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Old 22-10-2004, 10:41 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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The journey of a life time

The journey of a life time

My storyÖÖ.. By Jessie Garap

It never occurred to me that one day I would really walk the infamous Kokoda Trail. I mean, i never even dreamed of it. For me, this was something new, something i would tressure, an experience of a life time.

My track adventure began on the 27th of June 2004. Our group Trek 22, was set to leave Port Moresby for Kokoda, in the early hours of Sunday morning. During that morning time, it was raining heavily, and i mean big heavy rain drops and the whole Port Moresby city was covered with dark clouds. And it was unusual too, coz mostly at this time of the year, we don't get such heavy rain, so definitely it was an unexpected visit I should say, well nature has it's own way of turning up when you least expect it too, so can't say nothing about it.

My younger sister Ilyana and i were delayed twice for our flight to Kokoda, while the rest of the group traveled ahead of us, (what a pity). But eventually we left Port Moresby, which was gooood. Because, I was really looking forward to going since the day I got the news that I was going to walk the Kokoda trail.

It was around 1:45pm that afternoon we took off and the dark clouds above us were just clearing off letting our plane move slowly through, it was pretty much a smooth ride, except for my ears hurt so bad. Less than 25 minutes, and our plane landed at Kokoda air strip. Earlier that morning we were briefed by our trek guide Eric Uwea, who left with the rest of the group on the first flight. He told us that as soon as the plane touches the ground, we would meet up with our personal porters, Glen Henson and Rod Ori.

And that was exactly what happened, as soon as we got out of the plane, they were there and we introduced ourselves and sorted out our stuff and started walking from there. Not only did we meet with our porters, but a couple of boys from the station as well. They were all very nice; the boys sang, cracked jokes and laughed along the way, it was nice being around them.

Ilyana and I at the Jackson's Airport, Port Moresby
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Last edited by Jessie; 26-07-2005 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 10:51 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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At first we came to Kokoda station, a quiet little place, and only a hand full of people I could see hanging around and watching us as we passed by them. There was a museum that stood some feet away from the police station, and also some houses with very clean and neatly trimmed grasses all around the yard. But one thing that really got to my attention or got my attention was their hospital. It was all cleaned up both inside and outside as well, which was hard to believe, coz I've never come across such clinics or hospitals, in Port Moresby itself.

After a fair bit of look around, the next thing we did was to head to our first camp site. Along the way we came passed Kovelo and Mudulu. Both villages were in total silence, not only were they in silence, but there was no one around, probably that was why. The only thing I heard were the enchanting sounds of the insects in the bushes and the whistling of the birds flying above our heads.
The track from Kokoda station to Hoi village, our first camp site, was not too bad. A little bit of ups and downs, but mostly it was a smooth straight walk. We passed a couple of creeks on the way; actually that was the same creek we were going across the whole time. It was actually going around in circles, and in all different directions, but ended up in the same track. So we were going over the same creek a number of times.

It took us two and a half hours to get to Hoi village, it would have been less then that, but we were walking slowly, and looking around so that really did take some time.
When we arrived at Hoi, and as we were about to enter our camping area, a voice called out from somewhere behind in the Oro language, and welcomed us. Indeed it felt really good to be welcomed in such manner.

All the other trekkers were there, watching as we entered the camping area, looking a bit tired i guess!! Tom Polley (father), walked over to me and asked what took Ilyana and I so long to get there? And I told him that we were delayed twice. And that was very sweet of him, at least someone though about us.

The group at Hoi, wind house
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Last edited by Jessie; 28-07-2005 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 10:57 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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Even though everyone was tired after the walk from Kokoda to Hoi, there was still enough strenght to go play a game of volleyball. The volleyball court was at one end of the village and we were on the other side. We where sort of divided by this little creek that ran between us, but that didn't stop anyone from going across.
The kids from Hoi village were fantastic, they played spectacularly, I didn't think they would play that well, but they certainly did, and they definitely proved me wrong.

