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Snowy Mountains National Park (New Guinea Track) – Buchan – McKillops Bridge

Today has to be the shortest distance ridden, but one of the most intense and tiring.
I was awake at dawn, with the noise of the animals at around 5:30am.
Packed up camp, and began the ride out of the valley.
The track was actually much steeper than it looked coming down, and the fact that I couldn’t slow down on the descent yesterday, should have been a warning.
I rode out about 3km, before I hit the steepest sections, and the bike completely lost traction. Sliding backwards down the track sideways was not a good feeling, and I was saved from falling into the valley by some branches that had been placed very fortuitously. In the backwards slide I couldn’t keep the bike upright and I was now located in the brush in the middle of a very steep hill. After struggling for a while and moving some of the branches that were preventing me getting completely upright, I managed to pick the bike up, but in the process of turning it back downhill, the soft earth beneath, meant that the rear wheel was now bogged and the bike sitting on the bash plate.
I spent the next hour, digging it out, filling the hole with rocks and lowering the tyre pressure. Finally getting the bike out and riding back down to the flat area and turning around for the next attempt.
This time I gave it more gas, but was still thrown off at the same point, losing traction and sliding backwards, dropping the bike on my right foot. (and now sporting a bruise on two toes to show for it)
With the bike now completely on its ear, wheels on the highside in the air, it was near impossible to lift. I dragged it around as far as I could, to try to make the lift easier, but could raise it more than 45′ on the slippery slope. There was no traction for feet, let alone bike, so when the bike was on it’s wheels it would just slide down the hill, pushing me with it.
I struggled like this for almost 4 hours, before determining it was not doable, and sending an SMS for assistance.
The Police, Ray from Buchan station, was able to reach me at around 12pm in his 4WD, and quickly assessed that it didn’t look like it was rideable to get out, and we would probably need to tow it out. I said I would give it one more try to ride out, if he could help me get it upright.
So with the 2 of us heaving on it, we managed to get the bike facing back downhill and I rode it down to the next flatter area and turned around for the 4th attempt. After dropping the tyre pressure even further, I got a good run up and powered through the steep rocky section and up the rest of the slope. (300m)
Ray took my gear in the panniers in the Patrol.
At the top we did the formalities, licence, etc and rode back into Buchan on flat tyres.
I was wrecked, and rested with a hamburger, more water, etc. Refueled the bike and bought supplies and some beer for Ray. (Ray you are a legend!)

Then after pumping up the front tyre at the servo, the rear by hand & CO2, as the pump at the servo didn’t fit, I headed back down the road to McKillops Bridge and setup camp here, right by the Snowy River.
Went in for a wash, which was absolutely brilliant, so refreshing and cool.

Cooked dinner with my neighbours, who also gave me wine, and am now in bed, with a savage wind blowing the cheapo tent about.
Dead tired.

2 comments

2 Responses to “Snowy Mountains National Park (New Guinea Track) – Buchan – McKillops Bridge”

  1. barbwire says:

    This all sounds terrible – I don’t know how you keep your
    spirits up! I hope the rest of the journey is less “eventful” and
    you get back in one piece.

  2. LD says:

    Hi Kris,
    Thanks, actually it wasn’t all that terrible. I guess I see it as part of the experience. So despite the difficulties it was extremely satisifying to overcome them. You also have to appreciate the good people with free beer/wine after a day like that :-D

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