Mount Chance to Northcliffe. This picture looks like a nice stream or river right? Wrong, it’s the track, and that pretty much sums up this section of the track through the plains. Still, the hardest part of the day starts early before leaving camp. That moment when you have to get out of beautiful warm woolen top, long pants and 2 pairs of toasty warm socks, to put on a cold damp shirt, wet shorts and wet socks. You leave it till the last possible moment the tent is packed, food packed, kitchen packed, can’t pack any more till I get the warm dry clothes off and packed away.
More of the slippery black swamp mud today, reasonable day though, 19.5km that I hiked in my sandals. The first half of the day was the same sort of swamps that I’ve been experiencing over previous days, interspersed with some hills of mainly jarrah forests.
Some areas were pretty thick and overgrown and there were also some long wet sections through the swamp, mostly these were an inch to ankle deep with a couple of sections up to shin deep. Then about half way through the day the trail became a walk down a car track, then turn down another quite wide track and keep following this until you reach dog pool camp.
Wow what a camp site. I pulled in here and there were 2 called already Phil and Melvyn, Phil is doing an end to end while Melvyn joined him in Pemberton. They had a rest day here at the hut after a long 26km previous day in the rain. I understood their pain after being out in the rain myself yesterday but my day has only been 22 while theirs was 26.
And hey what a hut to have a rest day at, I could think of worse places to be. In fact I think this might be close to my favourite hut so far possibly and my first rammed/poured earth one.
The river is beautiful and you can have fires, the first hut I’ve been to where fires are allowed, yay, from here on it’s fire country.
Check out the toilet Hooley Dooley, that’s the flashest toilet i’ve seen yet at any hut. It’s a full size disabled toilet made from poured earth with a verandah. Built to suit wheelchairs which is strange for a few reasons, firstly it’s a 2 day hike along some tough off-road tracks from the closest town, so tricky for a wheelchair to get in here. Then secondly, there are steps leading up to the toilet.
Sitting here typing this I’m watching the coals in the fire glowing while listening to the water in the river. Yeah I think I’d plan a rest day here rather than in a town, 3rd day in from Northcliffe if you are coming south, would be easy to bring an extra days food this far.
7 o’clock in the evening and I’m the last one still up, welcome to trail life. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow with a 26km day and the forecast is for more rain, today there was only one light shower the whole day, the sun was out a few times and it was quite pleasant.
I had to take my socks off for about the last 8km as my little toe was starting to hurt. I don’t think it’s good for socks to be in sandals with mud around, I’m not sure these socks will ever recover from the ingrained dirt and sand. I wonder if my feet will recover, they look disgusting. And to think that I just put my bed socks on over them and that will have to do. My whole body feels pretty disgusting. This is my 5th day without a shower or decent wash of any kind. I had a squirty bottle 1 litre of water wash at long point then yesterday used wet wipes for pits, face and groin along with a little wipe of antibacterial cream in the groin area to stop things getting too manky.
Days of walking, sweating, being wet then wrapped up at night isn’t great. Ah which reminds me I haven’t washed or wiped myself in any way today. I hit camp and ate. First a cup a soup with Deb, followed shortly after by eggs, ham, tomato and Deb, then a museli bar. I didn’t eat my proper dinner which was meant to be curried noodles and veg. Perhaps I’ll have it in the morning before my big walk. Didn’t eat dinner and didn’t wash yet I’m already in my bed clothes and everyone is already in bed, it’s too cold now to think about washing any bits. Maybe my face before bed wet wipes are in front of me. Hmm, 2 more nights of stink and then on the third night I get a shower, yay.
I’m a shower every day person normally sometimes twice a day when I can, I wondered how on Earth I was going to do this without regular washing. I can’t stand getting into a bed without showering normally, I feel all sticky. Yet here I am about to crawl into bed unwashed for 5 days. And not just any 5 days, 5 days of sweat and dirt, 5 days slogging through bush through swamps tramping through mud. My feet filled with ingrained dirt from traipsing in sandals. How can I do it? Firstly I don’t have much of a choice really. I guess I could jump in the river but it’s damn cold. Secondly, wool. I’ve been amazed by both my woolen t shirt I often wear during the day and my woolen thermal camp/bed clothes. I don’t really feel sticky in them and they seem to have an amazing ability to just not smell and remain fairly fresh despite the abuse. And I guess perhaps thirdly, your just so buggered at the end of the day you don’t care as much and don’t notice. I mean hey, it’s 7.30 and I can hear both the others snoring and I can’t stop yawning. I might go wipe my face clean my teeth and hit the sack, bigger walk day tomorrow through more water and more rain. On the up side my pack is getting lighter only 2 nights food in my pack tomorrow.
I left camp at 7.30 though it was hard, this is the sort of place you really don’t want to leave, but I had a long day in front of me at almost 26km. Just as I walked out it started to pour so I stepped back in the hut and waited 15 minutes or so. The shower stopped and I started off up the road. The first 6 or 8kms were rather unexciting just walking along a dirt road. Then off the dirt onto a slightly smaller road through some minor swamps bits. The trail today was pretty much all on dirt roads or trails not like most of the previous walking I’d done on smaller single windey trails. Of course the common factor for much of the walk was wetness.
The last half of the day was through mainly karri forest. None of the walking was hard as such, there wasnt much in the way of hills. Just a long hike along dirt roads with the odd dip your feet in a puddle of water along the way. I walked for 6.5 hours with just the odd stop for photos so I averaged just over 4 km an hour. Not too bad. There were only a couple of light showers while I walked though in the first 5km I’d had a few heavier showers and the Brolly came in handy here.
