Kalamunda to Albany, the return leg
You may wonder what this picture has to do with the hike, I spent two nights in Fremantle prison while I was in town. That was quite an experience. Part of the prison is now YHA accommodation where you can stay in an old cell. I stopped in the city for 3 days as I needed to sort out a few things, I had new sandals in Perth to pick up, I would look at getting a new sleeping pad as I had a slow leak and my stove had intermittent issues. Three days later I was set to go but it was pouring with rain so I took an extra day.
Then back into it. Left on Friday the 11 June and spent the first night camped at the hills discovery centre as there was a group at the booked in at the Ball Creek hut. Caught up with Zack (Captain Hook) and After Dark Mark here randomly, they had finished their end to end then been down hiking in the Stirling’s. I then doubled to Waalegh hut and was told but some other hikers on the way here the hut name is pronounced more like “wolich”. I caught up with BnB Bruce that I’d last seen way back in the first week after I started.
Another double to Mt Dale where I spent the night alone. Then another double to Canning picking up my supply bucket along the way at Brooklyn hwy. Monadnocks for a single where there were a few people and Meg rolled in, she’d been following behind me and doubled here catching up. Single hut over Mt Cuthbert and Mt Vincent to the Mt Cook hut, only a short day but big hills and a couple of north bound people here for the night. Another single to Nerang where the temperature dropped over night and I woke with ice all over the outside and inside of my tent.
Damn that was a cold night. Packed up and moved on to Gringer for another single and found that my tent was still covered in ice when I unpacked, damn de-icing and drying my tent in the afternoon. Picked up my resupply bucket which has 4 days food supply but then figured I’d only have another 2 nights before getting to Dwellingup. One night over White Horse Hills then double to Chadoora, so I packed 2 days food back in the bucket along with everyone’s rubbish. There was a lady staying here tonight who was carrying lots of fresh food. A bag of apples, zucchini, capsicum, carrots, bananas, she was making up salads for dinner, said she was carrying 15 days from Dwellingup though I’m not sure how she possible could. She also had a big woolen sleeve to go over her noisy sea to summit sleeping mat.
Then on the way to white horse hills went past Mr speedy pants out for a trail run. The next day left really early, it was a long day, 30km over Mt wells and 30m out of camp I was completely lost. Freezing cold, raining, pitch black and all recently burnt so you couldn’t see the walk trail easily at all, eventually after wandering around in the blackened bush for a while I found the trail again though it was very hard to follow. Still up and over Mt wells and ran into Mr speedy pants again running up the mountain, then into chadoora. Pru turned up, interesting to catch up with her again after seeing her only a few days out of Albany. Meg had been given a present of a bum bag filled with lollies from Mr speedy pants.
20 km day into Dwellingup and I was there by 11am, nice 5km/h, time to eat bacon and eggs and a coffee then off to wash clothes before I send about 1kg of gear back, then picked up my 7 days of food when I’m only only going to need 4. So picked out the bits I liked most and gave a heap of food to Meg, her partner came to see her and she gave the food to him saying he eats lots. Out of town the next morning for a double to Murray hut, that was my silly idea. So it’s been 80 km in 3 days, well 2.5 days. Single hut to possum springs the next day easy and uneventful but then up at 3am the next morning to walk in the light off the full moon.
Damn that was cold and hard to see but we’ll worth the effort for a different walking experience, a double hut all the way to Harris dam hut a distance of 32 km. Tomorrow is easier, back to about an 18 km walk into Collie, I’ll be getting up fairly early for that so I can get into town and get things done. I did make a mistake today, spoke to a guy walking in the opposite direction then as I walked on I wasn’t paying attention and went straight passed a turn off so I probably walked an extra couple of kilometres.
Collie, good to get into civilization again.. Arrived about mid day and went straight to the hotel to drop off my gear and going out to eat. Notice how so many of the town visits tend to focus on eating? Another early morning, off at 6.30 and it was dark and cold, the wooden pedestrian bridge in town was covered in ice and a treacherous walk, I was feeling pretty good after having my first decent night’s sleep in quite a while.
I’ve tended to gloss over things a bit here so far as difficulties and hardships along the way, perhaps because it’s just part of daily life, the things you have to deal with.
