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More than reliable transportation or a destination or extensive provisioning, any Performance Journalist™ worth their salt requires for success in any endeavor or pursuit only a quality Wool Blanket. Wool blankets can be fashioned into a jacket, as in a capote, or a cloak or cape. They can be used to wrap and therefore protect your valuables during travel as well as camouflage said valuables regrettably but necessarily left overnight in a car in a dimly lit motel parking lot. In place of an otherwise useless cotton towel pre-and-post hot spring, swim hole, hobo slap, etc. As a bedroll, a napkin (albeit an oversized napkin), a pillow, a sack or makeshift bag, a brightly colored and nicely delineated picnic or lunch spot, for love-making, in defense against nearly feral or overly habituated animals, a lightweight saddle alternative, fire containment and for bivouacking and/or enhancing an otherwise primitive shelter. For wound care and poultices. Protection against the elements like dust, wind, direct sunlight, etc., as well as volatile and/or tempestuous weather. Insulation be it fixed, semi-permanent or temporary. To appear Period Correct if which period is the whole of the 1800s. A blanket and/or ad-hoc burrito-style mummy bag. And finally, if need be, they can be soaked in various nutrients, broths, herbs and tinctures for later oral or topical application.
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The heat boiled our blood. The climb broke our backs.
Start – Stop: Tumut – Wolgal Hut
Distance: 60.8 mi.
Elevation Gain: 9308 ft.
Riding Time: 7:42:07
Time Awake Spent in Pursuit of The Trip, Roughly: 9:00:00
Weather: Hot and sunny with a light fragrance of roadside carcass.
Day 05 Objects & Points of Interest
Visit Tumut Ranger Station and enjoy the artifacts and taxidermied animals.
Ride the Snowy Mountain Highway.
Lunch and stock provisions at Talbingo.
Sleep at Wolgal Hut.
A Brief Timeline of our Ride from Tumut to Wolgal Hut
8:07am: Lachlan and Kyle wake up and mosey back to the hotel restaurant for the much-advertised and promoted breakfast.
8:08am: The lights are off as are the sterno trays. Breakfast has a ‘closed’ vibe, like a Wee Jasper closed vibe.
8:12am: Lachlan and Kyle run into the hotel’s owner in the parking lot.
8:12am: Hotel owner, “You lot going to have breakfast?’
8:12am: Us, “Restaurant is closed, looks like none of us are going to have breakfast.”
8:12am: Hotel owner, “:(“
8:12am: Hotel owner, “To tell you the truth boys I’m trying to sell this place, have a couple buyers on the line, should be out from under it in two weeks. Longest two weeks of your life boys. This cook, he’s good, but a handful, I’ll get him up, check back in the restaurant around 9.”
8:13am: Us, “Okay, you don’t have to, but thanks.”
8:13am: Hotel Owner, “It’s my pleasure boys, my pleasure.”
9:00am: We show up for breakfast. The cook, who warmed to us the night before, even gifted us with a surprise dessert plate of sliced mangos, has reverted back to what we can only assume is his cold and cantankerous everyday self.
9:15am: Breakfast shows up. Eggs, potatoes, and four kinds of meats: ham, breakfast sausage, bacon, and what appears to be a cooked Slim Jim. Nobody snapped into it.
9:37am: The hotel owner comes to talk with us once again, “Okay guys, where you from? The States, you all sound like you’re from the States.”
9:37am: Lachlan, “I’m from here, from Port Macquarie.”
9:37am: Hotel Owner, “Oh yeah, then why do you have a American accent?”
9:37am: FOR THE RECORD, Lachlan definitely does not have an American accent.
9:37am: Lachlan, “I don’t.”
9:37am: Hotel Owner, “Well you fooled me.”
10:17am: We’re assembled in the parking lot and ready to start riding when the hotel owner approaches.
10:17am: “I’ve got a daughter around your age, any of you married?”
10:18am: We take a group photo with the hotel owner and start riding.