It was a good game, only time caught up with us and we had to return to our camp site to wash and prepare ourselves for the evening meal. Dinner was delicious; everyone enjoyed it, especially the richly creamed coconut banana. For most trekkers, they didn't know whether the banana was a banana or a sweet potatoe. Since Ilyana and I were the only nationals trekkers, i mean apart from the proters. They asked us about the food and how it was cooked, and we told them what it was and explained how it was cooked. They all found it very interesting.

That night, it was cool coz we had a few showers. We all set in the little house wind doing our own thing. Like some trekkers were telling stories, others were cracking jokes and laughing, while the rest of us just set next to the fire keeping ourselves warm. Not only were we warmed up by the fire but the porter had boiled hot water, for us to drink either coffee, tea or milo. Ilyana and i went for a cup of coffee and it was shared between the two of us. We didn't want to drink much, I meant think about it, who wants to go looking for the toilet in the night? Not me!!! Noway.

While Ilyana and I were talking, James McRae, the youngest member of our trek, joined us and then introduced himself to the both of us. He was pretty much fascinated by the language we were speaking, which was Pidgin. And wanted us to teach him, this was good, now somebody volunteered to learn Pidgin on the first night. So we did a little bit of teaching, and James was really good catching up.

The group crossing the creek, to go play volleyball on the other side.
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Last edited by Jessie; 19-08-2005 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 11:01 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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On Monday, around 5:30am the next morning, our guide Eric Uwea woke us all up, to have breakfast and get prepared for our second day walk. The camp site or should i say the whole place was in total darkness, i could not see a damn thing, only the fire lighting in the wind house, which was some feet away from our tent. We had to use our touches to give us enough light to look at where we going. I was amazed to see that all the food porter, including all the other porters, already awake and not only that, they already prepared breakfast.

Once breakfast was over, everyone gathered all their stuff, it was time we started to walking. I was told by my porter Rod, that the first mountain to climb was a test mountain. And i asked him why it was a test mounyain and this is what he told me.

For beginners like me and the other trekkers, this mountain is a pretty big mountain to start off with. And because it is a big mountain , it's like a test to us all, to see how fit we were. The test mountain had about 6 falls peak, and if you came to plateau at the top, it wasn't the end, you'll keep going and going until you've completed all 6 and thats when you're at the top of Isurava village.
Indeed the climb was a real challnege, we walked up all through the way. Well, we did do some stops for resting and fetching water, but mostly it was climbing. Along the way we met up with another bunch of trekkers, only they were going the opposite direction. One of the guys tapped me on the sholder and said, "com'on mate, your almost there, just take a deep breath in and slowly breathe out, you'll do just fine." And I followed his advice, and turned out to be a big help all through out my climb. Good for them they where almost to the end of their trail, lucky buggers. But not for us, it was just the beginning, we still had some more falls peak to go over, it seemed to me that the mountain was growing has we were going up, and it was like forever to a day.

At one stage i asked Rod, if we' were almost there, and he sadi we still had another 3 more falls peak to go over. It was pretty tough for me I should say, I didn't do much training to be on this trekking expedition, so yeah it was real a challenge, but I managed to hang on and believed in myself that i could do this trail.

Finally we made it to the top, normally it would take 5 hours, but it took us 4 hours to get there, and I was really proud of myself. I mean it all depends on how fast or slow you walk, but doing it in 4 hours for me, it meant alot.

At the top was Isurava village, we stopped there just to have lunch and from there we would continue on to our next destination. Lunch was ok, I didn't feel like eating much, so I had 3 small potatoes and two mandarins. The land owner brought some coke, yes COKE. Which he sold for K5. everyone bought one each and drank their's the same time. Were as for me I didn't want to drink mine, because we still had a long way to and just incase i might want to drink it later on, so i stored mine in my bag.

Our lunch at Isurava village
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Last edited by Jessie; 29-07-2005 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 11:05 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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Lunch was over and it was time we moved back to our second camp site Isurava Battlefield. It would roughly take 25 minutes to get there, but at that time we had a few showers, so the track was slippery and there were alot of tree roots protruding out of the ground, and I'm telling you the roots were much more slippery then the ground itself, and if you happen to make one silly move or step, you are in for a big twisted ankle.

Ilyana didn't fall one bit nor did I, but she did a pretty cool ground surf, and landed well on both her feet, which she could hardly believe. Apart from that, we were the first two trekkers to make to our camp site, followed by our fellow trekkers who joined up with us minutes later.

