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Barkley's ACT 2013 Rogaining Champ Adventures (with Don & Chalky)

Naas, Clear and Grassy: ACT Championships and 30th birthday, 21st Sep 2013
Don McLean, posted on 22nd Oct 2013

Barkley is ACTRA's koala mascot - check out the story of his recent ACT Champs experience with Michael Challen and Don McLean (team 7)

Naas Valley beckoned on 21-22 Sep, a favourite area of mine with lots of delicious gum trees. After helping with the 30th birthday cake decorating, and posing for a few photos, it was time to find a team to partner up with. The open koala category is always low on numbers so this time I decided to team up with Don & Chalky as I heard that they had a good chance of placing well (given that they were the only team entered in the men's vets category). I thought that they might also need some of my advice on the course as well because Don seemed to be a little out of his depth during the prep time - giving me a great photo opportunity when I posed with him and his laminated map with the control descriptions over the top of the map instead of behind, a real newbie mistake.

At 12 sharp, after getting a quick refresher on how to deal with snake bites, we were off. Chalky had planned a route for us that aimed to clear the westerly map and we had plenty of company on our way to our first control, number 50. We got into a routine fairly quickly after I requested a photo of myself at the first control (bit hard for a selfie with my short arms) and then decided that I had better get one at each control because the nice admin staff had forgotten to give me my NavLight wrist band.

The weather was great and we were having a rewarding time finding each of the controls that we navigated to, just where the course setters had indicated on the map they should be. Things got a little dicey about 3 hrs in though when Chalky started to pull up lame (with a torn calf muscle as it turned out). Don thought he was going to be able to get back to their tent for a nice cozy sleep after raiding the night kitchen but Chalky had other plans and wasn't going to let me miss out on my photo opportunities.

We pushed on through the night developing a new routine where Chalky would limp through the bush frequently explaining to no one in particular, in rather colourful language, his level of pain. This proved quite helpful for Don locating Chalky in the bush as he waited up ahead for Chalky and I to catch up. I'd been munching on a few gum leaves though and you know how us koala's are, we're happy to take it slow and easy.

In the end we didn't clear all of the westerly map but we gave it a good run. I only had to help the boys reset once when they couldn't find control 78 navigating from control 86. I kept the boys calm when they couldn't originally find the control and got them back onto the track to the south-west before following the tracks to the indistinct track to the north to use as a different attach point - with success this time. Time for a celebration after that as it was over 2 hrs since we'd scored control 78.

We were in for a frosty time as we headed back into the valley in the wee hours of Sunday to clear controls 47, 48 and 33 with the boys having to put on some extra layers; I still had my winter fur coat to keep me toastie though.

We were in for a treat as we hiked back along vehicle track in the valley alongside Naas Creek on a nice sunny Sunday morning when some of the admin team pulled up in their subi (the vehicle of choice for any self-respecting rogainer) and offered us some encouragement and chocolate birthday cake; not to my liking of course, being much more partial to gum leave, but the boys certainly got a boost from it as they strolled along the track in lovely morning sunshine heading back towards the easterly map again.

Using the bridge between 56 & 32, the ford at 33 and then a random tree stump across the river between 79 & 66 we, well the boys, managed to keep their feet pretty dry throughout the event until their final crossing near 41 on their way back to the HH. There they had no option but to jump in and wade across the creek. By then the end was in sight though and Don was able to coax Chalky on enough to push on through the pain and get back to the HH with just minutes to spare before the clock ticked over 24 hrs.

A great 24 hr hour event for me in some spectacular country side, and another win in my open koala category, although as usual I'm still waiting for my trophy. Looking forward to my next rogaine adventures when I'll try a find another team to help around the course.

Yours in gum leaf happiness,

Barkley.


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