I walked west for a while, looking for a path that would take me through one large rock formation in search of another. Green and gold vegetation highlighted the deep red of the land, and the incredibly blue sky made a vivid backdrop for the rugged landscape. Before too long, I found the wall of rock roughly sketched on the map, and I walked along it, in search of the narrow passage that cut through to the other side.
The passage opened out into a landscape that was essentially the same as what I’d left behind, but which was even quieter and more peaceful. I wandered happily for a couple of hours, enjoying the beauty of the place. However, my bad knee began to act up a little, so I thought it would be wise to head back before it began giving me any trouble.
When I once again reached the great ridge of rock through which I’d passed, I found myself faced with a rather daunting sight. While the front of the rock wall had offered one entrance, the back of it offered dozens of possibilities. Obviously, all but one of these must be dead ends, for the front to offer such a closed face. But which chasm would take me through to the other side?
Following footprints might seem like an obvious solution, but the soft soil here takes footprints and holds them until the next wind or rainstorm, which can be a long time in coming. As a result, there were numerous footprints from hikers over weeks and maybe months, clearly all faced with the same dilemma, as they went in every direction. I hoped that if I walked along the backside of the rock, I would be able to see daylight on the far end of one of the many channels. I was not panicked, by any means, as I still had half a canteen full of water, and having signed out at Ross River, I knew I’d be missed–and that they knew my direction. Still, I didn’t fancy having to be rescued, so I hoped I’d be able to make my way back on my own.
Most of the deep, narrow channels were in shadow, so I didn’t know if it was possible to see through to the other side. They all looked dark and unpromising. Then, on the ground before me, I saw a familiar word printed in the red dust. I had bought new shoes for this trip, a brand I hadn’t worn before, but it appeared now that they would save me. There, amid the many nondescript tread prints was the word Reebok. I looked at the bottom of my shoe, to confirm that it matched, and then, laughing, turned to follow the word back through the correct channel.