The old guy is driving an early 2000s 4WD Landcruiser. There are extra water jerry cans, recovery boards and a shovel on the roof rack. He stops beside me at the intersection of a logging road and the Princes Highway. I’m refolding my map after a long morning riding up and down the gravel roads in the hills. It’s been a morning of burnt and logged trees as far as the eye can see.
The man asks me which tracks I’ve been on, their condition, and if the tracks seem like they’d get impassable after rain. I tell him what I know. He’s off to bushwalk up two of the peaks over the coming days, but he doesn’t want to get stuck if the coming rains are heavy.
I wish him luck on climbing those peaks, as I don’t think he’ll have any track to follow, even if there once was one. The fire regrowth is so thick that I’ve been stymied from riding some of the tracks I’d hoped. Some roads are still closed, and other roads that are open are so thick with vegetation that they are impassable.
Poor Verne, Kermit and I have been whacked by young vegetation on the road edge for kms upon kms the past six days. So I can’t imagine any bushwalk is going to be anything but a cross-country bushwhack and navigational nightmare.
He’s not too fussed – it’s really just about getting out and going somewhere new. When he asks where I’ve been before the last few tracks, I name off a few roads and locales.
He replies, “Well, THAT is a very big undertaking. Good on you. You must be a very hardy soul, with a durable bum and a reliable bike.”
I laugh and say, “Well, I guess you could say that.”
And then we both head on our respective ways, trying to get somewhere else before the rain comes.
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