Thursday, March 25, 2010

rambling, rocks and rodents

In the 1980's I was quite active in a bushwalking club.

We walked mostly within NSW but occasionally ventured further afield.

Below are a few more slide scans from a 6 day walk through the Snowy Mountains between Boxing Day and New Years Eve 1985. Most of this walk was off-track, using topographic maps of the area and compass navigation.

One of the things that was memorable about this particular walk was my encounter with bush rats.

It was our first nights camp and the weather had closed in so that it looked as if rain or even snow, was inevitable. As we were close to the popular public areas of the National Park, there was a conveniently located hut nearby which offered shelter from the elements.

It comprised of basically an open plan shed containing a number of bunk beds without mattresses, and a simple fuel stove. There were two small hiking groups sharing the facilities that night so beds were in short supply. I was there with my mate Paul and we generously offered to put our sleeping bags on the floor and sleep there. After all, this really was no different to being in a tent.

After lights out it wasn't long before we could all hear the scrabbling and scratching of rats in the hut. They had found the rubbish and were busily tearing into the old foil packs and other scraps. One of them must have found a piece of rubbish that had formed a natural megaphone because the noise it started making was extremely LOUD!

But most people, comfortably off the floor, appeared to ignore the noise and according to the snores,proceeded to fall asleep. I, on the other hand, lay there eyes wide open playing scenes from Willard over in my head.

After half an hour or so (which in the dark with rats seemed like 3 or 4 hours) I started to feel sleepy and was ready to drift off.

Suddenly I felt a heavy object scurry across my sleeping bag at knee level.

I sat bolt upright and grabbed my torch. It's beam searched the floor until in the distance I could see several bush rats staring at my torchlight, their eyes glittering like luminescent pearly discs.

Now fear and loathing notwithstanding, these bush rats were huge. Not big. Huge. I tried to Google a bush rat picture to show you - but they all looked cute and cuddly and nothing like the actual demonic beasts of my memory.

I slunk lower into my sleeping back and pulled the cord around its hood tight so that the barest minimum of face was exposed - just enough to facilitate breathing. And so i tried yet again to fall asleep with the scrabbling and squeaking going on all around me.

Finally sleep began to overtake me when all of a sudden I felt scratching on the back of my sleeping bag hood against my scalp.

That's why the next morning, the rest of the hikers found me fast asleep on the dining table.

the rat hut


landscape + camouflage





small lake

small lake2

small lake3


low cloud

evening camp

icy swim



Jim Nariel said...

Looks like I've found another great blog. Although not sure about the rats. The photos are great especially the lake

Ginny said...

My god they would have found me clinging to the roof, the table seems a very modest distance from the beasts.