Northcliffe to Pemberton. It surprised me that one rest day can feel almost like a week. I probably shouldn’t have rest days, they remind me that life off the track is very different, that there are luxuries I like and miss when I’m on the track. I start to second guess how and why I’m doing it, telling myself that there are more constructive and useful things I could be doing, that walking out here is cold, wet, miserable and totally self indulgent. Though in writing this I realize how ironic that may sound.
The overwhelming feeling I had this morning as friends were driving me back to the track at Northcliffe was, ohh, it’s not over and done with yet, damn. Two nights in a hotel room filled with comforts and luxuries and a day spent hanging out with friends, with familiar faces and voices hadn’t satiated my urges for such things, it’s increased my want of them and made me question what I’m doing. Undoubtedly it will wear off in time. A few more days on the track and I’m sure I’ll be back in the rythm of walking and cotton sheets, fluffy pillows and light switches will once again be distant things in the back of my mind.
Still after 2 nights eating and drinking too much in Pemberton I was standing back at the trail in Northcliffe almost as if nothing had happened. I waved my friends goodbye and started walking again. At the start of the track heading out of town there’s a section of boardwalk that is rediculously slippery. There are signs warning of the slipperyness and there’s the usual trail of chicken wire nailed to the boards to give you traction, however the chicken wire stops after a while. I had to get off the boardwalk and try to bash a path through the soggy swamp beside it, you just couldn’t walk on the boards wet. The walking after this was fairly straightforward gently rolling trail and dirt roads till I reached the farm I’d heard about from others. This was the almost legendary farm where people tended to see the farmer going about his day and he’d stop to give hiker’s the “best apple I’ve eaten in years”. I’d heard this story from 3 Hiker’s but as I approached there were no cows about and no farmers, so allas no apple for me. There was plenty of evidence of cows through here and no easy way around the mud and cow poo.
All up I came across 4 electric fence lines across the road, now this is a road and the Bibbulmun track as well as the Munda biddi. I hate to think of the poor cyclists stopping in the poo and mud, having to take off panniers, man handling then under the wire, then getting the bike under as well. But on closer inspection I don’t think the electric fence was “on” though I had no easy way of testing it and I wasn’t going to touch it.
The muddy poo section wasn’t to long then the simple rolling road continued though more cow farming areas before finally heading into some bush. At 15 km this section was short and easy and I was at the hut just after 1. There was a guy here eating lunch, he was doubling through to Northcliffe and we chatted for a while, a local came past walking her dog and she stopped for a chat then before long I was on my own. Lovely spot here right on a lake or dam, it’s very picturesque.
There’s a roped off area for people to swim in the dam though this is about the furthest thing from my mind at the moment. There’s a thermometer nailed to the wall here and at 5 o’clock it’s under 10 degrees. The rain has held off for most of the day. It had rained while driving from Pemberton down to Northcliffe but the rain stopped while I walked, the sun even came out a few times. Now since I’ve been at the hut it’s hailed, it’s rained heavily and there’s been rolling thunder. I realised not long after arriving that my gas canister was very low, I’ll be lucky if I get 2 cups of water boiled with it.
All good, this is fire country and the hut has an axe and wood supply. I managed to get a fire going and boiled the Billy twice before the rain hit. I’d put some logs on and moved the hot plate over the fire when it started raining but the fires gone out now. Luckily I have food supplies which don’t need cooking, I have crackers, cheese, antipasto and flat breads along with an assortment of bars. Hopefully I’ll have enough gas for coffee tomorrow and the next day. I’ll limit myself to just the one coffee.
First hut with bunks. Space seems a lot more limited in this design, my tent inner fills most of the space, I guess there will be some limited opportunities for my tent as I get more of these huts and more people closer to Perth.
