Dwellingup to Mt Cook It seemed like a very short walk today to Chadoora. OK, it didn’t just seem like it, it was short at only about 13km from where I started at my friends place out of Dwellingup. Some would probably walk on and double hut as it’s only 15 km to the next hut but it’s Mt Wells and I don’t fancy the thought of finishing a 28km day with a climb up a mountain. If walking N2S it’s probably well worth a double hut as most of the walking is fairly flat and by this stage of things you’d have a light pack with no food and you’re probably getting desperate for a shower and some real food. So it’s 1.00, I’ve set up camp, had lunch and I’m just enjoying the serenity with the sound of black cockatoos squawking and cracking nuts.
The day started with me following roads not far from the rail way line. I kept checking my map app regularly as I didn’t see a waugal for over a kilometer. Ok I had come from a different spot off the trail and I was getting a little concerned yet the app showed that I should be right on the track. Soon I found that the trail came out of the forest and joined the road, it must have been following the road I was on just in the bush beside it. The day was sunny, quite warm in fact. The last weather report is had said rain for today, 15mm of it, I guess the report had changed since I’d last had reception because this was a beautiful spring sunny day.
I heard the Hotham Valley tourist train coming so rushed down through the bush to get close. As it approached I snapped a quick picture, then thought no, get a video, so I quickly switched my phone to video mode. Lovely, the train driver gave me a big wave and tooted the whistle, then the passengers on the open air carriages all gave me a wave as they passed by, what a great bit of video to capture.
If only I’d actually pressed record it would have been fantastic.
The day’s walk was easy following roads for much of the day as well as the old trail line through mainly jarrah marri forest interspersed with banksia, with the ever present black cockatoos along the way. This is the typical forest I’m used to seeing as a Perth local and I image that it’s mostly what I’m going to see for the next 10 days. Someone in the red book here listed 7 different notable hills and mountains between here and Kalamunda, I’m not looking forward to that aspect. Not much to see in the way of wild flowers today which was disappointing, hopefully tomorrow as I’m walking up the mountain this may change.
Sharing the Chadoora hut with a German couple tonight they are 12 days in and loving it so far. Now I’m looking back at the spread sheet with all the information about the huts and towns wondering if perhaps I should get a bus back to somewhere along the trail then walk back home. Originally I thought I’d catch the bus to Albany and walk back to Denmark from there, but that’s only 3 nights. Maybe I could get a bus to Pemberton, Northcliffe or Walpole and walk from there back. If I did Northcliffe back to William Bay that would be 2 weeks and some of the nicest countryside, back through some karri, then the swamps, dune country, beaches. Crazy talk, I should just finish first, I don’t even know if you can get a bus to Northcliffe.
Waugal eating tree
Waugal eating trees are fairly common out on the trail and I’ve seen all sorts of partly digested and even completely consumed waugals but I’m still wondering how this next one happened. Finish what’s in your mouth before you eat another one.
Sometimes waugals leave and they get replaced by new waugals.
Other times waugals just become a distant memory..
A waugal long gone
The walk to Mount Wells was another simple walk at only 15 km with most of it fairly flat through jarrah marri forest with a fair bit of banksia thrown in. The wildflowers aren’t in full bloom around the place yet, many are just teasing covered in bud and on their way.
I passed Dave again for the third time on this trip, he was only on his 5th day since leaving Kalamunda, that’s really moving. Then passed another hiker heading south and met one young guy at the hut at Mt Wells who was just leaving on a double hut. The day ends with a big long walk up Mt Wells almost 5km of long slow grind up a low gradient hill until you pop out into some sparse scraggly vegetation, there’s tough plants living on the top of the hill up here the ground seems like mostly rock, or rock under a thin cover of gravel in places.
There are things up here. A lookout tower you can climb half way up, a phone tower and associated buildings and then the hut which is the only one of it’s kind on the track, it’s a small building with 4 walls and concrete floor, a door and windows. Not a lot of sleeping space though, perhaps lucky I’m here by myself. One blatantly obvious thing here is the cold, it’s freezing the wind chill is horrendous.
Lovely little banksia
On the upside there’s phone reception. One of my jobs to do while I’m here is to check for group bookings on the Bibbulmun site now I’m up in this section close to Perth. Groups need to book before staying at camps and anyone can check online to see if they are clashing with groups. Seems I timed it well, a group of 12 is due here tomorrow and it looks like I’m going to skip groups all the way in to Kalamunda. This is assuming I stick to the schedule I scribbled down yesterday.
