Mt Cook to Kalamunda Getting close to the end now and I’m not too sure how I feel about that. Every morning I’m convinced that I’ll turn around and walk back another 1000km, while every evening while laying in bed with aching feet and legs I curse myself for having such foolish thoughts. We’ll just wait and see, finish the walk first. The walk from Mount Cook to Monadnock began quietly enough though within half an hour a guy came running down the trail towards me, I stepped to one side and he ran by with a quick “G’day”.
Wow, civilisation, trail runners. This was just the beginning, a little further on I passed a couple day walkers, then another couple, then getting closer to Sullivan rock a group of 4, a group of 3, a single hiker, so many people, by the end of the day I figured I’d passed well over 30 people out walking more walkers than I’d seen in the past month combined. I took my time walking today stopping for chats with other walkers along the way and enjoying the views hiking up Mt Vincent and Mt Cuthbert.
After climbing Mt Vincent it was a little disconcerting to look over at Mt Cuthbert knowing that you had to go down then up again, and then down again on the other side. So much up and down.
The trail here becomes a bit of a scramble in a few places, but never too hard. Once again the plants on the upper areas of these hills were fantastic, lots of variety in vegetation and a lot of flowers. walking into the Monadnock camp for the evening, I felt quite revitalized after a few long chats with people along the way. Except there was a group of day walkers in the hut stopped for a lunch break who spent the whole time while hey were there moaning and groaning about such useless everyday things, “no parking at the IGA”, “Prices just weren’t coming down” . I felt like saying “Oiiiiiii!!! get over it, take in the surroundings for a bit and enjoy where you are, whats the point of being out here if you’re just going to moan and groan about the same old day to day stuff.” Actually it was only one person really going on and on, the other 5 people sat listening or staring off into the bush with vague looks on their faces mostly.
Another couple of day walkers dropped in to the camp and we had quite a long chat, they were both very keen to give the whole track a go. Monadnock is a lovely campsite in the forest on the side of the hill, I lit a fire and cooked my dinner, still no one to share the camp with in the evening.
Slowly the idea of a yoyo is cementing in my mind. Walking all the way back down would be a a bit crazy and I keep swinging between yes and no. Usually this happens over the period of one day, in the morning when I’ve packed up and I’m walking off through the early mist with sun streaming through the trees I feel refreshed and invigorated and I’m convinced that when I get to the end I’ll take a couple of days off to stock up on food before turning around and walking back down again. Then in the evening as I sit in the cold night air feeling dirty and sore I curse myself for being stupid, once is more than enough. But by morning I’ve switched back and thinking about walking back down again, I’ve already made a list of food I’ll need, we’ll wait and see.
Onto Canning campsite and here comes the rain again. I arrived at the hut just before a downpour and although I’m considering myself lucky I know that there’s no escaping the rain over the next couple of days. Storms tomorrow, storms the day after, the following day is rain, then fine for my final walk out and completion of the trail. It was only 16kms today from Monadnock mainly flat or gentle hills or perhaps I’m getting fitter. Things are starting to blur a little, today is my 8th day since leaving Dwellingup.
Boy starting from the top end must really shock some people, so many mountains and such a long stretch without a town/shop/bed/shower. I was just reading about a couple heading south and this was their eighth day here, that means a 16 day stretch to dwellingup. The rest of the track must seem lovely with so many towns and so few mountains.
While sitting writing this a guy just walked in at a very brisk pace with only a day pack. He’s doing a supported sectional E2E walking 35-50km a day, but being dropped off and picked up each day. I tried not to mock him as he munched on a fresh pear then wolfed down some delicious looking raisin bread. He strode off at a crazy speed effortlessly swinging his tiny day pack over his shoulder. I forced a smile wishing him good luck while cursing under my breath at the fact that he gets to sleep in a real bed tonight and every night. How can that be an E2E when you carry almost nothing and at the end of every day you get to eat real food, shower and sleep in a real bed? Picking and choosing which bits you want to do on what day. He did mention that he almost decided once to sleep in the back of his car but realised he made the right decision later when he was back in his warm bed, clean with a full belly.
Me jealous? No… I feel sorry for him, he’s missing the real experience. I’d better go blow up my air mattress and put on my noodles for dinner. Yeah, I’m living the life, that poor bugger is missing out.
I’d been looking forward to seeing some nice big jarrah trees here, there was a note on the maps showing the trail went through a section of “virgin Jarrah forest” yet when I arrived things didn’t look so virginal with many old sawn off stumps. I had passed some magnificent big trees earlier today, but this section wasn’t particularly nice.
My first double hut today, that will be strange fancy walking past a perfectly good hut. Passing by Brookton to camp at Mt Dale, a 19km day without too much in the way of big hills. It’s going to be wet though, there was rainfall off and on last night with some heavy falls and there are some big puddles around this morning yet today and tomorrow the forecast is for heavier rain and storms. My sleeps are getting better lately though, I sleep fairly solidly waking briefly during the night but falling straight back to sleep. also I’ve managed to solve the problem of sore shoulders by increasing the height of my pillow, sticking my tent fly (in it’s bag) under my little inflatable pillow, holding them together by sliding a buff over them makes for a crazy looking tiny yet tall pillow.
