When I reached the top of one of many hills, the heat of the day was intense and weariness forced me to stop. I ate a little lunch. Sipped a little water. Thought about its reducing quantity. Lay down in the shade. And fell asleep.
Increasingly, I was acknowledging my water situation could become serious.
At the start of my walks I carry two one-litre bladders (Think 2kgs of weight). By the early afternoon I estimated this quantity might not be sufficient: I realised that the hot weather, the energy required to navigate my way around contours and up and down hills, the need to have water to cook with, clean the teeth, and continue on, were likely to deplete my supplies. If I didn’t find water to replenish my resources I could be in trouble.
As it turned out, the first creek with the brown running water was the only source of water that I might have drunk, if pushed. Later creeks trickled sluggishly and pools sat with green slime and algae. Obviously no rain had flushed these creeks in ages.
By late afternoon I decided to head inland to a man-made dam of water clearly marked on the map; I was walking away from the River but I needed water and this seemed the only sensible solution. I walked up and down more serious hills until the dam was in view (can you spot the dam in the first photo?).
After walking for around seven hours, this nameless dam was a huge disappointment. The water edges were pudgy with cattle trampings so that the mud oozed up around my walking boots and threatened to suck them off my feet. And the low level of water left in the dam was a thick brown mix. Unreachable and undrinkable.
That night, I didn’t cook because water would have been required. Instead I finished eating my lunch for dinner. Again at breakfast I ate food which did not require rehydration. At no time did I brush my teeth, although I would have loved to. Keeping water to sip was more important than niceties.
Next morning I walked for two hours to reach the Catagunya complex. No creeks ran with clean water on the way. Cliffs and rocky edges made the water of Lake Repulse inaccessible. I thought that the bridge over the Derwent River at Catagunya might allow me to drop down and brush my teeth, but again – no access. Impossible.
Thankfully when I arrived at the Catagunya Power Station, a couple of work cars pulled up. Inside I was able to refill my water containers and brush my teeth. Thanks Hydro Tasmania.
I have written before about the challenges of walking and worrying about water. The irony is that the Derwent River is a mighty liquid machine, the water of which can be seen – but mostly it cannot be touched. If a person wasn’t able to keep walking, and didn’t have a Personal Locator Beacon, it would be easy to die of thirst in this remote part of Tasmania in the summer.