Strange little things
Sandals again today, might try shoes tomorrow for something different, haven’t worn then in over a week, in fact I can’t even remember when I last wore them. Still as I said to the young guy yesterday, think of how many millions of miles were marched by thousands of Roman soldiers in sandals. They took over much of the known world walking in sandals, ones nowhere near as comfortable as what I’m wearing.
Now we’re getting to the pointy end of things. I’m 3 days into this last stretch and trying to work out my supplies and how they are going to last. I’d figured that it would be 10 or perhaps 11 days for this 200 km section, I had picked up my 6 day supply drop at Dwellingup, and I’d had a few left overs of food, then grabbed a couple of things in Dwellingup though not a lot, just some 2 minute noodles and cup a soup. Plus one camp out of dwellingup I grabbed a Continental meal someone had left in the hiker box to add to my food bag.
The hut spacing towards the end here sucks with so many of them being around 15 km for me it means a short day, or the longest day that I’ve done on the whole trail if I double hut. So keeping my days at about 22 km our below is my goal as many of the days on this section are quite hilly. So 3 days in, I still have 9 days to go and that’s finishing on a 24 km day into kalamunda.. I’ve eaten most of my 3 days rations in the last 3 days so now I have 3 more full days rations, and the other oddments of food, perhaps 6 days in all, to stretch over the next 9 days. Hmmm..
Tomorrow I hit the roadhouse at North bannister and that may be my savior. Theoretically I can get there for lunch and then dinner, they are also open early for breakfast so I can get breakfast then take away food for lunch and dinner that day as well. There’s 2 days of supplies, with luck they’ll have some snacks as well peanuts and chocolate, boy I might just be able to stretch things. I may have been presumptuous when I phoned my friends last night and told them I don’t need a food drop but I’ll be right.
How foolish was I last night at Mt Wells streaming Netflix, my external battery clicked down to 3 of 4 bars last night, my phone is now at 26%, I’m going to have to turn it off every night and leave it in flight mode the whole time. Last long section the battery lasted 7 days and was almost dead now it’s already at 3/4 and I still have 9 days to go, might have to cut back on photos and video. Going to have to save the headlamp too in the evenings, I’d better cook dinner now while it’s still light. I’m right for gas still have a full large canister and half a small one. This is going to be an interesting end to my hike stretching food and battery life to their limits.
But today. What a lovely walk. Not much of a view from last night’s mt Wells but by the time I hit the next hill which seems unnamed, the view was astounding. Freezing cold up the top and blowing a bit but well worth taking a break up there to soak it in. Leading up to that hill the walking had all been pretty flat through open forest, I saw 4 different orchids along the day section though not a lot of other wild flowers. Going up the hill was another matter though, the hill was alive with yellow and white shrubs lining the trail and covering the hill side.
Gorgeous walk especially over the peak coming down through huge granite boulders with color everywhere. Met an American guy doing an end to and as I was coming through the boulders here, he was surprised at the lack of people on the trail.
Now sitting at White Horse Hills at 5 o’clock and it’s starting to get cold, going to be a very chilly one tonight I think. Ok time to turn the phone off and cook dinner while it’s light.
White horse hills
Now look at that delicious put of curried vegetables and noodles with cashew nuts and coconut milk, you wouldn’t think I’m rationing.
Hmm, coffee supply isn’t going to last, neither are my tea bags. Might have a cup of hot water tonight. I want to use the last bit of this gas bottle, it won’t work when it’s cold in the morning and it would be nice to dump it empty at the road house tomorrow rather than carry it all the way to Kalamunda.
Words and pictures can’t portray the smells from all the flowers wafting around. Often you may have your eyes on the ground watching where you are putting your feet, then a smell hits you and fills your nostrils, you have to stop lift your head and look around.
Dunny in the flowers
Good walk, a bit of a climb at boonering hill with some restricted views. There is a spur trail to get up and see the views from the top but I really couldn’t be bothered, I’d been to the top of a couple of big hills already and there were plenty more coming. Besides I was on a mission, a mission to get to food, the road House at North Bannister was calling me and now I’m sitting with a cold beer in front of me with burger chips on the way, life is good.
I’ve been looking at the selection here and I’m going to be able to get a nice lot of food to leave with tomorrow. Sandwiches, rolls, biscuits, slices, chips, nuts and chocolate, of course much of it is heavy but that’s all good it will be the stuff I eat first anyway. Also had my battery on charge here at the roadhouse though I didn’t get a full charge, I even had a third beer to give it more time to charge up. Oh well back for breakfast and I’ll charge some more then, though I read a comment in the red book about someone leaving their battery there charging over night, I should have read the book first. I have a chicken, bacon and salad roll for dinner though I still feel really stuffed after my burger.
