Collie to Dwellingup Nice days walk today without to many hills but my pack is heavy with a 6 day resupply. Yeah damn long day, ran into a couple of people along the way walking south stopping for a bit of a chat. there were some lovely sections of forest where the larger trees were more spread out and low acacias covered the ground between the trees, some sections were in full bloom and looking magnificent.
Small part of fairy garden
There’s a bit of a hill towards the end of the day when you get near Harris dam and towards the top, just off the side of the track there’s a lovely fairy garden that spreads through an area of the bush, some kids have been having a ball up here. Arrived at camp and there were a couple of people here with a fire going, a brother and sister who were doing an end to end, had a good chat for a couple of hours then before 6 they both went off to bed. That’s I think perhaps the earliest I’ve seen anyone go to bed yet. Now I’m sitting eating my tuna casserole thinking that I must really smell. Lots of insects here, perhaps the others knew about them. Little buggers are buzzing around everywhere, crawling all over my screen and my hands while I try to type this.
Off in the distance I can hear droning, I guess it’s the bauxite conveyor. Easy day tomorrow, looking forward to it, only about 14 km.
My feet were getting quite sore today, I’m interested to see how tomorrow goes and glad it’s short for that reason, I wore my shoes and will wear them again tomorrow. Damn killing lots of bugs trying to type. Checking the map I see that today I passed through the Ewok forest, didn’t see any Ewoks.
I spent my first night in a top bunk last night, that was different. I had to get up during the night and climbing down the ladder with my socks on was a bit of a disaster. I started going down the wrong way with my back to the ladder, them tried to turn around and ended up missing a hand hold and swung wildly around holding on for dear life to the one post hoping my one socked foot didn’t slip off the ladder. All good, don’t think I woke anyone.
Sneaky guy was hiding inside the roll till I pulled the paper. Ahhh!!
Woke early this morning though, the others were up before 4 and starting to pack. Don’t know what that was about the discussions the night before had been about getting away before 8 in the morning and we’d giggled a bit about people walking in the dark. Now in these little huts unless you have earplugs in and your heads buried deep in your sleeping bag or preferably a big bucket of sand there’s no sleeping through 2 people pulling apart their tents and packing all their gear away, every movement reverberates through the structure you’re sleeping on, headlamps swinging around flashing over you. And zips, who knew a simple zip could be so noisy, and just how many zips can there be in 2 people’s gear.
So now it’s 5am they’ve gone and I’m up, I’ve had my first coffee, the sun isn’t up for another 2 hours yet. Nibbling on peanuts because they are heavy, second coffee is on. I have such a short day today there’s no sense in me leaving early to get to the next camp at a ridiculous time. I didn’t sleep well last night either, after sleeping in a normal bed in Collie for a few nights and yesterday being my first day back walking in a while my feet and legs were sore, aching. Plus the other 2 both had the same mattress as me and were inside a tent which meant that every time one of us moved it was pretty loud. Soreness and back into the camp bed with lots of noise means no great sleep. If you’re a light sleeper and thinking of doing the Bibb practice first. Go set up your bed in a busy public place and try to sleep. Ok maybe not, but don’t forget your earplugs and understand that you’ll be living and sleeping in among snorers, shufflers, early risers and all manner of different people doing different things, and they have as much right to be there as you do. If you are a little concerned about this, set your tent up outside, the camping sites are usually a fair distance from the hut, far enough away that normal activity in the hut won’t disturb you.
6 o’clock eating my porridge, the sky is clear and it’s pretty damn cold. Only half an hour till first light, an hour till sunrise.
Strange grass tree
The hike to Yourdamung hut was a short day only about 15 km and with me leaving so early I arrived in camp about midday. The walk was fairly flat and unexciting through a mix of jarrah marri with some sections of sheoak and grass trees along the way. Feet are still pretty sore, I think tomorrow I’ll try back in sandals again, looks like the weather is turning and there will be some rain again tomorrow. Today was bordering on hot when you were in the sun for too long but now the wind is picking up and it’s quite blustery.