I think it’s going to be very cold here tonight, might put my long pants over my thermals. I’ve been checking the map and the days are getting longer. 22km tomorrow then another 22 km day into Pemberton, from the comments I’m reading in the book it’s hard slogging and hilly. Brrr, ok yeah second pants, another pair of socks and my gloves. Only way to get warmer now is raincoat and sleeping bag. Sit down and watch a movie then bed. Lol but it’s only 5.30.
7.00pm lots of thunder and lightning all around and the wind is howling. It’s humbling to be out here at the mercy of the weather surrounded by such ferocious power. I have no escape from it, just my little hut in the middle of the forest. Sticks are dropping on the roof and there’s a hole in the clear roof sheeting, I guess it was a larger stick at some stage. You know I think for now I may have escaped it. For now. The lightning storms passed to the south of me and to the north. I might plug my headphones in and watch a movie now, sometimes you are better off not knowing what is going on around you when you can’t do anything about it.
I may have missed the first storm but not the next, it went right over the top. The rain on the roof was deafening, the gutter couldn’t cope and the front edge of the hut was like a long flat waterfall along almost the whole side. Lighting lit up the forest around me like snapshots of daylight in the middle of the night. I was tempted to move my bed under the bunk just in case, but i rode it out. Before long the thunder and lightning moved on and the steady rain drummed me to sleep. Not a bad sleep too once I got there. Things are quite now, the sun will be up soon, water is still flowing off the hill behind me after all the rain last night. It will be a soggy out on the trail today, the path from the camp to the toilet is a creek.
Yesterday’s walking was like that to a large extent with the track often flowing, you had to pick your line and find the bits of high ground where the water wasn’t quite as deep and my feet remained mainly dry. Rain is coming again, just light. I think I need another coffee, if I use all the gas too bad tomorrow morning will be an iced coffee with mainly water a little powdered milk and one capsule of long life milk I pinched from the hotel.
I don’t really want to get up. Sitting drinking my second coffee, eaten my breakfast wrap of salami cheese and crackers, I’m keen to get my food drop at Pemberton for more gas and healthier food but that is 2 days and 44 km away. It’s cold, it’s still drizzling, better get into it.
Long day today not arriving at camp till 3.00 after 6.5 hours of walking There was a lot of up and down roller coaster sort of stuff and although it only drizzled a bit during the day the storms from the night before, and previous day’s had meant that there were some very wet bits. I spent a lot of time trying to dodge puddles to keep my feet dry but of course ended up wet. I took some large detours trying to get around one large swamps but it seemed that no matter which way I bashed though the bush I couldn’t get around the flooding, in the end I just walked on the track through the puddle, the water got to about knee deep at it’s worst.
The track was strewn with fallen limbs and trees. Some probably came down in the storms last week but many were fresh from last night. You could tell the fresh ones because the dirt where they were uprooted or where they had smashed into the ground was fresh and hadn’t been rained on much. I wouldn’t want to be out here in a storm like last night. Oh hang on, I was.
Followed the Warren river for quite a while today which makes for interesting views along with fungi and orchids and I’m seeing some of the same lovely little orchids I saw back on the coast hundreds of kilometres ago. Wow “hundreds of kilometres”, that has a ring to it.
Seems that i may have lost my reading glasses which makes life hard when living with only a small phone. I remember picking it up and thinking that I needed to put them into my shirt pocket where they normally live during the day but about half way through the day I noticed that they weren’t there. I’d done a quick scan across the camp before I left too but saw nothing. Oh well, that’s why I bought $5 ones, tomorrow I’ll get to Pemberton and but another pair, perhaps a brightly colored pair this time, harder to lose.
Considering a day off when I get to pemby as the day after Pemby it’s storms coming through, and it’s a long day, over 25km. In fact that next few days looks hard, over 20 km each day and very hilly in some sections.
Another thing I noticed that has changed lately is the food storage boxes in huts, from Albany all the way through the pingerup plains there’s been a big plastic tub to put your food in at night for vermin protection but since dog pool camp there hasn’t been a food box. Strange, since fires have been allowed there haven’t been food boxes.
My shoes ain’t gonna dry by the morning.
