Finish: Lindenow Cutoff Bus Stop
Today went just as planned; except not exactly. I’ll explain.
I woke up about 6:00 and as I always do first thing, I got on my phone and checked the weather. It said 10% chance of rain and cloudy all day. Perfect! I laid around a little longer because I needed to step off walking after eating some breakfast at 8:00. Based on my normal walking pace, that would get me to the Landenow Cutoff bus stop, which was 20 miles away, 30 minutes before the bus was scheduled to be there at 3:30. Then I’d catch the bus back to Stratford to spend another night at the Avon River Inn where I stayed last night. So about 6:45 I decided to crawl out of bed. I went over and peeked out the window. I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was so foggy I couldn’t see past the end of my nose. And the drizzle was heavy too. I knew right then it was going to be one of those days.
Luckily today was a slack packing day since I was coming back for another night in Stratford so my pack was super light. I went across the road to the local bakery for breakfast and as planned, walked out of town at 8:00. With the drizzle and fog the roads were very wet so I had my poncho on to stay dry. The road spray wasn’t too bad from cars but the truck traffic was pretty heavy and I’d occasionally get the cattle truck 18-wheeler come by. You haven’t lived until you’ve been soaked with road spray from an 18-wheeler cattle truck.
By late morning the drizzle and fog had lifted and the cloudy day forecast turned out to be accurate. I was making good time and stopped at a roadside park to eat the sandwich I brought with me from the bakery. As I left the park I calculated my ETA to my destination bus stop and I’d knocked 30 minutes off my walking time. Add that to the 30 minutes I already planned to be early meant I was arriving an hour before the scheduled bus time. And who knows if the bus would be on time. So I was looking at standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere for at least an hour waiting on the bus. So when I got to the bus stop I decided to implement Plan B. This is the plan my wife, Wyn, doesn’t like me to use. Plan B consists of hitching a ride with the first trustworthy looking person who offers me a ride. So that’s what I did.
Louise Spensley is a true trail angel. She saw me standing by the road, leaning on my walking staff, and offered me a ride into Stratford. And it’s because she’s been in my position herself. Originally from the U.K., she’s backpacked around Europe, including Spain’s famous El Camino de Santiago. She pulled over and we had the most amazing 30 minute conversation about hiking, work, and life. She works for a nonprofit here in Victoria called EcoLands Collective who are committed to private land conservation. She was wonderful to talk to and was a bright spot to the end of my long walking day.
Tomorrow I’ll finish my 12 miles from the Lindenow Cutoff bus stop into Bairnsdale. The plan was to catch the bus from the Stratford Train/Bus Depot out to that bus stop at 12:30 tomorrow afternoon. However, the wonderful owner of The Avon River Inn where I’m staying, Danielle, insisted on finding me a better way to get there. She put an All Points Bulletin out on her Facebook account asking if anyone was going that way tomorrow morning. An hour later I was informed her friend Jess would be giving me a ride at 7:50 AM. Jess drives to work in Bairnsdale where she is a nurse. It will only cost me one Cappuccino which I will pick up at the bakery before she arrives in the morning.
Life’s been pretty good in Australia so far. There are so many nice people in this world. Turn off your cable news channel. It gives you the wrong impression. JB.