Feeling pretty tired after the poor sleep and early morning, I might have an afternoon nap, try and catch up on some sleep. I really should eat some food too, I haven’t managed to finish a days rations since I started this section, I eat it or carry it.
When the track becomes a stream.
The walk to Possum Springs was lovely not too much in the way of hills, I did wear my shoes again and of course today there were some bits I couldn’t get around which meant my shoes got wet about half way through the day. Not surprising I guess as it had poured last night for a while, the rain woke me but I had a fairly good sleep. Shoes and socks are now drying by the fire.
Today had some great areas of acacia flowering, the under story of the bush alive with yellow from 2 or 3 different varieties of acacia. Some minor swamp areas but mostly forest usually at different stages of fire recovery. Past one E2Er on his way heading south, he set me straight about the water crossings I hit tomorrow. Not too bad, only knee deep so long as I walk the right line. He’s left instructions in the red book about the two crossings and where to walk so you only have knee deep water rather than what might be waist deep in the centre. Suggesting that of the water is clear it should be easy to see the right line to walk though if it’s muddy you may miss it and end up waste deep in some spots.
Look like another night alone, my socks are dry, I’ll keep working on my shoes but I’m being very careful not to burn them. My hands are black after wood collecting, don’t know if I can get them very clean here. This is a poured earth hut with the huge toilet but the tap on the water tank only lets out a tiny dribble. Just when I thought I had most of the water tanks sorted out. They all have different taps and many are spring loaded. I’d discovered that the spring loaded twist taps also have a very slow flow when you turn them in the standard “on” direction but if you turn and hold them the other way you get a much faster flow. This one unfortunately is a simple push down spring loaded tap and it’s a dismally slow trickle. Oh well only 4 more days till I get a shower at Dwellingup. Yay!
Door fit for a zombie apocalypse.
The toilet door here at Possum Springs is suitable for anyone concerned about privacy in a toilet with 4 separate locking methods including 2 deadbolts. Yet, the door doesn’t even shut. Not one of the toilet doors on these poured earth toilet blocks I’ve seen so far has shut, they all jam so the locks are pointless. Perhaps in the dry warm weather they will shrink a bit.
Only a couple of very light showers today and the odd sprinkle since I’ve been in camp, the forecast has changed and the 20mm with storms I was expect today or tomorrow seems to have gone, still weather says 10mm but I’ve either missed it or perhaps it’s tonight, tomorrow is only 1mm.
Had my standard flavoured Deb and cup of tea when I got to camp now I’m sitting by the fire on a log having a scotch in the middle of nowhere, the sound of the conveyor belt is only a distant hum but it’s been every present over the past couple of days, I think I cross it in the next day or two. The sun is setting, black cockatoos are flying over, not sure if it’s the smoke from the fire or the steam from my manky shoes stinging my eyes. There’s something quite satisfying about drinking a scotch way out here in the bush by the fire, knowing that you carried it in here over the past few days. Speaking with the other guy today on the trail I mentioned that I’m starting to feel a little sad knowing the end is not so far away, he looked at me strangely saying it’s still a long way off, yeah but only about 2 weeks. But when you’ve been going for 6 weeks already, 2 weeks isn’t far away. The bottom half of the track feels like a world away from me now.
Though yes it is still 2 weeks away, probably a little early for me to start reflecting and remeniscing yet. I still need to get there yet.
I envy those leaving and heading south in spring. Today I was looking at many of the plants lining the trail and through the bush all in bud and I can only imagine what it will be like in spring when in full bloom. Still, I could turn around and walk back. A gentle rain starts to fall, I throw a couple of logs on the fire, swing the BBQ plate across the top to offer some protection and take half a dozen steps in under the cover of the hut. I feel blessed and very grateful that this trail is here for me to use and enjoy, that I can be warm and dry, out of the rain while immersed in the bush.
All cooking was on the fire today. Cooked this afternoon on the fire and now tonight I have a mix of some instant meal quinoa rice cheesy thing with my own dehydrated veggies and beef jerky added, pretty tasty really.
