Bibbulmun Track Diary - (Day 31- 40) - North to South - Steve Parish - September 3rd 2007 to October 23rd 2007
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Saturday 6th October - The three women finished their Pemberton to Northcliffe walk, and Frank said that he was having a rest at Northcliffe (only making it a 14km day). I decided to head on for the next hut, by following the railway line out of town to Gardner (a total of 29.8kms for the day), and had only been in the hut for one hour, when David, Peter and Bruce turned up from Schafer in the North, plus Helen, Frank, and their two young daughters walked in from the South. Lots of mosquitoes, but the wind got up as a front approached, so they became less of a problem. Bruce and to some extent David did their duo snoring trick. For once I got up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, which was a long walk from the hut, and marveled at the now clear sky with a million stars. They were always there, but often semi-obscured by trees. The benefit of no city of town lights out in the bush, lets you see more stars than you dreamt ever existed.
Virtually every day I am now seeing two or three Tiger snakes physically lying on the Track in front of me. If they are not there, I am far more conscious of their presence, as the leaves rustle and the grass sways on the sunny side of the track, as they slither away before I see them. For every one on the Track there are another five I hear, but do not see. It certainly keeps me on my toes, so I only dream of walking in a meditative state, while I really am more in a super-aware state instead! Sticks so often look like snakes, and yet snakes so often look like sticks. Believe me, there are thousands of sticks that you are constantly stepping over. I just keep reminding myself that I am semi-bullet proof from bites (I think) up to as high as my knees (with my gaiters on), and I would have to step on one to encourage a snake bite. Really the snakes are generally more scared than humans are, so 95% of the snakes get out of your way if they can in time. With this cooler weather some of them are rather slow to move away, but when it gets hotter they move at lightening speed. There are only extra snakes this year because of the very wet Spring weather, which has tripled the difficult to spot frog population, (but I heard them all day), and Tigers love frogs, so there are far more snakes around - so I am told. This next few 100+kms is known as more snake infested, with the swamps and flooded parts of the Track.
Sunday 7th October - I arrived at Maringup Hut around 12.30pm for an early lunch The hut "Register" book shows me that the majority of End-to-Enders going south, do not double hut, but stay here overnight. I got a fire blazing with pre-cut wet logs (it kept the flies and mosquitoes away) and had a soup lunch with peanut butter on biscuits and then a coffee to finish. There is a big lake here, but being cool and drizzling with rain, it is not inviting - not a swimming lake anyway. There was an amazing two storey dunny (toilet) or Rota-loo, self composing toilet to protect the quality of the lake's water. I walked down the Track that I would be taking around the lake to find lots of flooding.
My diary is now up-to-date again. This is the first hut to myself, as the three guys from the previous night, took the bitchumin road all the way to Dog Pool. Scared of getting their feet wet!! Thanks to the wind and smoke from the fire, the mosquitoes were just tolerable, even with anti-mosquito repellent on! Because I am beside the lake, this has got to be the worst mosquito swarms I have come across so far. If it is not the attempted biting, it is the high pitch whine that could almost drive you mad!! Someone left some repellent in the hut, but it is no better than mine, but thoughtful all the same - thanks.
The Benefits of Solo Trekking on the Bibbulmun Track
All in all it was a wonderful experience that I highly recommend. Don't expect that it will solve all the questions in your life time. If anything, it brings up more than it solves, but that's Ok.
Monday 8th October - It rained overnight, and other than getting lost for half an hour - when the Track went through a swamp (the signage was true) - by taking too large a detour (lesson learnt), I made it to Dog Pool - second hut to myself - with a walking speed of 3km an hour, because of the flooding. Still managed to get through without getting water in my boots! Instantly stripped and had an all over wash in the ice cold water of the Shannon river, and lit the last fire of the journey. That is something I will really miss!! Bumped into Rwan going north next day, so I didn't talk to anyone or see any signs of civilization for 3 days. Glad to say I am off the aircraft route map, as up further north, I would often see planes in the sky, especially at night.
Tuesday 9th October - The 20 year old called Rwan I met late morning, had dreadlocks in his hair and a large ring through his lip, but he was a really character. He had stuck fixamol tape on every toe on each foot, covering up huge blisters, as his uncle's boots were half a size too small for him. He was walking the Track in thongs, yet he wasn't complaining, but pushing on and loving the incredible flower scenery. He said he climbed trees to see what was further up ahead, or just to get a different perspective on the scenery. Just loved his attitude about life in general. We talked for about fifteen minutes and then both went our separate ways - me south, him north.
Mt Chance had the views from the rock behind the hut, but the hut itself was very enclosed by the bush, and had the tap for the rainwater tank on the wrong side - farthest from the hut and a long walk in the rain. This is the third hut to myself and no fire for company. Bed early.