Night times suck. Most nights you have eaten dinner by 5.30 because it’s starting to get dark and it’s just easier to do it before it gets too dark. Then you’re in bed sometime between 6 and 7.30 because it’s been dark for a while and it’s so cold. You’ve had to put on you night/camp clothes at some stage of the afternoon after setting up your bed, sliding the clothes over your sticky dirty body. I guess that’s the one advantage of the long thermals in a way, they cover over the dirty body so it’s not sticking to the mattress or sleeping bag, you can almost kid yourself that beneath it you might be clean laying in bed, but you wiggle your toes as I am right now and feel them sticking together, there’s no pretending that you’re clean in any way there’s days of sweat and dirt that’s built up.
So, you lay on the narrow blow up mattress under the quilt, beanie on, woolen gloves on, thermal bottoms 2 thermal tops, thick double layer socks. If you lay on your back you have to interlock your hands or fingers on your stomach or tuck them into the top of your pants, of you let them fall to your sides and the mattress isn’t wide enough so they fall off the sides onto the ground. You roll onto your side and you feel cold air seeping in somewhere so you fiddle around trying to plug any gaps, it’s cold. Every time you move the noise of the mattress and your bedding is off putting, and every time you roll over you need to concentrate to be sure your in the middle of the mattress. You don’t really sleep soundly, you doze off and on during the night. Roll over, wake up and look at the time, 9.00. Try and sleep. Look at the time again, 11.00. Roll over, doze, is it time to get up yet? 12.00… You face feels sore because of the cold so you pull the quilt up over your face but you have to curl your legs up a bit to get the cover over your head. Doze stretch legs because your legs are feeling sore. This pulls your head out from under the quilt. The cold.. it’s only 12.30, need sleep. Curl legs up and pull the quilt over your head again, lay there for a bit, still feel cold seeping in somewhere. Sleep. Is that sun or the moon, what’s the time? 2.00. Way to early to get up.. Finally you wake for the 10th time, it’s about 5.00, what the hell get up. It’s proper cold now, there’s ice covering the table outside, you get your pack and food down from where you hung to keep away from the mice unpack bits for a coffee and some breakfast. The gas stove is a bit slow because of the cold. After making porridge you need to clean the pot, the water is cold and your fingers ache, still pitch black. Now comes the worst part, time to put on day clothes, off with the warm stuff and on with smelly damp shorts and shirt for hiking, hands are still part numb with cold even in gloves. You begin packing gear leaving the tent till last, if the tent isn’t covered in ice the condensation and dew covering it is so cold your fingers ache again. It’s still dark, you’re rubbing your hands desperately trying to warm them up, everything is packed and it’s time to start walking to warm yourself up a little, as you walk holding your poles with one hand your other hand under an arm pit trying to warm it up you remind yourself that you’re out here by choice, this is what you want to do, it’s all part of the experience.
The walk to yabberup was quick, I was pushing it to miss the rain I could see a large storm on the radar while I was walking but the rain seemed to evaporate. Still I made it in and had camp luxuries, cold pizza and an apple turnover for dinner.
That night Lee came into camp late and in the middle of the night he had quite a snore going. Meg was awake and she sent me a message saying she’d get up and walk as she couldn’t sleep, and she wanted to do a double hut. An hour or so later I woke up to the sounds of snoring and the Meg saying “bye” as she walked out of camp at 3 in the morning.
Damn I hadn’t even woken as she packed. I lay there for 2 more hours before getting up myself and leaving. Man, 44 km day leaving at 6 in the morning I managed to average 4km an hour over the day before pulling into Grimwade just before dark. Then up in the morning for the walk into Balingup for a night arriving just in time for the last pies at the bakery.
Out of Balingup and up to Blackwood hut ran into Pack Animal, what a small world the same place I saw him on the way up, great night and back in the tent again even though it was windy and wet. There were a lot of new plantings around the hut here.
Simple walk to Gregory brook, hard to find good wood for the fire.
Next day into Donnely River Village arriving before lunch, yum good fresh food and I grabbed some food it the hiker box including some dehydrated meals which ended up being great, should have got more. We were leaving in the morning for another double hut, up at 4.00 for another 40km day.. Walked a bit with Meg today and she was suggesting she may want to double again tomorrow. Damn that’s a 43km day with lots of big hills. I’m going to feel stiff in the morning after the big one today and I ain’t doubling tomorrow. I lost the end of one walking pole, I knew that it had been a bit loose and I was waiting for things to dry out so that I could super glue it but I waited for too long and it fell out somewhere while I was just carrying the poles, I wasn’t going to walk back looking for it, a quick stick repair.