The camp site was beautiful, the whole place was green and the grasses were neatly trimmed, not too mentions with all the monuments there, it looked magnificent, just perfect. We all went to see/read the monuments and take pictures of the memorial park. I red most of the monument, well probably all i should say, but didn't have or get the chance to write in my dairy what was written on the monuments, mostly it talks about the events that took place during the war. Although, all the monuments were as touching and sad, one of all of them really struck me, it was the monument of Private Bruce Kingsbury. The momument tells about his courage, bravery and how he died at only 24 years of age, the monument also stands just a few feet away from where he was when he was shot dead, and that really means alot.

After looking around, it was time we all went to take shower and get prepared for evening meal time. Ilyana and I wanted to e the last ones to take our shower, so we waited while the rest of the trekkers took turn each, the last two were Mark and Steven Polley. Mahn!! The way those two washed under that tap water, was as if the water was warm, and I for one thought it was. But as soon as i went under the tap water, mahn!! The water was freezing cold as ice, I felt like any minute from now, all the bones in my entire body would just froze; it was like staying in the deep freezer for goodness knows how long. When i finally finished, I coldn't stop shaking, coz i was sooooo damn cold.

Our night at the Battlefield was really nice, while we were waiting for our evening meal to be prepared by our food porters in the wind-house, the Polley family decided to teach us a card game called "U-NO" a tricky, fun game. We all had turns to play, including some porters, the game was getting even more interesting, but dinner was ready and it was time the card game was over. Our meal was excellent, with a nice cup of coffee to go along with it, everything went down just right.

Although it was raining and getting cold outside, it was much warmer in the guest house, so there was nothing to worry about, but to rest well and look forward to our next day's adventure.

Isurava Battlefield
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Last edited by Jessie; 02-08-2005 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 11:22 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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Rise and shine we were up and bright the next morning. We had pan cake, peas and Ox & Plam fro breakfast...ummm yummy! And as usual a nice cup of coffee to go with, it was splendid.

Weather looked ok with no rain, although, the clouds above our heads were dominated with dark clouds which did not look pleasing. After breakfast, we headed out for our third day walk, along the way the porters sang so many songs in all different languages, but mostly from the Oro Kaiva area. I didnt really know or understand what they really meant, but I liked the tune of the song. Although, we came through some rough ends, the track wasn't that bad, only it was slippery though.

Before I knew it we where in Alola, it probably took 2 us two hours to get there after leaving the Battlefield.
There at Alola, the villages brought some bananas and mandarines to eat, there was alot, so we all had full tummys before heading out again. We were on our way down a hill, when all of a sudden I slipped and almost went over, but lucky for me Nathan Keen was there, and he grabbed hold of me, the minute I slipped down.

The trail was mostly descending at this time, and alot of creek crossings, the creeks water was beautiful, the water came down from the mountains, so tasted really good, like water in a deep freezer.

At a point of time, I was leading the way dwon a path, when I came across a snake lying right in the middle of the track, with it's head in the bushes and the whole body right on the path. Gosh.... it was scary, I didnt know whether it was dead or alive, all I know is that, that thing is lying there and hell no am I going to go over it like that.
All I did was came to a full stop, and started moving backwards and kept saying, "OH MY GOSH!!! ****....****....****....SNAKE!!! Tom, Rod, Mark and Ilyana didnt know why I was moving back, so Tom had move up front and asked what was wrong and I said there's a snake, snake on the path way, he quickly told Ilyana and I to move behind so that Rod would check it out before we moved on. Mark pulled me up to the rock he was standing on, to see if the snake was dead or alive, but to my surprise the snake was already dead.

Along the way, I could feel drops of showers on me, not big ones just tiny drops. I new then, that we were ecpecting something much more bigger then that, the clouds above our heads grew darker, it made the day look as though it was 5:30pm or 6pm in the afternoon, although it was only 11am or 11:30am that morning.

