This is where it gets interesting… (settle in, I’ve got a story to tell :))
Waaaaaaay back in April 2010, we decided to go for a long-weekend hike – it was Easter. The plan was to walk about 60km over three days, through the bush along a section of the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia. This was exciting. This was us getting out of town and into nature and using nothing more than a camp stove to eat (which, for those who know our old house in Fremantle, wasn’t much different!). Most of all, we were forgetting about work and study and instead taking deep, invigorating breaths of eucalyptus.
Dave had previously hiked the entire “Bib” track from end-to-end back when he was a hippie — it’s a total of 1000km and took him 52 days. So really, this was just going to be a little jaunt à la Crocodile Dundee.
The first day was mostly uneventful, other than when we took a short break on the trail and I sat down on the head of a bull ant. Wow…. Ow!
Bull ants are huge, and have these fangs on their face that are not to be scoffed at. My right butt cheek took one for the team, and MAN do they sting. Luckily my Aussie boyfriend (who’s grandma was a keen naturalist and bushwalker) knew of a natural remedy available just down the path. We crushed up some Bracken Fern and applied it to the welt on my derrière. It did, in fact, feel better. And with that break time was over.
Other pains punctuated Day 1 as we broke in our hiking boots and accustomed our shoulders to the weight of our packs. No surprise that sleep came easy the first night on the hard elevated platform of the 3-walled hut.
The following day we would reach the Blackwood River hut up on a steep bluff overlooking a valley. I had been told this was a beautiful spot and one of the nicer huts on the track. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — what would a hike in the Aussie bush be without a celebrity encounter? That’s right, sometime mid-afternoon we ran into one of Australia’s deadly snakes. Well maybe ‘ran into’ isn’t quite accurate. The snake came slithering rapidly at a right angle to us and stopped abruptly right behind Dave and in front of me at the edge of the path. And stayed there.
Uh, now what?
Dave proceeded to pick up a large branch and thwack the ground with it near the snake. Nothing. No backing down. Doesn’t. Even. Flinch. (shit!!)
After what feels like 5 minutes, and a few thwacks later, the snake decides (of its own accord) to head back the way it came. Hah. Funny. I love the bush.
We come up to the hut just in time for sunset and cook our couscous on the little stove. We take turns because it only fits one pot, so Dave eats then goes to set up the sleeping mats. I eat my dinner looking out at the view across the valley; it is gorgeous. When I turn around, a blanket has been set up on the platform for us to play cards. There’s a bottle of port and two glasses and several tealights lit. Awww nice!
That’s when I remember the Easter eggs in my bag. I tell him to shut his eyes as I hide them all over the hut. He then spends the next half hour trying to find them, much to my amusement. Eventually we settle in for some cards and port. But first, he’s got something he wants to read to me: a poem that he has written. It’s beautiful and makes me cry. Then he has a gift for me wrapped in coloured silk. It’s small and round, and wooden* (more crying). At some point a question is asked and I give some semblance of a positive answer. We’re engaged!!!!
On Easter morning we hiked out without incident and found a phone to call my mom in Canada; we decided not to break it to the Locke’s until over dinner the following night. The adventure continues :)…
*A note about the ring: Dave carved the engagement ring by hand from jarrah, an Australian hardwood with a dark reddish colour. His inspiration came from my father who carved a similar ring from cherry wood to propose to my mother. The ring is quite fragile and so currently worn on a chain.