The reflections of Casey Mauger of ASL
It hasn’t been called a compelling personal pilgrimage or a life changing experience for nothing. The Kokoda Trail has a way of inspiring not only the people that take it but also others hearing about it. This month, we bring to you the personal experiences of Team ASL, ardent supporters of CUFA, on their intrepid journey in the wilderness of
The Kokoda Trail has a way of inspiring not only the people that take it but also others hearing about it. This month, we bring to you the personal experiences of Team ASL, ardent supporters of CUFA, on their intrepid journey in the wilderness of Papua New Guinea.
Walking the Kokoda Trail was on ASL CEO David Jay‘s bucket list. But he went on to do something that very few do, he dedicated this challenging trek to raise money for charity. David’s campaign, aptly titled “Walk With Me”, aimed to raise $150,000.
Below is the account of David’s personal assistant, Casey Mauger, who completed the trip as part of Team ASL.
“Almost all the people who have taken this trek describe it as a life-changing experience “
On 5 September 2016, the Australian Settlements team headed off the Papua New Guinea to start our 140 km Kokoda Trail walk for ASL’s charity partners including CUFA. We flew to Port Moresby and after a day of getting used to the PNG humidity and climate, packing our bags with an excitement of what lay ahead, we started our adventure of a lifetime.
I can personally say that the journey after that was the most rewarding, yet difficult experience of my life to-date. It tested our determination and endurance levels like nothing ever had before.
The first day of walking was the easiest. After two hours of downhill hikes and river crossings, we arrived into camp with positive thoughts of “We can do this”. Dinner was served at 6 pm with a lovely two-course meal of powdered chicken noodle soup followed by tinned beef and veg for dinner mixed with some pasta. We sat wondering what’s for dessert to only be told we should head off to bed at 7.30 pm for our early wake up the next day.
Day 3 started at 4am to the sound of the last post and John Williamson’s True Blue playing outside our tent. At breakfast, we were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with no clue that the day would consist of 12 hours of walking up steep hills, extremely steep downhills, lots of rain, extreme heat and from myself lots of tears!
The next five days were the hardest times of my life, not only was Kokoda physically exhausting, it was mentally exhausting too. There was no internet connection, no contact with the outside world, but the determination and mental strength to succeed and complete the trek grew each day. All I can say is I cried, I laughed and at the end, it was all worth it. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to fight under such conditions. The wartime memorials were incredibly moving.
Each day I woke up thinking “I can’t do this anymore” and “what excuse can I use today to get myself on that helicopter for evacuation”, but then again each day I could do it and I did do it.
On the way, we met some of the most beautiful and welcoming villagers who survived without electricity and basic comforts. We also got a chance to distribute books/toys/clothes and lots more to the kids in the village school, as a part of our charity help. On 13th September 2016 at around 7.30 am all of us at the ASL Group crossed the line of the Kokoda Trail after eight long days of walking, camping and self-discovery. I now know so much more about myself and the rest of the group and feel happy to have made lifelong memories and friends.
Sitting here now and thinking about Kokoda I feel so proud of myself for finishing it. This is my biggest accomplishment that I’m sure I will remember it for a lifetime.
Also read: How the Kokoda Trek Inspired a CEO to Walk for Others.