Dew on webs
Well that was a long day. Set of around 7.30 from Possum Springs on a very cold morning, while I was eating breakfast and packing camp there was a small amount of fog around but as the sun was just coming up over the hill the fog seemed to intensify becoming thicker so that by the time I left camp the fog was hanging quite thickly. Made for a lovely start to the day with the sun shining through the trees beaming through the fog. Spiderwebs capturing moisture from the thick fog as well as the sunlight, it made for a slow start to the day for me taking photos along the way and just taking in the atmosphere.
Sandals today, just as well, only half an hour in and there was a puddle a bit hard to miss though only got a little wet while I tried to skirt around it. A couple of moderate hills today, coming up over the first I could hear the droning of the conveyor fairly loudly even though it was still 5km away. As I walked I realised that I was singing and whistling “the sound of silence”, a little strange as there was no silence out here. Then the pitch of the droning started to drop. Damn, the conveyor was stopping.
I crested a hill and began walking down through lovely understory of acacia I was surrounded by yellow blossoms as I dropped down towards the conveyor, passing underneath the big structure as it sat lifeless. The bush became thicker here, I knew I was getting closer to the river and was also expecting the water crossings I’d heard of and had been half dreading. Not long after I came to a sign warning about the crossings explaining a bypass you could take along roads further on.
Detour? Where’s the fun in that.
As I continued things started to get wetter, there were large puddles around but surely these weren’t the ones they had talked about. Just as I was starting to think the water levels must have all dropped I hit the first one. Hmmm, ok socks off go through with sandals. From here for perhaps the next 6 or 8km the track was a constant string of large wet puddles though the worst I got was about knee deep. Some you could skirt around by carefully following the edge while using your poles in the water to hold yourself up, pushing trees and branches away as you went. Others you precariously hopped from one log in the water to another. For many of these puddles I was bush bashing around them, traipsing through the bush trying to push my way through the thick undergrowth. I could see some spots where others had pushed through the undergrowth but because most were coming in the opposite direction to me it meant that it was hard pushing against the undergrowth leaning towards me.
Puddle after puddle it just seemed never ending and was slowing my progress down. Just when you thought it had ended and the track went off on a little single trail through the bush on the side of the hill above the river, it then linked back again onto a vehicle track with more puddles. I took pictures of every big puddle and I was going to make a collage of them, but that’s a bit unexciting, the image above is a typical one.
After a while I came to the new bridge, this had only been opened very recently, the old bridge had been burnt down in a fire a couple of years back and this was a pretty impressive major structure. From here there’s only a few kms to camp, push on, arriving just before 4 in the afternoon. My info says the day was only 20km but my phone days I walked 24 km, I think that may be closer with all my early meandering and later bush bashing, almost 7.5 hours of walking, bush bashing and puddle skipping much of the way.
A standard bunk hut here at Dookanelly sharing it with a woman who’s heading south. I asked how she is going so far and she said physically good but mentally she’s not sure if she’ll make it. Hmm if you’re thinking you won’t make it less than 2 weeks in….. I wish her all the best.. Damn 7.00 and it’s freezing, she went to bed just after 6, I was going to watch some TV, better do it, too early for me to go to bed but damn it’s cold, I can feel it biting through my gloved hands.
Ohh it was a cold night, took me a while to get to sleep, had a really sore calf muscle that had started to come on late in the day while walking and it was aching in bed. Plus the pain behind my other knee hadn’t gone away, whinge, whinge, moan.
The toilet here is nearly full, huh, that rooky mistake of looking with the headlamp on, I should know better. It’s foggy. Today I tackle the carwash, an area of very overgrown track which holds lots of water and of course there was a light rain last night. Still I’ve had some bad sections like that down on the south coast already.
Nice day today at least for a fair while. The day meandered for me, another slow morning taking photos, enjoying the early morning fog. I was expecting the car wash I’d heard so much about but it wasn’t eventuating or at least it didn’t seem to be. There was a hill early in the morning, then the day progresses as so many others had, meandering up and down nothing to bad, I was in sandals again and managed to get all the way through the day without getting my feet wet, there were many little water crossings and some marshy bits, but they often tended to have some logs strategically placed across or I’d strategically place some myself. Now when I say logs I really mean sticks, perhaps 3 or 4 inches diameter just whatever you can find near by.