When we were almost near Iora creek, the rain came like nothing can stop it, it just dropped heavy, and we could hear the river current from top of the mountain, just running wild. Indeed it was, when we got to Iora creek, the once know as Iora creek looked like a raging storm angry river, moving faster then ever and the water level just rised all the way to the foot-path.
Iora was where our next camp site was, but on the other side and in order to get there, we have to cross the creek. We had come along way by now, and we were all straving, the amazing thing was, the porters knew that, so they quickly prepared our lunch and in no time, we had lunch.
While we were eating the porters and guide worked on making a new bridge for us to cross, because the previous one had been swept away by the fast flowing water. It was quite scary and partly dangerous, but the porters were amazing, and very much skillful, they went out of their way just to make a bridge and get us all safely across, in such a weather and in a fast flowing water. And that is what I call true Fuzzy Wazzy Angels.

I was amazed to see how fast the bridge was made, and how the porters arranged themselves along the bridge, it was unbelieveable or just incredible.
We were assisted by our porters at all corners, of the bridge, so I felt really safe and I knew that these guys were going to take good care of us, no matter what.
When we all got to the other side, we climbed the last mountain and WA..LA..we where at the campsite. The ground was wet and muddy, so we quickly set our tents.
I didnt really enjoy the weather that night, but certainly enjoyed Michaela and James company.

Iora Creek
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Last edited by Jessie; 30-08-2005 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 11:27 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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On the forth day, the track was getting pretty hard, these time it was more about climbing mountains and hills and I mean BIG mountains. The track was as usual slippery, but not too muddy, just that there where still alot of roots coming out of the ground and like I said the roots were much more slippery. We had to climb two mountains, you can say two is just two, but to go over 8 falls peak for one mountain, mahn!! That is like climbing 8 mountains, and its really hard and tough.
Walking up the first mountain was never ending, we made a stop up at Templeton's Crossing 2, had some rest, and awhile later we moved on to Templeton's Crossing 1, there we had lunch. Templeton's 1 and 2 were part of the first mountain, so we haven't touched the second mountain yet. Both my thighs and calf mussels hurt, but I didnt want that to get in my way, and bother me with my walk, so I paid no attention to it.

After lunch, we all headed up to the top of Mt Bellamy, the second mountain, and the highest mountain of the whole trail. Mt Bellamy was steep and there where alot of turns to do, like zig zagging.
Because it was a nice sunny weather that day, the ground around that area was strong so it was a bit easier to climb up.
I always thought that climbing up hill was hard, but I was wrong, going down is even harder. You put all the pressure on your knees and let it carry the whole weight of your body and thats just too much. I dont know about everybody else, but thats how I felt.
When we got to the top, we wasted no time but continued on to our next destination, and that was to go down to Myola Junction. And that was where i felt all the pressure on my knees, geezz... it was soooo painful, and to make it worse, I twised my right ankle for the first time. There were alot of tree roots along that path, so we had to be extra careful how we maneuver downward and what we step on. I guess, I wasnt looking at where I was going, well it served me right. Because of me Eric, Ilyana and I were the last ones to reach our campsite, Tin Roof, or better known as Myola Junction. That night I was so tired after doing a lot of climbing, so I took an early nap straight after dinner.

Tin-roof or better known as Myola Junction
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Last edited by Jessie; 30-08-2005 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 11:33 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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On the fifth day, it was okay, the track was balanced. Well, not actually balanced, but it was good, though it was a very long walk. Satisfying for me, though I had no idea how the others felt. There was this particular mountain we climbed before reaching Naduri, with waterfall coming down and we had to walk along side it. It was, soooo beautiful, even words itself cannot describe the place. The waterfall area was like, surrounded with tress and plants, so the whole place was dark, and we were like, walking under the dark shady path. But with the little rays of sun light penetrating through, the place looked picturesque or should I say magical.
I mean, just looking at the place, I just loved it. I don't really know how the others point of view was, towards the place, but I definitely fell in love with it, the moment I set foot in the area.



