Type 1 life adventures
Five days of hiking and we’d not encountered a single person. The wilderness spell enhancing the taste of the powdered-milk tea was good to last one final cup as we soaked up the serenity at Lily Pad. We’d reached our destination of 3rd Gorge, which was also the furthest point for day-tripper boats giving tourists a peek at the spectacular Nitmiluk (Katherine) gorge system. Now these folks were coming. I wasn’t ready.
“How’d you get here?” was the standard greeting as they ambled single file to emerge into the ampitheatre of the postcard perfect waterfall where they discovered (possibly first by smell) Matt and I. Our adventurism and self-sufficiency was met with varying degrees of bemusement, curiosity, impressed awe and the laconic “oh yeah, right”.
I could not bring myself to share the water with these new arrivals. I’d been immersed in breathtaking water holes, river spots and waterfalls all by myself as the indulged sole customer of Gecko Canoeing & Trekking on their Nitmiluk Dreaming cultural trip. My guide Matt fished but swimming was not his thing. Now the stillness and spirituality was disturbed. I opted to wait for the 11 o’clock visitors to bugger off and then take my final swim before the 1pm crowd came. We’d be leaving with them.
I sat and watched my fellow humans as I tried to get used to the idea that I was going to have to play nicely in the loud and busy world again. I studied how they variously related to this place. Kids and grown-ups dropping bombs, people ignoring warnings to not take their pics under the slippery waterfall, others floating about gently taking it all in. Then there were those who did not enter the water, content just to get a sense of the place or to tick it off their ‘done it’ list. Some sat there just looking, watching others be in it. A couple went back to the boat early because they were bored and had seen enough.
So many people were merely observing (…was my observation…). In a smug I’ve just hiked my arse off way, it struck me that for five days I had been truly experiencing. I wanted that to continue and for that spirit to return home with me. At first I’d gone easy taking photos as Matt had tracked our way seeking buffalo paths along the traditional hunting trail used by the Jawoyn people. I’d wanted to experience rather than record events. But it was not until this final moment that I realised how much I wanted to become a more active and adventurous participant in life.
I’d spent so much time in past years observing my health and trying to work out what the go was. The eventual diagnosis of Type 1 delivered a relentless regime of observation. I think I’d allowed myself to be subsumed by it. Fair enough, I’d needed some time to get the swing of it. This hiking experience showed me though that it had brought adjustments, not limitations.
I thought I was not really the tour taking type. However, in order to check out a truly remote place and test myself physically for the first time on insulin I had to concede that a tour was necessary. My tour skepticism was given a lesson. I was also put completely at ease by Matt and business owner Mick, so that when it came to managing in the remote wilderness it was really just a matter of standard logistics like ditching insulin for breakfast and lunch and tweaking the basal to account for the physical activity and heat. A bit of pre-trip food organisation, sussing out the Frio bags and regular strip testing did the job. I got a little overheated at one point, but not a hypo to report (BGs generally 5-7 range).
What I can report is bravely swimming with fresh water crocodiles and being captivated by the stone country where giants seem to play marbles and faces appeared to me in rock formations just like pictures in the clouds. Rich conversations, stories and exquisite silences. Feeling like I was moon walking with rocks underneath spongy grass that made me bounce. A new appreciation for the world of the bird nerd. Scrambling into caves and around boulders to see and hear about the rock art. Constantly shifting landscapes that kept me entranced. A sense of the longevity and spirituality of this place. Inspiration and invigoration. And a taste for the intrepid.