There’s a track in there somewhere.
The main feature of today was regrowth, rampant regrowth of plants after burning. Most of the day after the initial hill was trekking along the Murray river usually not far from the water. The rivers flow at this time of year was pretty impressive, there was a lot of water moving out. As the trail was along the river it was generally flat but it was predominantly through thick regrowth. This regrowth in the damp ground along the river was thick. A thickness that you would have struggled to push through if you needed to. For about half the day the trail was fairly well trimmed back on either side with just the odd bush hanging across type path I ran into a guy coming the other way on an E2E and he was swearing and cursing, saying that he was dripping wet and how he hated this section. He was concerned that his pack may have got wet inside because it was so wet. I thanked him for clearing all the water before me, but he didn’t see the funny side of it. I want sure what he meant, what I’d been through was not so bad. Then about another km further I hit it. Wow so glad he’s hit it before me and dislodged most of the water from last night’s rain. Here they hadn’t trimmed the track and you really had to battle through the bushes and about 50 percent were prickly acacia bushes, so while you have your head down and walking poles up pushing the vegetation aside, every now and then you’d yelp as you were pin cushioned by the prickles. Thankfully I wasn’t getting particularly wet at the same time. This went on for perhaps about 1 km before or opened up a bit more where people had cleared the sides of the track.
Fire damaged waugal
The track then climbed again up a hill and as the vegetation changed it became jungle like. The 2 or 3 monotonous plants from the low lying areas opened up into more of your standard forest with varied thick undergrowth. Vines climbed the trees, acacias were flowering, zamia palms were spewing forth their vibrant red fruits spilling over the ground and the trail. Bright orange and purple pea flowers lined the track with purple and blue ones thrown in. This was a lovely section the forest was vibrantly in varied regrowth. The lower areas seemed more like weeds had taken over, only 2 or 3 plants grew here, but on the slopes there was variety and colour to go with the lushness.
Arrived at the Murray hut around 3 and what a hut, right on the river. I scrounged around and made a fire and before long it was raging. So many people had been saying it was too wet to light a fire, rubbish, lots of little sticks and it will get going well enough to dry out slightly larger bits of wood. Shortly after a guy turned up, he’s about 70 and was suffering, he’s carrying quite a weight of gear, many things in plastic tubs, he’s already swapped a few things out and left a few things behind like his tomahawk but I reckon as he progresses his load will change a whole lot more. No hiking poles either, I think he is sold on the idea of getting some poles when he gets into collie.
Camp by the river
Poor bugger, he’s perhaps one of the more poorly set up people I’ve seen on the track, sleeping on a 5mm thin foam pad, in a 5 degree old sleeping bag in his undies and Tshirt complaining that he gets cold at night, he’d been dragging his rain coat over the foot of his sleeping bag to try and keep his feet warm, and he’d only just worn socks to bed last night for the first time after getting an extra pair in Dwellingup.
Anyway lovely chat with Kezza this afternoon/evening I hope he makes it to the end. I should get to bed, it’s late after 9 and my nose is getting cold.
We heard a tree fall in the forest last night while the night was dead still and we were standing around the fire chatting.
Update. I heard a rumour that Kezza was rescued only 2 days later after having a fall. That’s sad to hear.
Each bush holds about 1L of water in single drops, just waiting for you to walk past and touch it.
Damn there were some nice sized hills today, perhaps a bit of training for what’s coming up as I know that there are some veritable mountains coming. The day started walking along the river with similar country and conditions to yesterday. Lovely camp spot by the river here in a big flat you could get a 4 wheel drive down to. Then the trail turned and started up hill and kept going up hill. The walking continued after a small dip, back up and along a ridge for many KMS. There was good phone reception up here 4 bars, can’t ask for much better.