Getting to Mount dale I can sum up the day in 3 words, wet, wet and wet. The weather report was updated to storms and 40mm of rain with possible hail. The day started well with just a bit of drizzle in the morning, nothing too heavy. Then it started to bucket down just as I was arriving at Brookton camp site, it was perfect timing to arrive at this fairly new poured earth hut and for the first time on the hike I pulled out the stove to cook a hot lunch, I might as well stay in the shelter till the rain eases. It was only just after 11.00 and I’d left at 7.30. The terrain had been easy, undulating, nothing too steep and then of course the sun came out briefly after I arrived at Brookton.
Now I can’t really be certain what the countryside was like for the afternoon, my head was mostly buried under the brolly and I was staring down at my feet sloshing through puddles and roads that had become rivers.
At one point I found tadpoles swimming up the wheel rut of a road, no idea where they came from, I guess they must have washed out of a pond somewhere and now they were travelling up the road. I arrived at Mount Dale just after 2.00, an easy walk to here with nothing very taxing. Now the rain has really set in, not showers but constant rain on the radar so I certainly won’t be lighting a fire here. Mount Dale is lovely, tucked into the base of the mountain in a grove of beautiful grass trees there’s phone reception a nice view of the mountain and it’s dry under cover, but the rain’s just not letting up. I wonder if I’ll see someone tonight I haven’t seen a soul all day. The trip to the toilet of perhaps 30m is pretty much one long continuous water hazard.
A nice warming pot of tuna, veggies and noodles for dinner. I have been a little annoyed with my sea to summit plastic spoon, it’s been fine to use, I cut it down to fit inside my pot when packed away and it’s just the right size, but the sea to summit label embossed in the front tends to trap food and it can be hard to clean muck out of it.
After all the hills today I had mixed feelings when I arrived at Ball creek, very glad to be at camp after a strenuous day, but this was going to be my last night on the trail, it was almost over. I’d made reasonable time getting here so I set about collecting some fire wood and lit a fire. Fiddling around setting up camp, stoking the fire it was starting to get dark and I figured I’d be here by myself again till an older guy came huffing and puffing down the track. We chatted for a while, he told me that he had walked from the start at Kalamunda. Sweat was dripping off him as he gingerly dropped his pack and sat down. He then told me he was going to triple hut tomorrow and planned to be in North Bannister in 4 days. So what had just taken me 7 days to hike while I’m nice and fit having hiked over 900 km, he was going to do in 4 days right at the start of his journey? I tried to explain that it was perhaps a little optimistic expecting to walk that far in 4 days to which he said “but I have to, I only have 4 days food, and I’ve worked it out, it’s not that far.” He really had no concept of the terrain, the hills coming up in the next few days take a fair bit of work.
He struggled to stand up unaided from the bench seat saying that he was going to set up his tent, he rolled out the tent, got out his hammer and nails and begin banging nails into the hut. “You brought a hammer and nails with you on the hike?” “Yes, but it’s not a very big hammer, and I’m only banging nails into gaps” The air mattress took ages to blow up between wheezy breaths, then he fished out his Ipad and went through his itinerary insisting he definitely could make a triple hut tomorrow. “You have an Ipad with you too?” “Yes, I like to read at night, I’ll charge it up in towns along the way.” Hmmm, looking at his sagging tent set up on the bottom bunk strung up with string and nails I mentioned that he might want to open the vents to get some ventilation as condensation can be bad on cold nights, he humpfed as he crawled into his tent, he was taking none of my advice. I sat down to write these events on my phone/diary as I watched the glow of his Ipad through the thin tent material, then about half an hour later I could hear snoring. An hour later he was still snoring and the glow of the Ipad could still be seen, the battery won’t last long at that rate.
I was up early, had a coffee, cooked breakfast (tuna and savoury rice was all I had left), had another coffee and packed my gear. I was almost completely packed when I heard some moaning and rustling around, then some more moaning and groaning and Uuurring before a head poked out of the tent. “Morning, hows things?” “Wet! Everything is soaking wet in here.” The situation was ripe for an “I told you so.” but I held my tongue. A few more minutes packing and I said, right I’m off, good luck. “But aren’t you having any coffee or breakfast.” He insisted that he was in no rush and had plenty of time. So off I went, my last day.
The walk began reasonably flat for the first few kilometres which left me wondering why he had been so sweaty and exhausted coming into camp last night, still, off through the discovery centre and around some well used walk trails before arriving at the Mundaring hotel, from here things started to get a bit hilly, and about here I had my first loss of trail in the whole walk.
This is the point, there’s a waugul on the tree pointing right, I’d just walked past the hotel and the track I was on continued down off to the right of this picture. At the bottom of the hill I had a feeling something wasn’t quite right so headed back up to find that you’re meant to step over the first pipe and go down between the two pipes on a narrow trail.
Lots of up and down on this final day and also a fair bit of walking through built up areas and well used roads and trails. I also managed to lose the trail for a second time. Funny, while hiking I’d often thought about the fact that I hadn’t got lost once in the whole trail and hadn’t fallen over once either, oh no, don’t even think about it.
The last section coming into Kalamunda was magnificent, flower were in full bloom and everything was green and lush, then through some park like areas and a few streets and before you know it.
Though you need to walk a few hundred metres down to the visitor centre so you can ring the bell.