Lost in the Valley of Diamonds cont.

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Photo - Simon Avery © 1999

Two of the Marks – the oldest Mark, who was one of the leaders, and Mark Bizzell – set out to get help. We thought that, if they could get the Ranger, he could show us the easiest way to get Kim out. By travelling up a fairly steep path, they could cover the distance faster than the rest of us, and bring help more quickly.

Then, I don't know just how it happened, but someone up at the lookout knew we were down there. They were shouting down to us, and we could hear them. We let them know that we had an injured person in our party. I can clearly remember Kevin shouting up to them, "Can you get the Ranger?"

Things seemed to happen quickly after that – it was as if we had been in slow motion all day, and then someone pressed the 'fast forward' button. Later, we worked out that it took us about nine hours to cover 11/2 km. What we didn't know, down on the Valley floor, was that a series of seeming coincidences helped to speed things up quite a lot.

The Ranger, who was not expected at the Crows Nest Falls campsite at all that day, had called in anyway. Carried on the back of his ute was his motorbike, which he had just picked up from Crow's Nest because it had been serviced. He was able to get on his motorbike, and ride along the walking paths, and the track we should have taken, to eventually meet us near the lower part of the descent.

The two Marks, in search of the Ranger, met him astride the mechanical charger, already en route to the rescue. I remember my distinct sensation of relief at seeing Kim on the back of the motor bike, on her way to safety. After that, nothing else seemed to matter so much, and nothing was as difficult as it had been. The burden of responsibility had been lifted.

Back at Crows Nest Falls campsite, it was wonderful to be met by the cars that took us back to Shannon Park. Having a shower, changing into clean clothes was a dream-like experience. At mealtime, the food seemed luxurious. What had been previously normal was a treat. The scratches and bruises on my body became something to laugh about.

Around the camp fire at Shannon Park that night, there was an atmosphere of celebration as each group shared something of what they'd experienced through the week's activities. For our bushwalking group, there was possibly a keener sense of relief and gratitude after our brush with danger. We put more exuberance into our skit canning Kev's cooking than was really fair, and laughed at it. We also, quite seriously, talked about some of the things that 'just happened' at the right time - a tree in the right place (for me) a nurse when we needed her, a ranger on a motorbike.

We were conscious of God's hand in this, and were thankful for his protection, and for him showing us how he'd cared for us.

Margie Vonhoff
Copyright, 1999.
All rights reserved.

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