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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2016
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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Old Red

day fades
the sun is setting
I’m sorting gear
packing a rucksack
going on a journey

It broke my back and gave me a permanent stoop, but I was so proud of my first rucksack, a genuine ‘Bergen’. Did it cost me my first month’s wages? It was the archetypal rucksack of its day, which I think was the forties and fifties. Then the better ‘H-framed’ packs came in, in the sixties.

Packs were heaviest on the first day of the walk, and got lighter as we ate the food and got fitter. So by the end of the walk they were (almost) a pleasure to carry. I remember the Kiwi trampers saying: “Take it easy on the first day, and on the second day slacken off!” Why did I need a rest day on the third?

snow breeze
and the smell of zinc cream . . .
plodding
through sunlit tussockv
and the high plains stretching

My old red ‘Berghaus’ is 1980s vintage. At that time, I was busy with work and family. Could only snatch an occasional mountain day. Or night. These stolen adventures were so precious that I wrote names of the magical places under the flap. Ormiston Gorge. Wilpena Pound. Katjatjuta. Budawang Range. Mt Kosciusko.

snow gums
and flowering heath
stars underfoot
drifting clouds and blue sky
the wind blows through me

The fabric is rotting now, and sometimes I feel that I should upgrade to a modern ergonomic pack—an ‘Osprey’ perhaps. But I keep putting it off, reluctant to step into an outdoor gear shop. Does my subconscious mind know that the next pack will probably see me out?

walking
slowly up the ridge
breathing hard
and wondering—
how long can I go for?

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