No my shoes aren’t even close to dry, they are sopping wet. But I figured that would be the case as it rained off and on most of the night. I guess my feet would have got wet today anyway. The gas canister has surprised me, I had 2 coffees yesterday, heated enough water for a cup of tea and some Deb/cup a soup last night, just had a coffee now going to try for a second.
Beautiful day today, there were a few good hills just to remind me about my legs but nothing too bad and the scenery was magic.
A mix of old road single trails and old railway lines I guess it’s a reminder that the area was extensively logged in the past and the roads and rail were the extraction methods, many little roads around the place. And although I say it was extensively logged, it can be hard to tell, there are some magnificent areas of forest with huge karri. I saw the first little valley of tree ferns today as well, very lush.
Ok I learned something today. Don’t take short cuts. Someone not so long ago had told me about trying to take a short cut and how it had turned into a disaster for her, well I gave it a bit of a go myself today. I came to a point on the map not far out of Pemby where the track went up and over a large hill, I was standing on a road that went around the hill and the bib crossed it a couple of kilometres further up on the other side of the hill. Bad weather was approaching and I wanted to get to town as quickly as I could so why not, it was almost the same distance just cutting out one hill, straight along the track I was on turn right at the next track then further up the bib would cross the road. I followed the track for a while, crossed the railway then the track headed down to a water crossing. Now they are obviously working on a bridge but there’s no bridge now just 40cm of fast following water.
Right, I didn’t want to get my feet wet, they had stayed dry all day and that water was flowing a bit too fast for my liking. Walking back to follow the railway I found that it ended up on a very tall bridge with only sleepers to step across, but wait, there was another track to the side, of course this went nowhere. Walk back again, there’s another track on the otherwise of the railway, it went nowhere as well. Ok I was going to get my feet wet, I thought about talking my shoes off but the rocks looked quite sharp so just forged across. The water was very fast and the pressure on my legs was fairly strong, I wouldn’t want to do that again. But success, turn right follow the track and I’ll be at the bib soon.
Another bridge that hasn’t been built yet except this one was 60 cm deep and just as fast following. Naaa..
I checked my map and found that there was another way, back to the last junction and keep following the road. I felt like a bit of a fraud it hasn’t really taken any distance off anything but what a mess around. In fact I think I have probably walked further with all the messing around.
The track I was following ended up in the old saw mill which was a bit yuck, following the track through I came to a locked gate, typical. A bit more exploring and I found my way out eventually. No shortcuts in future, just follow the trail.
I found the back packers and it was pretty horrible, I’d heard something about the fact that bib walkers didn’t stay here but rather in another house in town though you check in here. The office stunk and everything was damp I didn’t consider it a great sign, plus the office wasn’t open until 2, I had an hour to wait. Gee I’d made good time even with all my mucking around on detours walking into town.
I went to the bakery and had lunch, while eating I decided that i would head back to the hotel I’d stayed at a few days ago, it was expensive but there were comforts and I knew it. Looking at the weather there was a big front on the way and they were claiming it as the sort of front which you only see once or twice a year while the one of had a few nights before was only the sort of size you expect to have 4 or 5 times a year. I was going to have another zero day, so 2 nights in town. It was going to rain for the next week but only about 5mm a day, I was used to that but didn’t want another crazy storm day out in amongst it, not yet anyway.
I’ve spent the whole day sitting in my room trying to update the blog using my phone. I’ve managed to get one post up and now I’m working on the next. It’s slow going using the phone, so far I’m up to Walpole, that’s a long time back well over a week. The rain has set in and it’s been pouring for a couple of hours with water flowing like a Rober down the street outside. I met a local while I was at the laundromat, he couldn’t believe that I was walking in the rain and I must admit after standing out on my verandah here for a few minutes it’s nice to walk back inside again. Wow 4.30 already and I’ve spent most of the day staring at my phone, the rain is getting heavier, I’m going to get wet feet out there tomorrow.