10:30am: Before we can officially hit the road we need to check in with Simon, he’s the ranger in charge of Wolgal Hut. He gives us the rundown on hut protocol.
10:35am: There is discussion about hiring Simon to drop food at the hut for us, since he says he’s headed up that way. This would save us from having to pack a ton of food up the climb.
10:36am: Simon is unsure he’ll be headed past the hut. We must pack our food.
11:20am: The first carcass of the day is spotted on the side of the road. It turns out we will see our Australian Megafauna today; unfortunately we’ll only get to experience them in a post-car/truck/ute collision state.
11:21am: The Snowy River Highway is a Death Highway.
11:23am: Turns out that Australia is hot in the summer. Also, it turns out that if you don’t start riding until 11:00am you wind up riding through the hottest part of the day. We were taught this lesson daily but somehow it never seemed to sink in.
11:45am: Lachlan had this little portable speaker with him and today’s memorable jam was Aussie legend John Williamson’s Hey True Blue.
12:15pm: We reach Talbingo, the last place to provision before climbing up to Wolgal Hut. The climb starts just outside Talbingo, and from the town you can hear trucks engine braking their way down the hill. Also it’s really hot.
12:55pm: We’ve added weight to our bodies via lunch and weight to our bikes via dinner. This little break has also really allowed the temperature to spike. Just in time for the climb!
12:56pm: Daniel is particularly inventive with his storage and transport solutions, turning his SWAT bibs into full blown spandex cargo shorts.
1:45pm: We hit Black Perry Lookout. A couple from Atlanta rolls up in an RV. They are not friendly. The climb to this point was steep and hot. Daniel rests his forehead on the railing of the lookout, because it’s made of metal and party in the shade. Things are feeling a bit rocky.
1:50pm: The road begins to level out a bit.
4:17pm: We arrive at the Yarrangobilly Caves turn off. Lachlan’s pretty sure that poisonous Rock Fish don’t swim in creeks this high up, but he’s not positive. Fortunately, despite being nearly impossible to see, you’ll know if you step on one because their sting is excruciating.
4:18pm: We risk it and cool our feet and legs in the creek. It’s a wonderful feeling.
5:45pm: Wolgal Hut!!! We’ve made it.
6:30pm: Hot showers, snacks, and a gas fire. The temperature has definitely dropped.
6:31pm to 10pm-ish: We make dinner, lounge around, tell jokes.
10:00pm to Z:ZZpm: This hut is haunted.
Communication is a KEY component to an effective and efficient investigation of a culture. In order to 1) understand what people are saying, 2) fit in, 3) keep your foot out of your mouth [You won’t make the mistake of telling your wife you’re looking forward to sharing a coupla sluzzas with friends after dinner because you assumed a sluzza was a mixed ice drink not unlike a blended margarita.], and 4) demonstrate respect via a willingness and excitement to learn, Yonder Journal collaborated with a team of Australian Linguists and Cultural Anthropologists to create an interactive glossary module of common expressions. Especially those which we’d be likely to hear and/or use in the context of a Normcore Bicycle Tour in the Australian In-and-Outback.
MIDDY:a small bottle of beer (285ml/~10oz), typically enjoyed, due its diminutive size and thus lower alcohol content, in the middle of the day, with lunch.
FAIR DINKUM:genuine, true, tru dat, word.
The hotel owner is the woman in the shades. We have NO idea who the other woman is. Kevin and Kyle have on their best party shirts!
Oh, we figured it out. That other woman is a wax statue just erected there in the parking lot. We all gathered around her to take pictures.
A macabre specter shadowed us as we rode from Tumut to Wolgal Hut. The day started with a cantankerous chef who looked like death warmed over.
Pssssst, it's a ranger station.
Foreshadowing the condition of most animals we would see today.
That look when you don't trust anyone, ever.
We rode along a highway littered with carcasses.
Lachlan, "Why am I here?"
Kyle, "I'm having phantom ice cream headaches."
Bingo! You’re in Talbingo!
The heat boiled our blood.
