07/08/2008 at 5:33 pm #100790
If you have trekked with Kokoda Trekking and you fit into this age category, please post here as it would be very much appreciated so that other potential trekkers can read your honest comments.
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Kokoda Trekking Ltd (KTL)
Gail Thomas (Boss Meri)
Someone asked me last night what my pen name stands for. The answer: in pidgin Meri translates to 'woman' which makes me the 'Boss Woman'. Russell, my business partner is the 'Boss Man'13/08/2008 at 8:04 am #100789
My wife and I were 58 in 2006 when took on the track as part of Colac College led by former 2004 trekker Michael Barrand. It was a wet September/Oct. and I struggled with bad feet, mud, and basketball knees. My porter and I left the track at Efogi 1 which Gail organized to get me back to Moresby. My wife and the rest of the group of 12 continued on to finish at Owers' Corner where I met them. My failure to complete the track was not as a result of a lack of training as I spent a year getting prepared but rather a combination of unforeseeable events. I was so impressed with KTL's caring and attention to detail. My porter McKenzie did an outstanding job given the circumstances. We have had communication since the trek and along with a few of the other porters we have become involved in their lives through KTL. In 2008 we planned another return to the track to finish it. In June this year we were scheduled to go with Trek 417 in June led again by Michael Barrand. I had been preparing well until my left knee required an operation 6 months before we were to go..I did not recover in time. It was a huge disappointment. Again the track re-enforcing a lesson for me: learn how to handle disappointments..however there will always be 2010 and who knows? We can not speak highly enough of Russell, Gail, and the porters and guides of KTL. They have brought "new music" to our lives..thank you.
Trek_225_Mike_Ebeling.jpeg21/08/2008 at 5:05 am #100991
Trek 429 3rd-11th August 2008
I am a 55 year old female, soon turning 56. For me walking the Kokoda Track was the most fun I've had with my boots on. We were very lucky to have an entirely rain-free trek, which I have to assume made a big difference as our guide, John, said we were fast.
I trained for 18 months before my trek (in the beginning I couldn't walk up a hill), and expected difficult challenges every day. I was very pleasantly surprised that most of the trek was no harder than my usual Sunday outings with the local bushwalking club. There are only four ridges that stick in my memory as pretty testing, the worst being Imita Ridge where I thought I would probably die! However I didn't die, and felt great when I finally reached the top and was still breathing!
Our group would easily have completed the trek in seven days, however we pulled up at Goldie River on day seven at midday and had the afternoon off. That was great as we had a chance to do some washing and even catch a Nanny Nap. On the morning of day eight we just had a 30-40 minute climb up to Ower's Corner. Once we caught sight of the rising sun emblem on top of the archway, we three women broke into a sprint, followed by the men. We all ran up the rest of the hill and through the archway, so that proves the Track certainly didn't beat us.
I think the greatest complement I received was when a 29 year old trekker in our group told me I was doing really well, and "not doing it any tougher than anyone else".
I think age is irrelevant. If you are fit then you will really enjoy your trek. If you do not do the required training, then, like many we passed along the way, you may really struggle. The main thing is to walk up lots of hills, the bigger and steeper the better. In Rockhampton we have a steep track up Mt Archer used by trail bike riders, and this proved to be the perfect training ground. It is a two hour climb to the top, and similar to many climbs along the Track.
At the drop of a hat I would do the trek again. The KTL boys were wonderful and I believe they went above and beyond the call of duty. An example of this is that one of the food porters cleaned my gaiters for me – I didn't ask him to, and there is no way he had to do this. He is just a great guy.
So if you fit into the 55-64 age category, get out, get fit, and get trekking. You will love every minute of it (even the hard ones).
Trek_429.jpg24/08/2008 at 4:59 pm #101013
Dear Gail, Well back into the frantic working day! I wanted to thank you for all the extra little things you did for us and I am sorry I did not express this when we said goodbye at the airport, I think I was still in a bit of a spin (and had a heavy head!) You ran us around town and booked the dinner and so many things more than required that you made POM just that much better and trouble-free expecially for an inexperienced PNG visitor like me.
The trip was just wonderful and I am still feeling a sense of loss from being parted from the team. The PNG guys were so helpful and supportive and so much fun and we all seemed to get on so well together. I was impressed by their sense of community and sharing. Although the walk was a challenge it was also very enjoyable and I don't think Rich and I hit any walls although we were tired at the end of every day. In some ways it would be nice to do it again but then it may be a disappointment.
Photograph: Daniel Taylor, Sue & Richard Hancock
Daniel_Taylor__Sue___Richard_Hancock.jpeg11/09/2008 at 4:41 pm #101141
Just a note to say we arrived home last night after our "great adventure", not the least of which was the Kokada trek. Thourougly enjoyed every drop of sweat we left behind – and each screaming muscle. We begain missing the beauty the moment the plane was airborne.
