Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Stuck in the mud: the Loop

by Elda du Toit

At time figures 06:00 on date figures 16/07/09 Mac, Sophia and Elda departed for the first 09E Loop to visit project sites and deliver their mail, and a chance to buy some goodies from the Raleigh shop.

First stop was Alpha 3. The site is very remote and we trekked for an hour to BBC Camp. However, it was worth it. Imbak is lovely and a great privilege to visit. We received a warm welcome and enjoyed a refreshing wash in the river before dinner. Gere cooked and dinner was served on real plates - no mess tins at the luxurious BBC Camp that is home to Alpha 3!

Unfortunately, the Loop cannot stay at one site for long and we were trekking out with Omar, one of the rangers, early the following morning. A bouncy ride back took us back to where our trusty Bravo was patiently waiting to take us to Alpha 4. There was a bit of a trek to get to their camp site, but fortunately nothing close to getting to BBC Camp. Alpha 4 were still "roughing it" while building their static bashers, so we put up our own bashers among the trees. But the team has done a great job clearing the area and we stayed in relative jungle luxury. Katherine prepared a great tomato, vegetables and sausages pasta.

The next morning at dawn the Loop, now with the addition of our photographer Dom, headed off to Alpha 2. A long drive took us to the other side of Sabah. Sadly, unforeseen circumstances prevented us from reaching them in time!

Only the main roads in Sabah appear on maps. Smaller, unsealed roads are numerous, new roads appear regularly and the muddy road network is always changing. The route we originally had was no longer valid, so we drove around for some time, trying various routes. We decided on a particular trail and managed to get stuck in the mud only a few meters on. And the worst part of all was that it was not even the right road – it was a dead end.

Stuck in the Mud at 17:35

Mac and Dom went up the hill to get assistance but we had to wait till the following morning. Luckily we found an abandoned hut next to the road and after a thorough risk assessment declared it safe for use.

The Loop team make the abandoned hut look cosy.

After a dinner of Pasta Alfredo and chicken frankfurters cooked on a trangia, everyone fell asleep. Early the following morning, Mac arranged a tractor to pull us out while Sophia and I trekked up a very steep hill to get mobile reception so we could inform Fieldbase of our precarious position.

Even more stuck in the morning due to a nearby stream..

..and still smiling.

A helping hand, but just not enough power by the 4x4 and 10 jumping local workers.

Mac taking a break after some muddy hand-digging.

The tractor arrived around 09:00 and pulled the Bravo free. What a sight! Thereafter we went to our initial starting point (again) and tried a route we’ve not tried before. At last this was the right one and we arrived at Alpha 2 just before lunch. The team were excited to get the mail and made a dent in the Loop shop stock. Unfortunately, there was no time to stay, and after checking that everyone was safe and sound and a quick dip in the river, we had to leave for Mapan Mapan (Alpha 1), with our communications officer Ed joining the Loop.

Staying firmly on track this time, we arrived at Alpha 1 before dark. There we had a quiet evening after a delicious beef curry, prepared by the team. Taking off early the next morning, we arrived at Fieldbase before lunchtime.

The loop team ready to be on their way to Alpha2, after 16hours in the mud.


Susan Fuller said...

Hi Rosie Hows my jungle baby love mum and dad

conor.stirk said...

I'm like totally confused on where to write stuff for my sister...

HI AMY... only the best brother in the world leaving a lil message... heard you eat meat again... no more "IS THAT MEAT... EUGH"... and also if you come home and start stropping again there will be issues...

but hope you are having a good time...

oh and i gave blood... just thought I'd throw that in there yano... lil update =)

anyways byee... this is conor by the way... and this is to Amy stirk by the way...

anyways bye