returning to the beach we realized our poor old bodies are likely to be sore tomorrow.
May 15th we considered returning for another hike to the top – not! Actually, although we are enjoying the beauty of these islands, we are itching to start moving more northward. We still have a mighty long way to go before the end of June and there is so much yet to see on this coast. After breakfast, we weighed anchor and drove around trying to catch a phone and broadband (internet) signal. I told Frank I felt in my bones that our package would arrive today. By now two of the yachts we have been in touch with while moving up the coast have gotten several hundred miles ahead of us. We are enjoying our Whitsunday visit with one eye on the calendar.

We drove around and around, Frank at the helm and me sitting below, my eyes glued to the laptop willing a signal to appear. Neither of our phones picked up anything and before we knew it we were nearly to Hamilton Island so we shot over to the mooring field between Hamo and Dent Islands. I picked up a phone signal and phoned my Mom to wish her an official Happy Mother's Day. Fortunately I caught her in bed but before she had nodded off to sleep. She cried, and told me how much she appreciated our efforts. Made me cry as well. 
We secured to a mooring, Frank gave a shout to the Marina on VHF and received confirmation that our part has arrived – halleluiah! It was only a week late. Chris from the marina office even personally delivered it to us in the marina's runabout. As soon as we had it in our hands we detached the mooring, raised the headsail and shot right out of there in a 28 knot gust on a close reach. What a great day for a sail to Airlie Beach. Frank phoned Barton's mobile to let him know (via voicemail) we were on our way and looked forward to seeing him, Juri and Denise again.

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