A wet and windy (day) trip in the Blue Breaks (sorta)

Party: Rocky (Joshua Hill), my existential and physical pain, and some other guys…

I would like to give my perspective on the apparent controversy of me (Joshua) walking out alone from Squatting Rock Gap, to Yerranderie. First off I would like to clear up the issue of me “blacking out…on the decent”. This was not the case. Never the less I was still quite ill. A week before the trip I had a tooth (molar) extraction. Leading up to the trip I was quite uncomfortable but not in a life threating situation. I try and avoid the use of antibiotics and up to that point decided that the use of antibiotics were not necessary. To drive this point fully the dentist did not prescribe antibiotics in the first place.

I carry in my first aid kit, with full consultation with my family doctor (with whom I have seen for eight years not some medical centre quack) on both their appropriate use and side effects: a full spectrum antibiotic, Panadeine Forte, Tramadol, and a prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. Up to this point I had not needed to use any of these medications on any of my trips. Arriving at Batsh camp I had noticed that instead of the pain decreasing it was getting slowly worse. I knew that the possibility of pulling out of the trip would be best decided once my physical symptoms where tested out in the bush. By the time I arrived at Mt Colong the full extent of my infection became apparent.

During the ascent of Mt Colong, combined with the physical exertion of climbing a relatively steep ascent, increased blood pressure due to the climb, and a fully circulating lymphatic system, I became quite uncomfortable from the pain radiating from my mouth and jaw. I did not black out at any stage during the ascent but I did get a bit dizzy from the pain. At the top of Mt Colong I took two Panadeine Forte and decided that I most likely would not continue on the trip. A couple of hours later at Squatting Rock Gap I informed the group that, while possible, it would be best if I did not continue on the rest of the planned trip.

From Squatting Rock Gap it was about 10km to Yerranderie on well-formed fire trails. I walked for three hours alone, taking plenty of rest breaks and arrived at the care takers cottage at around 6pm. Tom, the care taker, did not have to rush me to hospital or administer emergency first aid. In fact at that point I was feeling much better and enjoyed a nice meal and a home brewed beer with Tom. I was fully prepared to walk to Batsh Camp from Yerranderie but Tom was very kind and drove me to my car the next day.

This brings up the question if Tim and the rest of the group did the right thing in letting me walk back to the car by myself. I believe that they did the right thing. At no point was I in need of direct emergency first aid. I was lightheaded and slow on the assent of Mt Colong but not in a life threating situation. (Well maybe if I did lose consciousness and slipped and split my head open on the sharp basalt I would have been another story…)

I made, in what I believe, a fully conscience risk benefit analysis on my situation and knew that continuing would have been unpleasant. I find it repugnant that people might think that my fellow bushwalkers would leave me in a life threating situation. I have walked with Tim for years and trust his ability to make the right call in any situation. I choose not to “press on regardless” because I could see that in three or four day’s time I ‘could’ arrive at a situation that my infection could require direct medical attention and thus require either a modification of plans or extraction. I doubt this would have been the case because I would and ‘did’ start a treatment of antibiotics.

One question I have is; how is my situation described any different from walking in the bush alone? I do know that there is a myriad of opinions and I would like to hear how my situation fits into the debate between group and solo walking.

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