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A Late Night Out: by Bill McLeod

13/09/2020 7:15 PM | Bob McMillan (Administrator)

           I totally misjudged the time it would take to make it onto the top of the range. It had been raining all morning but it cleared about midday. I decided to drop over the big leading ridge our bivvy was on then climb the next big leader up to the top of the range. The bush went up to the top on this ridge so it should be feasible. Not like the section of range overlooking our ridge which was all bluffs and cliffs.

            The only way down was a very tricky pathway marked by Venetian blind strips. I made it through the deep gully south of camp and climbed onto the leader. This took a lot longer than I thought it would and I made a classic mistake. Your turnaround time in your hunt should leave you enough time to get back to camp before dark. Looking at the gully I’d just clawed my way through I decided that it would be better to climb to the top of the range, make it along to our path through the bluffs and back to camp. The ridge seemed to go on forever but I finally made it to the top and really put the pace on. With some relief I found one of our track markers but by this time it was dark. Too dark to see track markers, just shapes of trees and bushes. Feeling my way along gingerly I found what I thought was our path and started to descend. My pace was desperately slow now. Still feeling my way I fell down a small waterfall. Clearly I was off the right track but I continued feeling my way down. Then I stepped into nothing. Crashed into a pool at the foot of a waterfall. Crawled to my knees still in the water. Felt my face and confirmed I had lost my glasses. Still on my hands and knees I felt around the bottom of the pool and couldn’t believe my luck when I found them. Put them back on and got out of the pool.

            Clearly it was dangerous to continue so I felt my way out onto the bank. Just a glimmer of moonlight broke through at this point so I saw a lot of bracken fern. Finding a flat piece of ground, I cut as much bracken as I could and made a mattress. I had a survival sheet with me so I wrapped up in that and pulled as much bracken as I could over me. The patch of moonlight was short lived and it got very dark.  I think there were some snow flurries sweeping through. I had my swannie but only a pair of shorts on. It was so cold. The night seemed endless. Eventually there was a lightening of the sky in the east and thank goodness it was fine. As soon as I could see I started out for camp.

            I soon saw that I had made a mistake by dropping off the correct path and going into a gully north of where I should have been. I made my way down the ridge and back to camp. A cup of tea and a feed and a thaw out was very welcome. The night out didn’t put me off at all. If anything it gave me confidence that I could make a blue, think it out and come up with a good plan. But,  I will go out of my way to avoid going down bluffs at night.

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