Oh the irony of so many puddles to walk through then a boardwalk over dry ground.
Arrived at lake Maringup hut and there was a kiwi girl Saxony here she’s doing a North to south end to end. Standard camp arrival, talk, drop pack, organise food, talk, eat, talk, eat some more, set up camp, talk, eat.
Nice hut here right near the lake and yes a fire again with a good load of firewood ready to be split. I’d managed to pick up some more fire starters from the last few Hiker’s who weren’t going to need them anymore. Not really a lot to add here after a long day I should think about bed soon. A little concerned about how the battery supply is going for me, while charging my phone I saw the battery click down to 1led hopefully that means there’s about 25% left. A few minutes later my headlamp died. Charge the headlamp, I need that to get around in the dark, it’s essential. Apart from that I need 2 more days and one night tomorrow. I think I should be right on the money with the battery lasting me a week away from power with some reasonable comforts. I’ve tried to turn the phone off at night for a few nights and leaving it in flight mode some days. But I’ve also watched quite a few movies over the week as well as streaming Netflix when I’ve had reception.
Fairly simple day today 17 km into Gardener hut. They have been doing a lot of work along the track in this section, mainly where there are drains and little streams crossing the track and they have installed pipes for the water flow. Today was all along larger tracks too, all vehicle tracks, it seems that this might be what I can expect to a greater degree perhaps. No evidently not I’ve just been told.
One very noticable thing walking this section today was the pig damage, there was a lot for large sections of the track. Disappointing for someone like me as I’m constantly looking at the verges of the track for orchids and fungi, but along here the tracks are ripped up all the way.
Now when the Saxony came through here yesterday she told me that she hasn’t got her feet wet once, yet here I was confronted by a huge pool of water with no way around it. On closer inspection I can see her footprints coming out of the water so I guess that this has formed overnight to a large extent. My day of no sandals ended, shoes off, sandals on, the puddle was almost knee deep. And very long. Fairly gentle rolling countryside today, and spent quite a while following the Gardener river which was flowing well.
Naaa just joking, it’s another puddle, not the river. Now I’m really stretching the food out to use every last bit. I arrived in camp around 2 and had a lunch of cup a soup, a serve of mixed veggies and just enough Deb to make it a bit thick and gluggy. today’s dinner was meant to be mushroom cous cous with bacon and vegetables but I have a left over pack of curry/coconut milk/cashews from a previous meal I changed around. So I’ll get two meals tonight, just now I’m eating curried mixed vegetables with cashews, next will be mushroom cous cous with bacon bits. Yeah, I’ve used everything. Tomorrow I have porridge then two muesli bars. My two cups of coffee in the morning and that’s it. No food. Maybe 1 tea bag left as I head into town. No I’m having the last cup of tea now. I’ll be walking into town with nothing.
I’m liking the fire aspect of these camps now, but I’m sure it will wear off sooner or later. Not impressed with the idiots who left all their rubbish in the fire place, and I know that at least some of it was a hiker from a couple of days ago because Matt recognizes some of the special medical sachets as his.
That’s just gross, I have to push their rubbish to one side while trying to light my fire with their plastics and medical packaging starting to burn while I’m tending the small fire trying to get it going in wet conditions. Really appalled that people just leave their crap like that for others to deal with. Leave no trace!!! Pack it in, pack it out!!!
This hut is another rammed Earth one with a huge disabled toilet. I guess that’s beurocracy gone mad the fact that they have a disabled toilet made to suit wheelchairs out here in the middle of nowhere. It’s a long distance bush walking track, amd there are steps up to the toilet again.
I’m constantly surprised by some of the things people bring with them, a couple of huts back Melvin had cans of baked beans. And that’s on an 8 day stretch, they were already 3 days in, I hope he’s going to take the cans out with him. Matt at the hut here has a stainless steel thermos, because he likes to drink coffee while he’s in the trail. Wow, a thermos, that’s a heavy luxury, and he’s 2/3rds of the way through. I wonder if he’s the one someone told me about previously, who is carrying 28kg. Oh that’s right, he had a couple of big steal hanging hooks as well, one he carried for weeks from way up North.
Happy birthday to me.. Damn cold morning today, I woke in the night and ended up sleeping in my puffy jacket spending most of the night with my head buried under the quilt. Damn mattress is still noisy, Matt has the same one he said that blowing it up hard stops the noise, didn’t work for me last night. Next time I sleep on it I’ll take of the sheet off see if that helps. None of that will help the sore hips I wake up with during the night though, oh well, real bed tonight hmmmm. Matt is still in bed, he says he doesn’t get up till about 7.30 and leaves around 9. Gee, after 7, I’ve had my porridge and a coffee, about to have second coffee and I can hear him snoring. In bed at 7 in the evening, still in bed 12 hours later, that seems to be a reasonably common thing out here on the trail, 10 to 12 hours in bed. I can’t do it, my hips can’t stand it they are screaming for me to get up from about 3oclock onwards.
I Soo need a shower…..
Pretty easy day into Northcliffe, bit of a shock being back in a town again after so long out in the sticks. Sitting out the back of the visitor centre I feel a little self conscious about the state of cleanliness of both my self and my clothes. Not much I can really think of to add to today. The walking was very typical of what I’ve been through lately, not particularly hilly some softish bits of sand and a few puddles but I managed to keep my feet dry through a few sneaky bush bashes around edges of puddles.
I can imagine that towards the end of the walk I’ll be saying “yeah walked a bit through the bush today, that’s about it.”. I saw a variety of tracks today and not a lot of pig tracks.