Failing Forward

with Daniel Cassadio

Prologue – Chapter 1: Holy Sheet

PrologueRaegan ZacherComment

I wrote this blog:

In the comfort of my own bed at home. 

So here we were, three naïve 17 year old friends hiking the Stirling Rangers in the South West bottom corner of Australia. With no experience of hiking, my friends and I did one of Western Australia’s most dangerous hike. Whilst we were away my mum did research into the hiking trip and the sources said that this hike is for ‘experienced hikers’ and should be well prepared for the ranging weather conditions. 

And for us, we had no idea what to pack, I mean will it be freezing or will it be boiling hot? And the limited space we each had in our backpacks did not help at all. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, but we were excited! Our goal was to try and get to the cave that is within the mountains and we would make camp there for a night.

The three of us agreed that whenever conflict arose like which path to take; we would take a vote and the two votes dictates which path to take. We thought this was a good system, until we voted against the right path that could of taken us straight to the cave we were trying to get to. 

So this misfortunate hike suddenly turned bad when we had to backtrack our path. But we didn’t really know which path to take so we decided to get off the man made track and we cut into the bushes. We made our own path because we thought we could cut through and get to the cave quicker. We hiked up and down mountains, with a few close calls of falling off. As time went by as did our energy and motivation. We came to a point where we needed to do another vote. Ethan voted we continue cutting through the mountains because he thinks the cave was not to far away. Yet Jake wanted to finish hiking up this big mountain we were in front of and hope to find some shelter for the night. It was late in the afternoon and time was not our friend. With a lot of discussion the vote went towards hiking up this mountain that was in front of us. 

This mountain was big and scary and it was named Mt. Isongerup on our little worn out booklet. As we started to hike the mountain as fast as we could to try and beat the sun from disappearing; considering that was the only object we had for light. I know pretty dumb right? Trust me, it gets dumber.
There were times where the cliff face was too hard to walk around, so we had to rock climb and it was quite daunting to think one slip and I’m gone.
We created a system where someone would be at the bottom of the climb, someone in the middle (that’s where I was) and someone on the top, and this way we could pass our bags up the rock faces much easier and without having that the bags weight on our backs.
As I gave the last bag and was ready to climb up, I lost grip of a rock and as I fell back off the cliff face, for a split second I thought I was literally falling to my death. My fingers were grabbing anything on the way down as I was about to descend my fall. Somehow my fingers clinched onto a rock stinking out and I pulled myself up straight away and let out a bit of a scream.
But I didn’t exactly have time to reflect on my near death experience because the sun was just about to sink into the earth. 

As we climbed over and finally got on top of Mt Isongerup, it was a very pretty sight to see the Stirling Rangers in the sunset. It really was beautiful to see the orange and yellow sunset colors reflect off the mountains. The colors were so vibrant, rich and just real and raw. I loved it, we all did. But that was very quickly interrupted when the sun disappeared. Then followed black heavy clouds coming our way, it got dark and windy pretty quickly. It was not a fun vibe at all. 

We couldn’t find any rocks for shelter, so we hid ourselves in the little plants that swarmed the whole top of Mt. Isongerup summit. 

We then got all our stuff ready for the night, as my friends got into their sleeping bags and tried to get as rugged up and as warm as they could before the rain and whatever else that may follow. I had a problem, a massive problem. I only had a sheet for warmth.. I forgot my sleeping bag! Once again, desperate times lead to desperate measures. A couple moments later I found myself cuddling Jake as we tried to find ways to fit into his sleeping bag. We got really creative and we did find ourselves to be very, very warm. Like we did every spooning/cuddling position possible to keep warm. Brother hood was truly taken to the next step. 

It was really weird though, because as we looked up in horror and anticipation to get rained on. We didn’t. The clouds somehow started to clear up and we were thrilled to see such a beaming and beautiful night sky. It would have been perfect if Jake was a female, but.. he’ll do. We continued cuddling and us three chatted and chatted for hours. 

I awoke to the rain bucketing down on us, which made Jake and I cuddle tighter. Judge all you want, but we were freezing! I’m not to sure how much sleep we got from chatting, sticks pocking into our backs, rain, the coldness of being wet and Jake stealing most of the sleeping bag. But in the end we were awake at first light and it was beautiful to wake up to. The scenes we saw were absolutely magnificent.

We had a walk around the mountain to really soak in the view. But we did need to keep moving and get back to our car because we had no idea how long the hike back would take. As we ate our Nutella crepe breakfast and had some water to keep us hydrated. This morning’s first problem arose. After breakfast we realized that we had only a few sips left of water each, we all thought we had another 1L water bottle. And there we were stuck up this mountain. 

Nevertheless we started our hike back to the car and it can be much harder walking down the mountain with a big backpack on. Your legs and core muscles get sore from leaning back so much – so you don’t roll over on down the hill.
We continued hiking until we got maybe around half way and we were all so incredibly thirsty. Nutella is unbelievably dehydrating… lesson learnt. We finished off our water bottles and continued hiking in a hurry, so we can make it to the water supply in the car before we are well and truly dehydrated.  Whilst we were hiking through the bush trying to find some sort of trial, we found something else. We thought hiking on a trial would be absolute paradise because there’s nothing to push through or branches snapping back and giving you a hit. What we found was somehow so much more than what we could of asked. 

Loads and loads of small rocks all together that went down the mountain, pretty much a rock slide. We looked in disbelief; nothing was going our way until now. We ran and jumped onto the rocks and slid down with huge smiles and laughs on our faces. Sometimes you had to push yourself along the rocks to get a bit more speed or dodge the trees then once you pass, simply push off to get more speed. It was a lot of fun and almost sad when the slide came to an end, but that was okay we covered so much distance from getting off the mountain. 

As we continued hiking through the bushes our throats did start to come dry and we were in need of anything that was a liquid. Anything!

10, 20, 30, maybe even an hour or maybe even 2 hours later of death dehydrated walking we heard a soft sound. A soft trickling sound. We flirted with the idea that something good was around, but didn’t dare get our hopes up. 

We did our best to follow the sound and then our hopes went through the roof! We found a stream! We weren’t a 100% sure if the stream would be good to drink but we were so dehydrated, we needed something. 

The water was fresh and clear. We drank until we had stiches when we started walking again and filled up all our water bottles. 

After we were well nourished by the water and continued our hike to the car. It wasn’t long before we got back onto the man made trail. And we simply had to follow this and it would take us straight to our car. We rejoiced, laughed and sang together. And when we were pretty much finished the path and the car was maybe only 300 meters away from us, we saw a sign saying ‘Hiking Prohibited from April 14th- April 16th, Rough Conditions Occurring. 

Obviously we didn’t see this sign when we started our hike and obviously those dates were right then and there. 

We got in the car, all muddy, dirty, wet and exhausted. We took a few minutes, then we drove away. I remember looking back on the mountain range as we were leaving, seeing what we conquered. Seeing the adventure come to an end but it really did inspire all of us to keep on making the most of this world. 

We’ll back Stirling Rangers and at some point we will make it to the cave. That’s a promise!