Sandals again today, I don’t think I’ll be back in shoes again before the end of the trail at this rate.
There are a couple of packs of 2 minute noodles here, I’m going to grab them, they will help the cause. There’s also half a block of Lindt chocolate in the box, don’t know that I’ll eat that.
It was a really cold night last night, only the 4th time while on the track that I I’ve worn my jacket to bed, I woke many times during the night, damn it was cold, I rolled out of bed at one stage and put my long pants on over my thermals. That’s it I had all my clothes on, except for my hiking shorts and shirt and some dirty socks and then perhaps my raincoat.
Stock up on extra food
Feeling happy and a bit lazy after eating a big breakfast and a couple of coffees, now I’ve got a toasted sandwich, muffin, meat and salad roll, jerky, nuts and bars, as well as the extra noodles, looking good. I think my pack is perhaps heavier than when I left Dwellingup. Notice in the picture above on some of the low bits of wood in the hut there are small dark spots on them, evidently this hut can be full of ticks in spring/summer. There were reports in the red book about them, even a note written on one of the beds about someone getting 10 ticks while in the hut.
Walking to Nerang perhaps the laziest day for me yet, almost 10 and I’m still not on the trail, but I did walk 3km already to go eat breakfast. Ok, I’d better get moving. From now on I’m be writing out my daily journal on paper, old school, to ensure my battery power lasts the distance.
Nerang is a lovely hut by a small creek. The 16km walk from Gringer can be described in just a few words “mostly flat and mostly burnt.” Some more variety in the forest though with a few areas of wandoo forest. Interesting trees especially the old gnarled ones and the trees that have been burnt, they tend to drop their bark in little pieces leaving an interesting mottled appearance on the trunk.
A couple of wallabies have been hanging around the hut this afternoon, one with a little joey in her pouch, they don’t seem too worried about me being here. 4.30 and it’s starting to get cold already but I’m not going to light a fire tonight, just rug up and off to bed early. My sleeps have started getting better despite the cold, finally with only 6 nights left on the trail I’m starting to get some really good sleeps.
There’s only one thing worse than taking off the long warm thermals and putting the hiking shorts on when it’s a freezing cold morning. Washing out the porridge pot in the cold water so you can make another coffee. Brrrr..!
Right, 3 mountains in the next 2 days, Mt Cook today to start things off and it doesn’t look so bad on the elevation profiles, no worse than Boonering hill I climbed a couple of days ago before North Bannister. And what a day sun all the way. Things were flat and boring for most of the way, I think this is the only spot on the trail where the track actually goes through a tree.
Leading up to the mountain includes a section where you follow along under some large power lines. Keep you eyes open through here because I saw a few donkey orchids and some other lovely wildflowers in the regrowth under the lines. All a bit to glarey out in the open for photos though.
Heading up Mt Cook was a good stiff walk through forest before emerging onto the large section of cap rock. I’d read about this section as it’s easy to get lost here with only one marker over the whole rock section though I just followed what seemed logical and I managed to make it up to the summit. I would not want to do it in the wet going in either direction I imagine that it could be very slippery. There’s another trap here too, it was alright for me heading S2N I just have to keep going up the hill, but those heading south might find themselves standing on the cap rock looking down to the right and seeing a well defined walk track. I even saw 3 hikers with large packs walking along the west side of the caprock and wondered whether they were lost. No, it’s just another walk trail and I heard later that a few people have walked down this way by mistake. So as you head south coming over Mt Cook and the cap rock, turn left towards the east, don’t be tempted by the nice trail you can see over to the right (west).
It’s a long ridged summit and I love the walk along here through boulders and up narrow crevices, with all the wildflowers out at the moment it’s beautiful. The tough growing conditions up here make for a diverse range of plants. Ran into a father and son day hiking up here and also found a campfire right on the summit that was still burning and was littered with cans and other rubbish. Damn people.
Easy walk back down to the Mt Cook hut where I ate lunch and chatted with the father and son. I’d made good time getting here so spent quite a while hanging around the hut, lighting a fire setting up camp, things were well organized and I was cooking over the fire. Seems that it’s yet another night on my own here. It’s Saturday night and I’m near Perth in one of the more popular huts, I’d seen a few day walkers today but no one is staying at the hut.
This photo is a bit silly, and can be summed up with one letter. U
Get it? Morse code. Dot dot dash. Ohh, I know. To much time out here walking by myself.