The Kokoda Trail - Kev Toonen - 98 Gym
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Kev Toonen

The Kokoda Trail – Kev Toonen

Chris, Matt and I jumped onto a flight from Sydney on the Saturday morning…after I cleared the security check (forgot to take a knife out of my carry on…). Once in Brisbane we headed straight into Project 180 to run a FYF for the members and staff, a tough session followed by a well earned steak and beers at the Breaky Creek Hotel…carb loading for our trek.  That night we watched the Crusaders (Super Rugby) win another Final and also Owen Franks last game for the team after almost 12 years. 

Sunday morning we flew into Port Moresby, headed to our hotel where were Glenn and the team briefed us on the walk and issued us all the gear we needed. The rest of the day we packed, repacked until we were happy with the state of our packs. After a team dinner we headed back to rooms to sleep as we had a 0330 wake up before we left for the airport at 0400, as we needed to fly into a smaller airport and take a 3 hour truck ride to the start of the trail. 

We stepped off a bit before lunch with only a 3.5 hour walk ahead of us…turns out the last 40 mins was straight up and by the time we got into our first night location most of us were on shaky legs and short of breath.  However the view was well worth the work, and this was the case for the rest of the trip. 

Day 2 of the walk is always interesting as it’s the first full day of walking and depending on how you slept or didn’t will effect everyone in different ways.  We walked and rested depending on the terrain but overall it was just on 10 hours later we walked into our next night spot. After sorting our tents we (Dave confirming with his local guide the best way to enter his tent) had the chance to wash and relax in the stream.  It was cold and a great way to recover after the long day. This was also the first day we noticed one of the team had interesting taste in swimwear…

The other 4 days of the trip were more of the same, 10 hour hiking days with plenty of accents, descents, river crossings, tiny village communities, Twisties and cans of Coke. Each day ending up at the side of the river somewhere for a wash, a Pasta ‘n’ Sauce, a few tales and a night in a tent.

Since we have got back plenty of people have asked how the trip was, and to be honest its very hard to explain, as I don’t think writing about it tells it how it was. The experience left a massive impact on me, as it has done before. The culture of the people and in particular our local guides was for me what stood out the most. They laugh, smile, work hard, think of everyone else first before themselves, give without any expectation and looked after us like we were family. The one day that stands out for me the most is when we had a ceremony on top of Brigade Hill.  After 4 days of walking and after 4 hours of climbing we reached the spot where some of the fiercest fighting of the campaign took place. There we were reminded of such words as mateship, courage, endurance and sacrifice. A very moving ceremony, one which will stay with us all for a very long time. 

The trip allowed/demanded all of us to work hard, think, reflect and suffer. I can honestly say I have not laughed so much in years, the jungle and the environment quickly stripped away any veil of bullshit that we carry with us day to day. The simplicity of our day was amazing, walk, rest, eat and sleep…repeat. In total we covered 121km, averaging about 27km per day. 

Our next 6 day Kokoda Trip with Adventure Professionals will be 12th – 19th July 2020 – Don’t second guess yourself – Register interest now with [email protected]