Trekkers tackle forgotten trail

(Original article posted July 25, 2018 via thenational.com.pg, © 2018)

AMERICAN author James Campbell and his 15-year-old daughter are among a group of eight expatriate trekkers who set out Monday to tackle the gruelling Ghost Mountain Trail between Gabagaba, in Central, and Buna, in Northern.

The 17-day trek will cover more than 200km through some of the most rugged terrains in the country, and is sometimes referred to by Kokoda Trail veterans as “Kokoda on steroids”.

Campbell is the author of Ghost Mountain Boys, which tells the story of this little-known trail which was used by American troops during World War II, and which he walked in 2006.

He told The National before leaving for Gabagaba yesterday that the trekkers were from America and Australia.

“I think everybody’s really excited to do it,” Campbell said.

“It’s been my dream, ever since I did it in 2006, to do it again,” he said.

“Now I will be accompanied by my wonderful daughter and seven other great people.”

Julie Ardoin, from New Orleans in Louisiana, is walking the Ghost Mountain with her husband Joe Deutsch.

“We’ve had this great opportunity to join this trek,” she said.

“Papua New Guinea has been on my bucket list since I was four years old. I’ve wanted to come here ever since.

“I thought, what a wonderful opportunity for total immersion into the culture of the country.”

Trek leader Australian Peter Gamgee, of Getaway Trekking, has already taken four treks along the Ghost Mountain Trail over the past 10 years.

He said this particular trek was very important, given the historical significance of the trail and ambition of supporting the rural communities along the way.

“This will be a unique group that will go through the trek,” Gamgee said.

“We’ve got people from all different walks of life in it.

“One particular part of it, that is super special, is that we have great US representation because this track is actually a forgotten track in the US military history.

“Through the awareness that’s raised of it, it can be remembered a bit more, as Donna (Wilson) has remembered it through her grandfather (one of the original US Ghost Mountain trekkers of World War II).

“I think it will be more than successful.

The walk is often referred to by some Kokoda veterans as ‘Kokoda on steroids’, but to me, it’s just another walk in paradise.”

Tourism Promotion Authority representative Nathan Lati will accompany the group.