Left at an average time but the weather was shocking, hailstones littered the trail, thunder, lightning and more hail storms. Not a nice day but now only one day from Pemberton. Made great time getting into Pemby, I was powering along at the thought of a bacon and egg burger with chips. The burger was tiny but oh well. I stayed in the Best Western, a nice hotel and I’d been contemplating a rest day as I hadn’t had one since leaving Kalamunda but the following night was all booked out. Oh well the hotel gods have spoken, up and off in the rain. Funny how a 20 km day seems like a short one now..
Another short 20km day to Schafer, I probably could have left earlier and doubled into Northcliffe because it’s only about 13km into town but I’ve decided not to push things. My knee was a little sore and with over 350km to go I figure there’s no great rush. And if the hotel gods are with me then perhaps I’ll get a day off in town to really rest my body, 650km with some long days and no break is perfectly doable but I’m not out to break myself and now the young speedy ones are gone, bye Meg, I don’t feel any peer pressure. It wasn’t a bad day today, a little hilly and drizzled off and on for a lot of the day but nowhere near as bad as previous days. Tomorrow doesn’t look good though, 20mm of rain forecast with storms and it’s not something I can dodge, from mid morning on wards and I’m not leaving well before dawn. I also heard today that lake Maringup is closed with a diversion in place so there will be a long day coming up second day after town.
After a rest day in Northcliffe where I seemed to do little but lay in bed and eat food I was ready to go again. Ok perhaps not just lay in bed and eat, I’d managed to clock up about 5 km walking around town but I guess 5km is a bit like laying in bed compared with what I was used to. I’d eaten a steak sandwich with chips n salad, a toasted sandwich a large pizza, 1/4 of a large lemon merang pie, squid and chips with salad, a large bag of chips, 2 bananas, half a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits and a few other bits and pieces in a day and a half.
Left town and the day was beautiful, sun shining not a cloud in the sky, so different to the day I’d arrived when it had rained for hours.. This was an easy 15km day to gardener though there was a spot by the river about 5 km before the hut where there was a huge puddle, I looked for a way around it but discovered the river was right beside the track so I went back into the puddle and waded. It was at about shorts depth and icy cold. Damn. When I looked closer water had been flowing along this section of the track here like an extension of the river, the puddle was at river height, I wouldn’t want to be here when things were deeper. I got to the hut and read about Lee going through yesterday, he had waded through waist deep water here. I was glad I didn’t leave yesterday. All good at the hut here but I was feeling keen to get up early and get going, the last weather report I’d read said that a big front was coming overnight, I wanted to be away from the river as quickly as possible tomorrow before the river rider much more. We were expecting THE big front of the year according to the BOM and everything was already saturated so it would all run off. Early start, big day on the bypass following Dave’s recommended roads so hopefully a little over 30 km in the rain.
An ok day, I left about 7.00 and 10 minutes out of camp or starts to pour, of been expecting this. It hasn’t rained much over night but now it was making up for it. Came across a deep puddle about 50m long that I had to wake, damn the water was icey cold, my lower legs were in pain from the cold. The rest of the day was boring road walking along the bypass, there’s no way I was going to consider walking to lake Maringup after hearing Meg had got her shorts wet going there. I was also not just taking the normal bypass but another road, Steve’s Rd that Dave had told me about. For most of the day it just drizzled a little bit then about 5 km from dog pool the thunderstorms started to roll in. It poured for about 15 minutes then passed over for an easy walk into the hut. Well I see easy, I’d been pushing it to get here trying to beat the rain and my legs and feet were now tired and sore, ran into one other guy taking the extended bypass as well, good to get a report about what was coming up, he says a fair bit of wading, though not too deep. Ahh I knew it was coming. Still, a nice relaxing afternoon at the hut listening to the gushing water after getting into camp not long after 1. Damn if Dave was right and it was about 30km which I’m guessing it was, that means I was close to 5km/h over the day. Flat roads and the threat of thunder storms had increased my pace.
The walk to Mt Chance was ok but started to get wet towards the end with a fair bit of wading though nothing too deep. Lots of rain and a fairly quiet night but myself again. But the next day to Woolbales was shocking water. It was constant wading, wading, wading anything up to shorts depth with rain and wind to go with it. Got the last out of my resupply bucket and now I had silly amounts of food really. Towards the end of the day the water got even worse the last section before the hut was really slippery wading over knee deep and the wind and rain were coming in hard. I was hiding under my brolly trying to steady myself with the other hand holding my poles with sleet hitting me, it was just plain horrible and then the final insult was an even deeper section where my shorts got wet. Man was I glad to get to the hut, I think this was my toughest day yet because of the conditions.