The waterfall
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Last edited by Jessie; 26-10-2004 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 11:38 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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Naduri was just at the top; we had lunch there and continued later on to Efogi 2 and then Efogi 1, where our fifth camp site was. Before we got there, we came to a river where everyone wanted to wash, and they did, but not me. I wanted to go to the camp site and have a nice good shower. The camp site had two guest houses, one for the trekkers and the other for the porters, a haus-win that had fruits waiting for us when we got there, a little house cook and not to mention a shower tap. I went straight for shower after we got there, and it was the longest I had. It was 1:30pm; there was still enough time to do our own staff. The guys went to the airstrip to play, touch footy, pretty interesting. After there game we all went to the main village to play volleyball. Most of the trekkers didnít play, they stood and just watched us.

That evening, we had a special delicious meal, complements of Mr. John McRae, who decided that we should have a different food menu for the night, which was really generous of him. Not only did we have a nice meal, but there was something to drink with, this time complements of the Polley family. The food was nicely prepared by the porters, mahn! These guys can really cook. That night was just perfect, the moon was in its full form and the whole camp site, was brightly lit up with light. We all went in the house cook to keep warm around the fire, while we were there; we told stories and shared jokes. After a little while, everyone started feeling tired and one by one started moving to the guest house to sleep. The trekkersí guest-house was full and there was no way, Ilyana and I could go and sleep inside. So, we went to the portersí guest house to sleep there, the porters gave us a room just for the both of us. That night the porters sang so many local songs that sounded really nice, Eric told them to stop, because he didnít want them to disturb us, but Ilyana and I wanted to hear them so we told Eric not to stop them singing.




The boys playing touch-footy at the Efogi 1, air-strip
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Last edited by Jessie; 26-10-2004 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 22-10-2004, 11:44 AM
Jessie Jessie is offline
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The next day we walked from Efogi 1 to Menari which was quite a distance but worth it. We climbed a mountain first; at the top of it, we could see the whole Efogi village. We continued climbing until we got to Brigade hill were we stopped, to view the great scenery from the top. The view was fabulous because we could see everything from the top. On our way down, we dumped into another group of trekkers, from Kokoda Trail Trekking Limited. But they were going the opposite direction; most of them were, under the age of 17, strong and young, keen trekkers.

Although, it was just 10:35 am, it looked as if it was passed midday. The sun was shining and the place was so hot. We were almost to our sixth camp site, Menari. We didnít have lunch along the way, because it was too early to have lunch, besides, the camping area was not far. But I was starving, my whole body was weak and I couldnít even lift one leg up to follow the others. Rod was beside me the whole time; he was really supportive, he encouraged me and made me focus on my walk, until I reached the camp site. I guess? Maybe it's because, I didn't eat much during breakfast, before walking. So as a result, the climbing and walking, definitely consumed most of my energy. When we got to Menari, the villagers brought fruits for us to eat, they were very nice. One of the girl even, let us use her line to hang our wet clothes, after washing.

That evening, Tom (Jnr) and I walked around the village giving balloons and lollies to the kids in the village, it was fun and enjoyable. But at the same time, it was the villagers Sabbath day, and the place was quiet, and there werenít many children around, because most of them had gone to church. The place was getting darker, and Salvador, one of the food porters, came looking for us. It was our dinner time. When we got back to the camp sight, everyone had already eaten. Ilyana served my food and left it on the side, so that when I got back, Iíll just eat my meal, someone did the same for Tom.

The night was spectacular with the full moon; the whole village was brightly lit up with the moon light. After meal, Ilyana, Scott, James, Nathan and I went into the house cook to sit around the fire. There we talked about so many things, Ilyana and I asked Scott, about, work and Rugby League. It was nice; the guys came up with an idea that Ilyana and I would teach them Pidgin. It was funny too, because most words, they didnít pronounce well and we had to say a word bit by bit, until they got them right. But it was cool, they did very well. After that everyone took an early nap, but not for Tom, Mark, Ilyana and I, we decided to sit around the fire for a little while, before going off to sleep. This time it was outside the house cook, it was great though, we talked about everything and anything, they shared things about themselves and their side of the country and we did the same, until we came short of stories to tell. Meaning we were beginning to feel sleepy. So we all went to bed.

To continue reading this article by Jessie, please look at the bottom right hand side and CLICK ON 2 = Page 2


The Polley family up at Brigade Hill
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Last edited by Jessie; 28-10-2004 at 03:24 PM.
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