We would like to thank Gail for her untiring efforts, the wonderful dinner surprise and of course the extra effort to get Walt and I to Blamey's "Rabitt" field. Billo rounded the Kokoda trip with a visit to the MacArther headquarters and office in Brisbane.
We left PNG in awe of those Australian and PNG gentlemen whos combined sacrifices, provide us with those freedoms we all enjoy today. They were truly the foundation of our "greatest generation".
Please pass on both Walt and my best regards to Chrisley, Johnny, Bobbie, Davidson and Lauren. Those gentlemen are awesome in all regards. We can assure you, whatever their pay, it is not nearly enough. They represented KTL well in their actions and deeds every step of the way and raised to the occasion repeatedly irregardless of how demanding, or naive, either Walt or my requests may have been. Each of them, in either of our opinions, is equalified to serve as guides. In addition, they worked extremely well as a team.
We cannot visualize a better one! One final point; We need to personally say thank you to Chrisley for turning on a dime and joining us as guide for the trek. Absolutely no one could have faulted him for not commencing this second trip over the Kokoda- immediately upon completing his prior trek at Goldie river – But he did, and his historical knowledge of events, locations, dates, both Japanesse and Australian, added immeasureably to our education. I sincerely hope you will pass along both Walt and my best regards and thanks to him.
On a closing note, the hospilitality of the Eroro families in opening their homes to us, the delicious food and everones friendlyness will long be a treasured memory.
Best regards to all and thanks for the memorable experience
Billo Comola & Walter Davis
Billo___Walt.jpg29/08/2009 at 10:38 pm #102839
I have just returned from trekking Kokoda. What a fantastic experience. Having turned 60 this year I was apprehensive as to how fit I needed to be. Well I took Dan Towler's advice and found it to be very informative and helpful and felt I coped fine. I can not stress enough to anyone contemplating this trek to follow what Dan has to say and you should have no problems. Thanks Dan. Through being fit enough it was good to actually enjoy every day rather than just to survive it. Kokoda Trekking was a very organised company which was a joy to deal with. I also recommend them to anyone. You can see that Gail is really trying to help the PNG people. Well, the porters – what can I say about them – we just loved everyone of them and if I ever went back again I would love to have all the same porters – I am sure though from what I have read they are all wonderful. The fuzzy wuzzy angel is still very much alive.
IMGP0236.jpg25/10/2009 at 6:47 pm #103443
Greetings, I walked the track in 2007(trek 354) as a 62 year old. Even though I was dissapointed with some aspects of the trek, I will always remember my time on the track,& would dearly love to walk it again.
I think it stays with you for life. The second days hike was beauty, we started from dump 66, climbed both Imita and Ioribaiwa ridges, to camp at Ofi creek. What a turkey of a day…I cramped for hours & had to stand in the creek for relief. Boy,was I worried about whether I could survive the Maguli range next day, but survive I did. An experience of a lifetime
Track_Pic_2.jpg28/10/2009 at 9:51 am #103456
Hi Gail! I really would like to thank you again for the VERY PROFESSIONAL arrangements on my Kokoda Trail trekking! And I am speaking from 45 years experience of demanding outdoor activities around the World. I will for sure recommend your company in my coming article!
The guides and porters were some of the absolute best I have ever experienced!22/11/2009 at 3:22 am #103632
Hi Kokoda Trekking,
Thank you very much for the 4 day fast walk, I enjoyed it very much.
Thanks to Trevor for getting us there in 4 days, and a special thanks to my mate Robert for all his assistance, and a good job done by all the other boys.
I would recommend your company to anyone.
IMGP1122.jpg22/09/2010 at 2:34 am #104975
Tom & I have just got back to Brisbane (21/9) after an amazing holiday. I have also read the Forum and now know what my family was seeing. Thank you so much everyone for your congratulations …. I wish you could have all come with me.
The Trek was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am still talking about all the little adventures, laughs and new experiences.
I particular thank Clive who was my personal porter, carrying my 15 Kgm pack. I followed him every step of the way with occasional assistance from Garni, one of the Food Porters. Where Clive stepped, so did I. He never left my safety to chance. He also makes everyone laugh.
Kingsley my Guide, made me feel very confident that he had everything under control. He always had Plan A, B and sometimes C which was necessary in such a rugged area, and when the weather can change quickly. The last night on the Track we stopped for afternoon tea – billy being boiled by Arnold, one of the Food Porters. While we were sitting there, down came the rain so Kingsley said we would sleep there.
It was fantastic to see Tom waiting for me at Ower's Corner. I was quite emotional. I wanted to ensure he could share my experiences so made sure I kept a detailed diary.