The mornings wasn’t much better, gale force winds, though luckily only scattered horizontal showers to go with it. Still a lot of getting the feet wet with flooded track and there were section on hills where the track had become a river. Walked through the dunes to Mandalay beach and the wind was ferocious coming off then ocean. Leaving the beach I was being sand blasted painfully on the back of my legs then rain and hail hit, smashing into me, it wasn’t pleasant. Still, made the hut with only one more day to Walpole.
Tingle All Over was shut for the 2 nights I was going to be in town so I stayed next door at the “Bates” motel. It was a bit weird. It was here after discussions online that I decided to wait for a bit to see if sappers bridge would open up and my birthday was in 2 days so I got picked up and taken back to Denmark for a couple of days which allowed me to drive out and check the bridge, it wasn’t going to be open in a long time, couldn’t see the bridge it was all froth.
So dropped back on the trail after a break and made my way to Giants. Ran into Geoff here, I’d seen him in collie briefly way back. easy walk to Giants with not too much rain.. Then up in the morning and onto Rame Head the next day. Not a difficulty day but there’s some more rain of course and blowing a gale up here. It showered on and off during the night then up for an interesting days walk the next day to peaceful bay, realy rough seas with huge swells up over 6m this made them crossing of one section impossible and had to bush bash around it.
I’ve never tried to get through more difficult bush, shocking thick scrub. Still made it to Peacefull Bay, the caravan park was shut so I was picked up by Jacko for a night of luxury then dropped back the next day, we walked along and did the canoes. Boring walk across the show grounds but then back on the beaches we got some areas where we were up on edges of dunes, some areas you couldn’t climb the dunes, you’d just wait for a gap in the swells and then make a run for it, sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t.
It was a long day getting to Boat Harbor and was going to be an even longer day getting too William Bay the next day. Up at 5 gone by 6 this seemed to be there standard now a days. Long walk to parry’s with only a little rain and then onto the diversion up Parry’s Rd to the hwy. I managed to score a lift from a surfer guy along the hwy section waving at Geoff as we passed him by, there’s was no more room in the car for him. Ran into Jacko who bought us a couple off beers we’d left at his place so we day at the hut drinking beer in the sun.
Off to Denmark, the forecast was for gale force winds and it didn’t let us down. Blowing a gale with hail and rain, there were a couple of times you just stopped faced your back into the horizontal hale for a while till it passed, then continued on. Walking up Mt Hallowell wasn’t pleasant in the forest but made the walk into town without getting blown away or washed away.
Back on the track after a night off in Denmark with an nice walk out to West Cape Howe and the rain mostly held off for the day.
Up fairly early for the walk to Torbay hut and this was a very frustrating day for me. I’d walked about 1970km without one trip, slip or fall, most people tend to fall or slip over multiple times on a hike but I’d made it through unscathed. In fact I hadn’t fallen on my hike 3 years before, so really I’d done close to 3000km on the track remaining upright till today. Within sight of Albany I slipped and went down on my backside on the slippery boards at West Cape Howe..
Ran into 4 other people at Torbay hut and they had all made it across the Torbay inlet, this was the last hurdle and they all reported that the wading ranged between waist and chest deep depending how lucky you were. So after sleeping in the tent on a night where it rained fairly constantly we were up at 5 and headed off along beaches that were almost nonexistent in many spots because of erosion towards the inlet.
Geoff had a quick look then stripped off, threw his pack on his head and was off, he was lucky, only waist deep for him, I followed suit, stripped, pack on head and away I went though I wasn’t so lucky. I managed to hit a deep hole and ended up basically neck deep before coming to a sand bank where it was then only about a foot deep. Trying to climb this steep bank of sand under water was almost impossible, the sand was super soft and the bank just dissolved under my feet. Still, a bit of effort digging my knees in and I was up and out of the inlet channel and pulling on my clothes just as a 4×4 drove down the beach.
Stop for lunch at Mutton Bird hut then continue to Sand Patch, the rain was pretty constant for most of the afternoon with the odd hail storm. The hut at Sand Patch is new and quite nice but the weather was horrid and the wind blew straight through the hut, out sleeping bags were blown off beds and we both retired about 6.00 because it was just cold and nasty. My last night on the track and my longest night in bed because it was still horrible weather and only a very short day, didn’t get up till about 7.00, oh yeah 13 hours in bed. The walk into town was short, reasonably wet and filled with mixed emotions as the adventure was coming to a close.