Kokoda Tribute

Personal safety and care on the Track

The following information is supplied to assist you in your preparation for walking the Kokoda Track. Good hydration practices and monitoring the condition of your feet and any aches and pains are an essential part of your training and now is the time to form good habits for PNG.

Walking the Kokoda Track is an extremely satisfying experience, but also a difficult and potentially dangerous one.

Every effort will be made by your trek leader and carriers to ensure you enjoy it to the best of your ability.

It is of the utmost importance that you are well prepared physically and mentally for the journey ahead.

You walk the track as much with your head as you do with your legs.

It is vital that you recognise signs of fatigue, loss of concentration or dehydration to prevent a problem that can be dealt with turning into one that could end your trek prematurely.

We shall walk as a group to ensure that above all we are looking out for each other to stop problems occurring.

CONCENTRATION

The nature of the terrain on the majority of the track requires you to watch your step all of the time.

Fatigue or a wandering mind can effect your judgement.

It is your responsibility to walk carefully and within your limits. It is not a race. You will never walk alone.

CARRIERS

The Papuan carriers who assist us on the track are in the same mould as their forefathers.

They take great pride in their occupation and care of their trekker.

They may not talk to you very much but they will be watching you.

They will regularly offer you their hand in help, hold on to your arm or pack to assist in guiding you over roots and rocks, river crossings and logs.

Please accept their offer of assistance gratefully.

You will be very surprised by their ability to navigate the terrain compared to us.

Most people I speak to on completion of their trek say they couldn’t have done it without them.

Enjoy their company and treat them with respect.

WATER

Proper hydration is one of the essential requirements when trekking under the conditions you will experience in Papua New Guinea.

Water is plentiful on most parts of the track.

Treatment of your drinking water is required at all times.

Water treatment tablets that are available at chemists and camping stores are required.

You will need to purchase these in Australia prior to departure and bring enough to treat up to eight litres of water per day for two weeks.

Bottled water is not available on the track.

Your carrier and trek leader will advise you on where to fill your drink bottles and camel back.

Not all of the streams and rivers are advisable to use for drinking water. Always ensure that you have a one litre of bottle treated water available while you are waiting for your replenished water supply to undergo treatment.

Most tablets generally require half an hour to treat the water before it is drinkable.

Please check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

It is of great importance that you monitor you water intake.

You will be loosing fluids from your body at a much greater rate than what you are accustomed to.

A person exercising in the heat can readily lose one litre of water per hour.

Drinking small volumes of water regularly will maintain hydration and will reduce the risks of nausea or stomach upsets.

HEAT CRAMPS

Heat cramps can occur after heavy sweating in a hot environment when the body loses more fluid through sweating than it can replace.

Signs and symptoms are pale, clammy skin, cramping pains in the affected area and nausea.

If this occurs, stop, tell your trek leader and rest. Gently stretching and gradual fluid intake will aid in recovery.

HEAT EXHAUSTION

This occurs with the signs and symptoms of dehydration.

It is vitally important to maintain your fluid intake.

Do not wait until you feel thirsty. Drink small amounts regularly at all times.

Monitor your toilet stops and ensure normal fluid transfer through your body is being maintained and the colour of your urine is not unusual.

You must take extreme care in this area to look after yourself and a simple question to a fellow trekker about their fluid intake can be of assistance to them.

We must look out for each other.

Signs and symptoms are pale, cold clammy skin, a rapid and weak pulse, rapid breathing, profuse and prolonged sweating, thirst, nausea, vomiting, a constant headache and cramps.

If you feel yourself or observe another member experiencing any of these signs or symptoms tell your trek leader immediately.

The group will be required to stop and we must treat and wait with the affected person until recovery is complete and they have fully rested. Generally they will need a full nights rest.

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which has a 70 per cent mortality rate. This statistic is not meant to alarm you. It is to illustrate how vital it is that we look after ourselves and each other, to prevent this happening.

Fluid intake does not stop when we cease walking. It must continue during our rest periods and morning and night. When resting sit in the shade, cool yourself with a wet sweat rag and rest properly when required.

HYGIENE

Maintaining good personal hygiene is essential even under difficult circumstances.

After toilet stops or using “facilities” in the camps and villages, wash your hands immediately or use your anti bacterial gel.

Clean your eating utensils before and after meals. Wash thoroughly and wash clothes when ever practical, especially socks, boots and undergarments.

FOOT CARE

In Papua New Guinea you must be diligent in the care of your feet.

You need to maintain them in good condition all the way to Kokoda. Check your feet everyday.

I recommend you apply Bepanthen Cream to your feet prior to putting your boots on to help in preventing foot problems occurring.

Wash them thoroughly at the end of the day. Dry them thoroughly and I recommend you apply an anti fungal powder.

Bepanthen, Dettol and Bettadine can be helpful if an antiseptic is required.

It is suggested that you apply an antiseptic to your feet prior to going to sleep.

Do not walk around in bare feet but letting your feet breathe when possible will help them recover.

You must look after your feet.

CUTS AND ABRASIONS

If you experience any cuts or abrasions on the track treat them immediately.

Do not leave them unattended and monitor the healing process.

Your honesty and accuracy concerning your wellbeing is of the highest importance not only to yourself, but to the whole group.

Please inform your trek leader of anything even if you feel it is trivial.

Let’s make the journey enjoyable for everyone.

Please email Marty on completion of reading this document to confirm that you have read and understood this document.