After completing the Trek, Tom & I flew up to the Goroka Show where almost 50 'Sing Sing' groups from the Highlands joined and did their performances. The colours of the head-dresses and other part of their traditional wear was a sight to be seen. It was a great finale following the Trek experience.
For anyone who is mildly thinking of walking the Track, I would highly recommend it…and use Kokoda Trekking as the company of choice.
IMGP2573__640x480_.JPG22/09/2010 at 5:39 am #104981
They had Kingsley on their team? Wow. What an honour
Love reading all these testimonials!
fluppy22/09/2010 at 6:34 am #104982
I'm right there with you Pam. This time 4 weeks ago I was on the track and I still can't shake it. The experience was simply amazing!
Garni was a porter on out trek too (personal) and I got to know the back of his feet pretty well by the end of it! He was great and I would request he be on our trek again when I do come back. We also had Arnold as a food porter and he too was great.
Glad you loved it every bit as much as I did.
I wrote about our trek in the trek 610 thread but I think I'll copy it into the relevant testimonial section to put it in the official spot. 🙂02/08/2011 at 6:48 am #105644
Well it has been a few years since my Trek and ever since you created this segment of your magnificent website, I've always wanted to provide a Testimonial for you, Russell, your Staff and your Company KTL – Kokoda Trekking Limited, but really wanted to do it justice and thought, I must compose something first and then go away and forget to do it.
So it is time to finally provide that Testimonial and tell people what a wonderful life changing event this is, but perhaps more importantly it was you Gail and the spirit of caring and thoughtfullness that you and Russell have generated within your Company, through your Office Staff, through your Guides and through your Porters, that enabled me to fulfill a life-long ambition to walk the famous Kokoda Track.
An ambition that perhaps started when my Father showed me and promised me his Medals from the Second World War. Dad lived in Moresby before "B4" the War and was a Member of ANGAU throughout WWII and whilst never actually on the Kokoda Track, spent a fair bit of time on the Bulldog Track, further to the West of Kokoda, something I didn't know until after his Funeral in Moresby in 1977, at the Ela Beach RSL, where he had been President and a Life Member, a number of locals approached me to discuss their time with Taubada Fred on the Bulldog. I wish I could have had more time to spend with them to talk about that time in their lives.
My early life always seemed to have been associated with the RSL Club, ANZAC Day and various other activities and this involvement was the catalyst for my Trek.
Since my early telephone call with you in 2004, I felt that you were going to be the best person to be involved with in making this pilgrimage. The planning, the recepton at Jackson's, the lead-up, the preparation and the organisation were superb Gail and I thank you for that.
Right from day 1, the professionalism and guidance from Justus, our Guide was excellent, we could not have asked for more and should I ever walk Kokoda again, I shall be asking for Justus to again Guide and look after us. His understanding and organisation of all the Personal and Food Porters was second to none. Thank you Justus for a wonderful 9 days.
Similarly to my young 20 year old Personal Porter, Maurice from Isurava, again I can't thank you enough for your help and assistance. Maurice anticipated my every need, not that I had many, but he was always there, I did slip once in a river where the water cascaded over rocks to a bit of a drop and his hand was on my shoulder in an instant. My Hydration Pack was slipped off and refilled every time we stopped for morning or afternoon tea. He was a wonderful asset.
Gail, many thanks for a wonderfully organised trip, it was a trip of a lifetime and yes, I am longing to come back again. I can only recommend for people to talk with Gail or her Sons, Nathan and Shane about taking the option of walking with KTL, as I know you will be well looked after and you will have a safe and enjoyable experience.
The other aspect of what Gail offers or has done is what Gail does for the people or the Oro Province, Gail & Russell of KTL have provided vehicles, mowers, accommodation and a myriad of assistance for these people, not withstanding the opportunities of getting work also.
Good luck for the future and I earnestly look forward to returning.02/08/2011 at 11:03 am #105645
I second your testimonial-it is certainly the experience of a lifetime and KTL were fantastic.
I just wanted to ask about your fathers time on the Bulldog track. My grandfather (Private George William Farrar)was with the 22nd employment company, who were stationed there, building the Wau-Bulldog road. I have an article that appeared in the MUFTI magazine that the RSL put out but that is all I know of what happened up there. Grandpa spoke of the war for the first time not long before he passed in 2009 but outside of that I have very little information.
Do you know any more about this part of the WW2 campaign?
Many thanks, Sally.08/08/2011 at 2:19 am #105661
Thank you for your comments on my Testimonial.
I did answer directly to you and gave you my work email, so we could continue with any discussions on the Bulldog Track.
I recently purchased a good book on the Bulldog and the Wau – Bulldog Road and how and when it was built. There is also another book on the Battle of Wau on ebay at the moment, which might be worth looking at.
I'll do some more research and let you know.
Gail has my contact details if you want to obtain those through her email.
My Daughter also is in Melbourne and has started training for our Trek next April.
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