Excitement always builds as we arrive in Port Moresby for our trek across the Kokoda Track. Trekkers are often nervous as well as excited as they are finally on their way on their trip of a lifetime.
Our group for this trek included 6 mates who have been friends since college. These guys, Pricey, Bluey, Dugga, Farmer, Archi and Luke had a friendship that was to be admired and their ability to laugh at themselves and each other made for an enjoyable time. We also had Mana who was from Japan and Martin who was from Germany, so all up it was a great group of trekkers.
The trip from Popendetta to Kokoda was as bumpy and dusty as it always is and we were very pleased to get off the PMV at Kokoda. The weather was looking a bit threatening while we were visiting the Kokoda Plateau, but it managed to head in the other direction, which was great. After exploring the Plateau we had lunch and then met our Porter team. These boys were going to be looking after us for the next 9 days.
Heading off from Kokoda to start our trek is an exciting time. A quick stop at the Arches for a photo and we are on our way. There is always lots of chatter amongst the trekkers during this first section of the track, as it is reasonably wide and flat. The first few creek crossings we have between Kokoda and the village of Hoi were quite high. I hadn’t seen them this high before and wondering what the track had in store for us. The very first hill we climb starts just after the village of Hoi, this is always a good test to see how the trekkers will cope with the demands of the Kokoda Track. Deniki was a welcome relief for all of the trekkers and they spent a bit of recovery time enjoying the view back down towards Kokoda.
In true Kokoda style, we had a muddy track all the way to Kagi, which meant there was a lot of slipping and sliding happening. The rain came down for the usual nightly downpour, which of course created more mud and slush for the next day.
The boys had brought along a Captain’s Hat with the idea that whoever did something silly or fell over during the day, earned themselves the hat for the following day. It wasn’t long before Venson, one of our Porters took a spectacular dive, complete with an axe flying up in the air. The whole Porter team enjoyed watching Venson being awarded with the Captain’s Hat for the day.
Arriving in the village of Kagi is always a highlight and we were greeted with the beautiful voices of the ladies and children of the village. Everyone was looking forward to getting to Kagi to enjoy a rest day for the Sabbath. The experience of attending the church service in the village is a definite highlight and the locals were more than happy to provide the trekkers with the song books so we could sing along with the congregation. We were also greeted with the news that Walter, our Local Guide’s wife had recently given birth to a baby girl.
The mud and slush took a brief rest around Kagi, but returned in fine form for the rest of the trek. After a swim in the Vabuiagi River we headed up the hill to the village of Menari. The heavens decided to open up as we left the river and we walked the 40 minutes up to Menari in the pouring rain. This group of trekkers were definitely getting a full kokoda experience. The Swamp lived up to it’s name and a walk through knee high water at the Brown River got us ready for a few false peaks up to Nauro.
Although everyone was tired, there was still plenty of banter flying around and the nightly card game of “bullshit”, was always one that brought many laughs to those who played.
To finally reach the Arches at Ower’s Corner is a proud moment. A moment where trekkers can be proud of their own personal achievement, but also their achievement as a group.
It was my absolute privilege to guide this group of trekkers across the track. They are an amazing group of people who all displayed those important qualities of endurance, sacrifice, mateship and courage.