Lost in the Valley of Diamonds cont.
I clung on desperately, facing the tree, the backpack outward toward the ravine. I waited for the willing hands to pull me up, away from the edge, to give me balance again. They came, and I moved away, gratefully. The whole time I didn't see the mini cliff I could have fallen down. I was informed - much later - that it was at least 30 metres – much further than the distance I couldn't bring myself to abseil down!

When I had recovered, we moved on, going further and further down, into the Valley. It was steady going. When we got towards the bottom of the valley, it was to get much harder. Following the rocky outcrops, sometimes containing water from the creek, we were fighting to make any progress. Eventually, we took to using a rope to help climp up and over the rocky outcrops. One of the highschoolers - another boy named Mark – had offered his belt as a climbing aid. At one point, someone let go of it at the wrong time, and it slithered, like a slim snake, between a gap in the rocks and was lost.

I was aware, as the going got really difficult, that we were expecting a lot of the high school campers in our charge. I could barely keep up myself. We were also relying more and more on young Mark Bizzell, as if he were a leader, instead of a camper. Then, as Mark was being lowered on a rope, to go over another rocky obstacle, he slipped, and almost dragged Kevin and another leader (also named Mark!) down over the rock. Thankfully, Mark was unhurt and in good spirits – showing remarkable composure for a fourteen year old.

Why did we keep going on, instead of turning back? One reason was, we did know roughly where we were – the lowest part of the Valley of Diamonds! We also expected that the going would get easier.

 

As we travelled through the valley. We should, we thought, turn a literal corner, and come out of the valley, and be able to travel straight up the slope towards the elusive wall of the dam.

All of the school student campers had shown fine qualities under trial. I don't remember them complaining about the hard going. Probably their 'trooper' attitude led us to press on. Logically speaking, it seemed that what lay ahead of us may be easier than going back over what we'd already come through. However, that was not to be… After several 'near misses', one of our group was injured.

As we were climbing over a high conglomeration of rock, one of the girls, Kim, fell. Her knee was hurt and, although she too didn't complain, she needed help to walk. We also needed help. We had to get her back out of the Valley, without further wear and tear.

Initially, Kevin travelled on ahead, towards the dam, to see if we were near a breakthrough, which would make that the better path to follow. He didn't find a smooth path, but he did find a couple of bushwalkers who were camping in the Valley. One of them just happened to be a nurse, and she came to check Kim's injuries, and help where she could.

 

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