Philosopher Falls 2016 ii Apr
We set out from home late, not reaching Waratah until a bit after lunchtime. We were now in a rush. In the Tourist Bureau, a man overhears that I’m on my way to the bottom of Philosopher Falls and asks if he can join in. He’s already had a failed attempt. I size up his physique for the likelihood of rapid movement. No obvious problems. Jeans. Confident enough to have at least made a failed attempt (the average tourist stays on the track).
“Yeah. Sure, as long as you can keep pace.” (I have driven several hours to be here. I don’t want my attempt scuppered if he can’t keep up with us. He is a total stranger, after all).
“Are you certain?”
“Yeah, that’ll be fine as long as you can keep pace,” I repeat.
He joins us in the carpark at the falls. He’s changed, out of jeans and into boots (good) … and pants that you’d wear out to dinner. Hm.
Off we set, me in the lead, hubby and Man following obediently, down the track to the point where we depart and go bush, from whence I head off on contour along the gps’d track I made last time. Man follows Gretel and Hansel through the forest, repeating oft that he could never do this by himself, and neither could he find his own way back. I stop after 7 minutes to check on how closely the tapes that have now appeared are sticking to the route I marked in last time. He is panting heavily. From exertion or fear? I decide both. Should I take him back and lose time that I don’t have? Not time to give up yet. He makes strongly panicky noises to my husband while I sort things out on the next short stop. Bruce is unsure what to say. What if he encourages him only to find out I’ve decided to take him back? Or if he agrees with the man (that we should turn around) when I’ve decided I can get him there despite the panic? Bruce makes equivocating mumbles. (He’s expert at that).
For the present I continue, believing I still have enough light to get them down. Coming back up will be tricky, but I think things are still OK (apart from the obvious angst) for now. Terror noises grow in volume and frequency. After 20 mins I head back in the direction from whence we came, ending back on the precious path. Man is overjoyed to see it. He totally ignores the fact that we have failed to reach our destination and celebrates his safety. No one gets to see Philosopher Falls (bottom) that day.
I photograph some pretty cascades elsewhere on the Arthur River, still accompanied by Happy Man, who is effervescent now we are near a navigational handrail he can relate to (flowing water). We then part, he returning to Waratah, while we continue on to Corinna. He tells us the road is shocking and will take us two and a half hours. We take this with a grain of salt, and do it in one. We have no booking and are very hungry on arrival. Luckily, this story has a happy ending today (unmitigated pathos is hard to endure). There is room for us at the inn, and we even get to eat a hot dinner.