Wednesday 10th October - I liked Woolbales hut, although I had spent two hours - two kilometres down the Track, building a bridge of branches, across a flooded creek and getting filthy dirty and very sweaty in the process. I was told by a guy (second person I have bumped into in four days, heading north), that it could not be crossed without taking your boots off. I tried and got a small amount of water over the top of my right boot. Getting mad with myself, I set about dragging every log and branch down to the flooded Track and building a walkable path, alongside the Track in the reeds and grasses. Acutely aware of Tiger snakes in the bush, I was very cautious before moving any wood, incase there was a snake underneath. After two to three hours of work, I took photos of the end result and wrote it up in the Woolbales Journal. It was hot, dirty work, but very satisfying. It made up for all the other stick and log paths, that other walkers had laid, so that I could keep my feet dry.
Thursday 11th October - Started early 6.40am after a photo session. Taking over 500 pictures usually with a tripod, slowed the journey down by approximately two days, but it was worth the effort. Met a third guy in sandals heading north about 6km out of Woolbales. Long discussion about boots verses sandals and the pros and cons - he almost convinced me ("matey" was his favourite word). He was the third guy in five days. It always came as a bit of a shock to see someone walking towards you, when you thought you were the only person around for 50kms.
Good to see the ocean, as I had ben hearing it ever since leaving Woolbales. It sounded like a jet engine being tested at Perth airport, with the waves crashing on the beach. Sand dune walking on poorly pruned Track is tough and very different. I will have to get used to it though and beach walking to, which is more appealing.
Spent the arvo (afternoon) sunbathing at Long Point campsite, another isolated hut and the fifth to myself for the night. Have just got enough food to make Walpole. 5.15pm and time to cook mash with tomato paste and parsley sauce. Chocolate pudding for sweets. Mosquito net will be going up tonight. It seems that they bred in the rock pools along the beach, as there is no other water around here. Somehow I thought being by the ocean I would not see or hear the little buggers, as they are very persistent.
Friday 12th October - Got up really early this morning at 4.30am and was on the Track by 6.05am. Very un-pruned Track, so I am glad I did not have shorts on, as some of the bushes are quite spiky. Often could not see where I was putting my foot down, until I got as far as the cleaning station (to scrape dirt of my boots and stop the spread of die-back disease in the trees). After that the Track was much wider, all the way to Mt. Clare, where I arrived at 10.15am. Wrote in both hut books (Track Register and Journal) - for the first time in the Journal I was a bit negative about the condition of the overgrown Track, as I understood that nobody local looked after it. The volunteers drive all the way from Perth, but only come down every couple of months, for a weekend, which is obviously not enough to keep the Track from getting totally overgrown. One of the negatives is that they even have to pay for their own fuel costs, which with rising petrol prices, makes a quite expensive journey.
Then I went to Walpole bumping into tourists along the way at Tinglewood Drive, who were all amazed that I had walked 750kms. It was truly a good feeling to know and say, that I was three quarters of the way to my destination goal of Albany! At Walpole I found the only hotel was not serving lunch - I had put a sprint on to get there before 2pm for a T-bone steak, - as the owner had gone to a wedding in Perth. The patisserie provided some tasty food, but not with the same energy content. The hotel at least had Tooheys Old black beer. Old is lightly hopped giving the ale a smooth transition from malty beginning to a bitter clean finish, and has been brewed since 1869. It is my alternative to draft Irish Guinness, which is bottled in Queensland. The draft genuine Irish Guinness cannot be compared to the Queensland based Guinness production, but it is still Ok, for the hotels that keep their Guinness pipes to the cellar regularly cleaned.
I then booked in to the YHA for $22 and was about to do my laundry and have a shower, when I decided to pick up my 10kg food parcel from the Tourist Information Centre. They told me they had not got my parcel, and even let me check their store myself. My heart missed a couple of beats, as I kept calm and started thinking about the supermarket across the road. The manageress phoned the Post Office across the road, just in case they were holding it - that is the service I had used to send it from Perth. Thankfully they were holding it, as they didn't want the woman at the Tourist Centre lifting the 10kg box, as she had just had an operation - she was off duty today, so nobody knew what had been arranged. I asked what would have happened, if I had picked it up next day (Saturday). The Post Office woman manager said she would have come into town and opened up the post office, so I could retrieve my box of food. Sighs of relief as I staggered up the road, clutching my box with all the food contents individual weighed and packed. You just don't get the range of food, or the small quantities, in a country town. You therefore spend more money and have lots of wastage, while not having such tasty meals.
Left a message on Renya and Luke's phone answering machine, to say I was passing through Walpole, rather than resting there for a day. That evening I had a huge $23 T-bone steak at the hotel and some cheese cake with a few stubbies of beer beforehand, while I sat and vegetated in the hotel restaurant area. I was certainly dressed differently to the tourists, but my clothes were the cleanest smelling and looking that they had been for the last week! I then went back to my shared room (nobody else had arrived) and packed my food into my 18kg backpack - bringing it back up to 28kg. I gave Kerry and Jeff all the items I would not use, as by now I was more aware of what I wanted to cook, and what I just never seemed to get around to using. Bed at 10pm - what a pleasant change and I was really tired too.
