After 2 days ‘crook’, Aussie for ill, I am back out in the field. My last day at the house was so miserable that the guests didn’t even ride. Hail was due but didn’t actually materialise but I’m sure you get the picture. The forecast though, was for more sunshine, no rain and temperatures rising at the weekend. Wednesday was camp changeover day. We missed this walk last time as we were doing the change over so were keen to do it this week. I wanted to ensure that I completed the walk even if I didn’t stay out over night. Roger had had to relinquish the double swag so the singles, whilst possibly giving more space, wouldn’t be as cosy.
We set off in glorious sunshine and it wasn’t long before everyone started shedding layers, hats and gloves. No guests rode initially as a few of the camels were a little frisky after their day off but soon calmed down. Roger and I were on ‘point’ duty on the respective ‘strings’. This meant walking along on the left side (they are all tied on the left) ensuring that riders and line are OK, shouting to the lead if not. The lead cameleer is taking the first camel and hoping that the others follow and although able to look back occasionally, do tend to look ahead to plan the route and observe for obstructions or fodder (on the left!) So ours was a very responsible job, mine more so after the first change when the 2 boys got on Trevor. A 6 and an 8 year old riding together on the most sedate and best behaved camel but still with the potential for problems. However, they did behave themselves pretty well even if they managed to talk solidly, about nothing, for over 4 hours!
Roger is becoming more and more accomplished and confident with the camels and has even led the A string a few times, much to his delight. Only Mission seems to have taken against him for some reason; Karen says that it could be that the man who abused him wore the same type of hat but who knows. I have been responsible enough to hold baby Raja but he did plough through me when one of the kids approached him with a handful of weeds. Although not fully grown, there isn’t much that can stand in the way of a 400kg camel and food! I was then promoted to holding Trevor and Raja for a time whilst Tanami executed his ‘I’m not sitting down and you can’t make me’ trick. Paul even resorted to using the rope around one leg but he can still stand firm on 3 legs at 800kg, until he decides to sit down. It can then be the same antics to stand up but as one of the gentle cuddly ones it is difficult to get annoyed with him.
The temperature plummets as the sun sinks and we knew we were in for a cold night so wrapped up warm and covered ourselves with an extra tarp. Coming morning, the latter was distinctly crisp as I bent it backwards away from the front opening of the swag to greet the day. The ice was evident on the outer tarp and our charges with sprinkled with a topping of frost on their humps. Whilst we aren’t late risers, Annise likes to get up as it is getting light, about 6am and Paul tends to rise at 6.30 to start the fires. By the time we are up, by 7am, the water is beginning to come to the boil so first rounds of tea are nearly ready before starting on to cooking the breakfasts already prepared by Anise. She has enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of these early hours but now has a ‘partner’ in Olivia who also gets up early and seems to be struggling to find her place in the team.
By 10.30 breakfast is finished and cleared away, the wraps and lunches are prepared, camels are brushed and saddled so everyone is ready to break camp whilst divesting themselves of a few layers. I had chosen not to walk as my foot took a bashing on the rocky terrain the previous day and the following day would be quite long to compensate for the rainy disappointment. Also I had completed this day’s walk the previous week so was happy to stay behind, potter around the camp and have the fires burning and the billy on for when people returned as well as preparing the evening meal. Not a bad task in the sunshine (although still a chill wind!)