The trail then had a last serious up then down quite steep and a fair slog before a long slow meander down towards camp of a few kms. As I got closer to camp I could hear some serious machinery sounds, surely that’s not at the camp, but the closer I got the more it sounded like it was coming from the camp.
Sure enough when I arrived there were a couple of trucks and a bobcat working, the department were dropping off some gear at the camp, evidently volunteers were coming to do works at the campsite over the weekend, there were bags of concrete and steel bits and lots of wood, some major works were going to happen here. Lucky I got here tonight on Friday I imagine that by tomorrow the place could be pretty busy. There was a woman Helen here, she has just started a section down to Walpole and while chatting to her a young guy arrived, he was just out for some weekend hiking. Strangely here someone had burnt all of the grass trees, I wonder if that’s because of fire risk
Works about to happen
Up and at them, I was feeling pretty happy this morning, not sure why perhaps as I was about to head into town, first time in 7 days. Anyway pack up seemed to take longer than usual. In fact here was Helen first morning back on the trail, with a new pack and she wasn’t sure where everything was going as she tried to pack her gear away yet she managed to leave camp before me.
No great rush anyway, I was hitting town. The young fella was off early, he had left his tent pitched there and was going to walk to the next hut then turn around and come back. That’s a fair old hike, 40 km with some reasonable hills.
Meandering day today heading into town no great hills nothing super exciting. Ran into a group of day walkers and stopped for a chat, they were ooohing an aahing about the time I’d spent walking and the distance covered. One of them bought up the subject of work and it reminded me again that we really are defined in our society by what we do for work, for a job. “How can you possibly take that much time away from work?” How can you possibly be so wrapped up in work, so hamstrung by it that you can’t think to take a couple of months off to have an amazing life experience. Is your life purpose and goal to be a good worker for someone? How can you live your life for someone else who at the end of the day doesn’t really give a damn about you. If you suddenly disappeared, work would replace you in a flash with someone else, they’d find another cog. But you only get one go at your life, just one fleeting chance to do things before it will be all over.
I should stop getting all philosophical and get back to the track. Walking through the jarrah marri forest there were an amazing number of black cockatoos they seemed to be everywhere, this really is a bit of a hot spot area for them. I stopped for a while watching them and listening to their eating, cracking through the gum nuts, just crunching them up they have some strong beaks and Jaws.
The trail then let through some thick dark pine forest, this seemed surprisingly quiet and dead in among the the normal lovely forest. Assorted signs started doing the trail, it seemed that there were some walking and riding events going on that were going to be sharing the trail with me. Not long after a couple of dirt bikes roared off up the trail in front of me. The dirt bikes made a real mess of the trail digging it up quite badly although they disappeared fairly quickly there were more dirt bikes around the area you could hear. Then 2 mountains pushed passed me on the narrow trail I was definitely getting closer to the city, so much activity. The trail followed beside the road for a while and mountain bikes with Lycra clad riders began whizzing past on the road, although spaced out there were dozens of them passing while I walked. It all became clearer as I neared town there was a big event in Dwellingup, traffic was being controlled through the streets and the little town was packed. Some mountain biking and running event had taken over the town, lucky I wasn’t going to try and stay in town, I don’t imagine that there would be any accommodation available. I was heading about 5km out the other side of town to stay at a friend’s place. I signed the book at the information centre, bought some food and grabbed a couple of beers before continuing on.
Lovely night at my friend’s property last night sitting inside by a fire, eating meat, fluffy white bread and having a couple of beers. In the morning I helped prune the trees in his truffle orchard. I don’t imagine many people take a day out of their hike for that purpose. I’ve hand washed my clothes, it’s a sunny day and they should dry fairly quickly. I have 8 or 9 days worth of food including the 6 day supply i stashed here earlier plus leftovers I’ve been carrying and a few extra bits I bought in town. I should be able to stretch things to last until the end I think. Should be 10 days from here, about 200 km, 4 days in I’ll pass North Bannister roadhouse which does some nice food so that should just about get me up to 10 days without stretching things to far. What a strange thought, that I have picked up my last food drop. The next time I get to a town it will be the end, all over.