This is the start of the climb. You know how pictures often flatten an image, making it hard to get a sense of incline? Well the road did that to our eyeballs for a while. Notice how there's an incline? Like you really get a sense that there's a big hill there? Riiiiiight, now you're getting it, now this little caption rant should be making sense.
Talbingo Menageries, Fig. 1
Talbingo Menageries, Fig. 2
Pre-Wolgal Hut Shopping List
Specialized Recons – Black and fashionable. The lace up system is really great, allowing for micro adjustment as your feet bloat in the heat of the day and the weight of those tuna cans becomes more and more noticeable.
Long Grain Rice – In blind taste test 9 out of 10 consumers were able to tell, just by mouth feel, that long grain rice is definitely longer than short grain rice. 8 out of 10 consumers associate higher nutritional value with the longer grains. The Dead Reckoning Syd 2 Mel crew noted that until it was poured into a pot for cooking, the rice looked, felt, and weighed like a bag of sand.
Nescafé – Little coffee crystals that liquify when they hit boiling water. Even science doesn’t know how this happens. Turns out Nescafé was one of those great scientific accidents like penicillin or the combustion engine. We don’t know why it works, we just know THAT it works.
Corn Medley – It’s corn doing a hodgepodge of all its greatest hits.
Habanero Tabasco – This was such a surprise find for us! Traditionally Australians are not big on hot spice. So to find this little gem in a nearly-deserted town at the base of the Snowy Mountains was a real treat. Why was it there? Perhaps the purchasing manager bought it as a gag gift, or maybe unbeknownst to us, Talbingo is a hotbed of American tourism? In reality there is probably no clear or reasonable answer, you just accept it as a gift of fortune and move on.
Onion – Named after the famous satirical newspaper, onions will make you cry—but if prepared correctly they can also make you smile. Just like a good joke.
Coconut Milk – Unlike a wild coconut, this can of coconut milk is actual physically possible to open. I don’t know about you, but my imagination is incapable of imagining the Rube Goldberg machine capable of opening a coconut.
Tuna – Laden with valuable protein, these dumbbells of fish meat added notable weight to our packs. But their life-giving sustenance more than made up for their weight.
Thins – Potato chips dipped in saltwater and left to dry. After a long day of riding wherein your body has done its best to rid itself of vital salts, these little babies are a great way to replenish what you’ve lost. Also, they are LIGHTWEIGHT AF!
Ramen – Just add boiling water and the soup in these styrofoam canisters grows and expands just like dinosaurs. What’s interesting is that although the final product is not shaped like a chicken, it tastes like a chicken. As opposed to an expandable dinosaur which, for all intents and purposes, looks exactly like a dinosaur but tastes like a petrochemical accident. I guess you get looks or taste. You can’t have both.
Ripples Cookies – Daniel bought these and we all bemoaned the decision: “Extra weight,” “Don’t need that crap in my body,” “Sugar is death.” But you know what? When we finally made it to Wolgal Hut, these hot little babies were the first to be devoured. Turns out sugar is life.
Koalas are supposed to live here. They don't. As far as we can tell, Australia's eucalyptus trees are collectively an abandoned Koala Bear City. There are all these great trees, with all these great leaves for Koala Bears to chew on and get stoned off. Yet the KBs are nowhere to be found. Seriously what GIVES?!?!
Basically Lachlan is an Omar Sharif-esque cycling Sheik come to survey and conquer the Snowy Mountains. Kevin and Kyle are festooned in the livery of the Sheik's most trusted porters.
Rolling Through Australia’s Great Dividing Range
You can't deny it, there is definitely something very horror-movie about this image.
Hey—Kevin Franks can make a fine coconut curry. And by the way, the tuna, rice, onions, coconut milk, and Jim Beam are not haunted. We brought them to the hut with us. At least we don't think they were haunted. The haunting rules are a bit unclear at this point. If, once an object passes through the threshold of the haunted location in question does it immediately become haunted itself or does it take a haunting, a paranormal activity, for the objects to be imbued with their haunted-ness? If you know the answer, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org