Saturday 13th October - Woke at 4.30am and left at 6am, leaving the key in the door as requested. Uncomfortable heavy climbing of the big hill out of town, but beautiful views of the Walpole Inlet in the early morning stillness. I like getting up early when few others are around. I seem to achieve so much more in a day. Either that or the four beers yesterday afternoon and evening, were slowing me right down! 17.4kms seemed forever, and when I arrived at Frankland hut, there were 15 day walkers about to leave. One of the walkers told me where to go on the rocky river bank for a swim, so I had my fourth skinny dip, including some all over sunbathing on the flat rocks to dry off. Water was very refreshingly ice cold. Might have my sixth hut to myself consecutively tonight I am alone and it is 3pm. Tonight I have to watch for a very aggressive food raiding Possum, so the hut Journal informs me and a notice on the hut wall from CALM. I have a lot to guard with all my new supplies. That is another reason why I would not dream of double hutting with such a heavy pack. I do love the design and totally different layout of this hut beside the river, plus it is raised, presumably to allow for flooding. Coffee time.
Sunday 14th October - I have a week of catching up to do as the Red Book (Journal) at the hut, has seemed more important to put comments in, rather than this diary. Also being by myself in so many huts, sometimes arriving late in the afternoon, have all seemed semi-valid reasons. Thinking back to the hut at Frankland River, a group of five kids - three girls and two boys plus three Mums arrived. They came in about 4.15pm from Raeme Head campsite in the South. They were easy to talk to, with the kids being on their last few days of school holidays, as they were back on Monday 15th to Walpole school.
Sunday started with the knowledge that my walk plan spreadsheet for the day, did not mention the next campsite was "Giants", although I had got the km's right at 31.4kms to Raeme Head. It was not until half way to "Giants" of the total 13.7kms that I came across an elderly woman walking the opposite direction. She had muscle legs in shorts, more of a day pack (semi-large) than an End to End backpack. She had two white pigtails and a beanie type of hat on, looking about 68 to 70. She did not slow down or want to talk. I said "g' day" (good morning), and she only responded slightly, well after she had gone passed. I also asked how she was, but she had ignored that comment as she approached me.
While listening to the buzzing sound of lots of bees on the flowering trees at "Giants", while having lunch, suddenly this woman arrived from nowhere, said good afternoon, I am having lunch, and then refused to answer any more comments or questions. What she was doing just wandering around I did not understand. I even questioned in my mind whether she was deaf or perhaps just anti-social. It all spooked me, further encouraging me to double hut, even though my backpack was still very heavy from my re-supply at Walpole.
It was a long haul that exhausted me, but I had the hut to myself after walking in light showers all afternoon. I looked back to see heavy rain from a bank of very black clouds, drowning the "Giants campsite" and "Tree Top Walk" area. My guides (spiritual) had looked after me yet again. The previous hut "Mum's" had said that the forecast was heavy rain, yet I had managed to avoid it by heading for the coast.
Monday 15th October - I awoke early on a sunny warm morning, photographing the sunrise with over 10 shots. Packed slowly, as I almost did not want to leave. Also Peaceful Bay was only 12.4kms away for my days walk, although it proved to be more difficult, through signs being missed or washed away, than I expected. Some how I ended up on the "Old Coast Track", finding a sign that pointed out to sea, with no other signs around. Either I could back track up the hill to try and locate the correct Track, or I could work my way along the coastal beaches, until I rejoined the Track at Point Irwin. I decided to not go back (a mistake that would cost time and effort). Previously when I took a wrong turn I had always gone back, but this time I felt I could not get lost and the route looked interesting. The old Track had gone through here previously, so I was not taking a short cut, just a more adventurous route.
After walking across countless beaches strewn with, round large pebble like rocks, and even finding a creek that came out by the beach, where a Tiger snake lived, I eventually made it to Peaceful Bay, only re-joining the newer Track just before Elephant Rock. To this day I am still puzzled how I managed to make the mistake, when my map clearly shows that the Track does not stay down at the beach. The trouble was once I was down there, there were no tracks leading inland.
Had my first hamburger in a bun for a 1.30pm lunch and was offered an old caravan for $30 a night in the Peaceful Bay Caravan Park. Hot showered and washed my clothes in the laundry machine and then phoned Renya to say where I was. She reminded me that she had been camping there when she was 4/5 years old, with her Mum and myself. What an amazing memory she has. Nothing had changed except for new owners, but the same petrol and diesel pumps and still only one shop at Peaceful Bay for the campers.
36:Just Cruising - I don't cruise any more, I run and I sprint to complete my life's destiny - on time, under budget and loaded with high quality. Steve Parish Original Affirmation v4
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