The Rainforest Journal: Outing #16 – Day 3

(Tuesday 16-December-2014)

@~10:30am

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Another feed-intensive night for the young, ever-hungry Possum saw him pig his way through a full banana and a half, before moving-on to buiscuts, flat-bread and dried cranberries.

Shortly after he left, the second Possum – the skittish one – snuck over to scavenge the leftovers and I gotta say I felt a bit sorry for him: prior to this young ones regular visits, this more timid creature got to tuck into at least a cup of pasta each night while I was here. Lately though, the younger, more human-adaptive Possum has scored the bulk of the food, with the timid one left only scraps. Oh well, can’t feed em all.

@~12:00pm

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So it’s about lunchtime, I’ve just filled my bottles at the creek and have taken a seat on a nice, cool, mossy rock to start typing up last nights Possum visitation details when I hear the crunching of rocks on the trail behind me. I turn my head to see what manner of human is approaching and instantly recognise the creepy old guy who I saw on my very first outing down here: Peter. We’ll just go ahead and dub him Creepy Pete.

Creepy Pete: "If you want I can show you the old abandoned hut down that secret trail I mentioned, tomorrow?".. Me: "Yeah, Nah, no. Thanks anyway".

Creepy Pete: “If you want I can show you the old abandoned hut down that secret trail I mentioned, tomorrow?”.. Me: “Yeah, Nah, no. Thanks anyway”.

Now, let me just paint-in the details a little better – since a photo obviously doesn’t belie a persons personality. Details I gleaned from a six HOUR “conversation” that mostly involved Creepy Pete delivering stories from his past: The sixties.

He comes from Wales in the UK, spent much of his earlier years in hippie communes where he apparently came to the mind-numbing conclusion that he could still love a man who’s had sex with his girlfriend, since “not loving a woman if she sleeps around implies ownership” (where have I heard that bullshit before?) and, once he left the cult. . err “commune”, sorry, has spent the last 30-odd-years “following” various Hindu/Buddhist wanke.. sorry, “leaders”.

When he talks, his left eye constantly streams liquid – looks to me to be tears but why it’s only dribbling out one eye is beyond me – and when he laughs both eyes do it. I cannot put into words how unsettling it is to see someone crying as they laugh; but the dood really does appear to be batshit crazy.

Within the – occasionally excruciating – six hour chat-fest there where moments when Creepy Pete was lucid enough – albeit briefly – to permit an actual conversation; we’d not only talk, but be in agreement on matters of bushwalking, comparing animal stories etc, and then he’d decend into another all-out diatribe like only old people can, about some girlfriend he had in the seventies, or a friend of his who bought the wrong shoes on some day-walk and got blisters. I even heard a story – tears rolling down his cheeks as he laughed and told be about a turkey that was attacked by an eagle, then got patched-up by a nice hippie couple, only to be shot several times by a police officer who was called to the scene before apparently becoming “threatened” by said Turkey.

Bat. Shit. Crazy.

For a bit of history, the first time I met Creepy Pete was on Outing #1. I had no idea what – or who – might be out here, and having carried a 90L pack down the Giant Staircase the day before, my legs were so completely ruined that even though I wanted to, I couldn’t physically climb back up that Staircase. Just couldn’t do it.

I’d stashed the pack in the ferns and was walking along Dardanelles Pass looking for potential places to sleep, when I saw this old man trying to shift a fallen tree branch of the trail. I stop and help, he says “your a gentleman” and then proceeds to point out that he and I are “the only ones here” before bursting into laughter – tears streaming down hours cheeks.

Needless to say, I was a bit sketchy about sleeping in my little cave that night, and knowing it was only twenty-meters away from my encounter with this crazy old man certainly didn’t help.

This time though – a full nine months later – things are different and todays run-in with the old man just didn’t bother me. I know the area, I’ve spent so much time out here is more “mine” now than his. And not only do I know every sound the forest makes – night and day – I can hear the difference between a bee and a blow-fly based solely on the frequency of their wings during flight.

Creepy Pete sure talked the day away, true, but to be honest is not like I was in any hurry to be anywhere. He didn’t come across as creepy this time, so much as another sad, lonely old man who never stops talking. He didn’t bother cracking creepy jokes about us being “alone out here” because I couldn’t care less now: This chunk of forest feels more like home than most of the houses I’ve lived in, certainly more-so than any backpackers in town, and.. I don’t know.. Creepy Pete just didn’t creep me out this time. Well, the runny eyes are always a touch creepy, but the little old man they belong to? Pfft.

I did have to cut him of – mid ramble – at what would’ve been about 6:00pm because I’d been watching the sky and saw that the sun no longer hit the top of the tallest Eucalypts, which meant it was getting towards dusk. I pointed this out to him, and told him we only had about an hour of daylight left, and he finally snapped out of it, agreed about the closeness of the impending sunset and apologized for rambling-on like an old fool. I told him, “No worries Bro, I’ll talk the ears of a dead Mule too once I get going. We anti-social types get a build-up of bla-bla, I understand”.

He apologized again, to which I said it’s fine, and we both started walking in opposing directions: He was heading up the mountain to Leura, I back down into the bush.

Anyway that’s about all that happened during the day today, ’cause there wasn’t any time for much else to occur, but as I type this now (9:20pm), Possums are outside the tent munching. I’ve cooked them a proper pasta dinner tonight so I’d better check to see who’s out there.

Last night, the young possum let me pat him; several times. I can confirm that their fur is as soft as an angora sweater.

@9:47am

Woah ho. The younger, friendlier and smaller Possum has just chased a much larger one up a tree; away from the food. Little Possum war going on here. Pity they can’t just share, and shortish the smaller one is more aggressive than the larger.

The Rainforest Journal: Outing #16 – Day 3
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Jason
Animal-loving cleaner with a parrot.

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