Cape York: Helenvale – Cape Tribulation (78km)

A lazy morning.
Our benevolent leaders allowed us the rare luxury of sleeping in on Monday morning — breakfast was served in the Lion’s Den buffett area around 8am. We all puttered around the area for a little bit while Roy and Joel fixed the front sprocket and an unbalanced wheel from the day before.

The Lion’s Den has a little work area where people can fix up their vehicles, and it was neat to watch the guys work. There were no torque wrenches or measuring tools to be found — they do this work on these bikes so often that everything is done by recognition, touch, fee, sight. Roy had the offending wheel off, the broken spokes replaced, the rim rebalanced, and a new tire put on in under 20 minutes. It was a religious sight.

The morning’s pep talk was a bit more regimented due to the previous day’s confusion about who was going where with which group. We would all take the Bloomfield Track south from Helenvale, and the advanced group would peel off of the main route to do some “nasty greasy mud” before meeting us back at Wujal Wujal falls.

Roy reassured us that despite the Lion’s Den bumper stickers reading “I survived the Bloomfield Track!!”, it really wasn’t all that bad — “unless it starts raining”.

As if on cue… started raining.

The Bloomfield Track.
I don’t have any photos of the track, actually, because I was in an absolutely horrible mood that morning. It was raining, it was cold, I was last in the group, the river crossings were hard, whine whine whine whine.

Peter, Dennis, and I arrived at Wujal Wujal falls as the rain was letting up for the morning. The slick granite rocks were wet and slippery and a bit tricky to walk around on. The falls themselves were spectacular — one benefit to the rain — and we all ate sandwiches from our waist packs and wandered about looking (unsuccessfully) for crocodiles.

The ubiquitous yellow “here there be crocodiles” sign:

Wujal Wujal (Bloomfield) Falls:

It started raining again as we waited for the rest of the group. Sitting on the rocks meant getting wet from the rain, but sitting under the trees meant the occasional flump of a weighted branch would unleash all of its rainwater upon the head. It was rather a no-win situation. Just as we gave up on staying dry and started wandering back to the bikes, the group appeared in the parking area. It had taken them longer than expected because they had to backtrack — the rain meant one of the river crossings was too deep and moving too fast to cross. A bike and rider could be swept downstream before anyone would even notice a problem.

Roller coaster hills to Cape Trib.
The rain meant everyone was going slowly, since the road was that slick mud/clay business through the rainforest. The track twisted and winded up and down over the Great Dividing Range as we crossed into Daintree National Park. The steepest of the hills had been paved (and by “steepest”, I mean STRAIGHT UP and STRAIGHT DOWN) but a number of butt-clenchingly sharp grades were muddy and slick and often had tourists in Land Cruisers coming straight at us from the opposite direction.

I got stuck partway across one river crossing when my front tire got up on a rock and I couldn’t reach the river bottom with either foot to balance myself. I tipped the bike way over to the side to get my right foot down, but then I didn’t have enough leverage in the rushing water to right the bike and start off again. It was the only time in the trip when I just broke down from exhaustion and frustration. I thought the guys who’d already crossed the river were laughing at me (turned out they were laughing at a car who’d gone through the river just before me, in fourth gear, with no snorkel….whooooooosh! glug glug glug). I felt short and stupid and totally useless. Grump! Grump!

Joel walked across the river and got the bike from me and I stomped across the river on foot, pouting.

By the time we reached PK’s Jungle Village at Cape Tribulation, I had pretty much given up on the day, which was actually remarkably freeing. Arriving at our destination in the pouring rain, soaked to the bone, cold, and having to pee like crazy, I was smiling maniacally since, well, it’s not like things could really get worse.

PK’s Jungle Village.
PK’s is a sort of cross between a budget resort and a youth hostel — I’m pretty sure our group were the oldest people there. The rooms were decent enough and had a double bed for us and a bunk bed to hang up soaking gear, plus there were hot showers (!) and a good beer selection.

The evening was warm, though it was still raining, and we all hung out on the deck, drinking beer, playing pool, and mingling around with one another.

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