Bibbulmun Track Diary - (Day 21-30) - North to South - Steve Parish - September 3rd 2007 to October 23rd 2007

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Monday 24th September 2007 Bottom arrow

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DAY 21

Monday 24th September - I arrived at "Balingup" and stayed at the "Backpackers" accommodation in town for $24 in a share room. It was a good one night stay, where I managed to wash all my clothes again and dry them in front of the fire in the evening. The hot shower and the sudden lack of smelling my wet clothes and body was really appreciated. Some of the walkers coming from the south told stories of wading through waist deep water, strongly advising us all to take the road, because of the flooded condition of the Track. I decided to judge it on arrival, as conditions can change in a few days or a week. They were talking about the section between "Maringup" to "Dog Pool". The bitchumin "Chesapeake Road" runs parallel just a little further south and then it was suggested to take the bitchumin"Deeside Coast Road" north, turning off on to the dirt road called "Dog Road" which takes you through to "Dog Pool" campsite. Apparently the only way you know you are on the Track as you wade along, were the banks of dirt on either side and in one section these walkers had taken the wrong flooded track, as signs were under water or not visible. It all sounded quite challenging, but then the road sounded too easy - we will see.
Phoned my daughter Ren to let her know I had made it this far safely. I then wandered around town, buying a bottle of South Australian Stout - better for me than an ordinary beer, another bar of dark chocolate (which I became addicted to, or had a craving for): then in the evening I made a mistake of buying a seafood pizza which was very average, even though everybody said the pizza's were good - must have chosen the wrong ingredients. Ren had talked on the phone about meeting up at "Pemberton" on Tuesday week (2nd) for a meal, as her partner Luke and herself were staying in town for two nights to celebrate their 6th anniversary - wow!! Now I have an additional purpose for walking, plus I will have to move a bit faster to get there on time

DAY 22

Tuesday 25th September - I was at the "Blackwood" campsite on top of a high hill with magnificent views, but with a howling cold wind and showers driving straight into the hut. Suddenly found a use for my rain tarp made of lightweight nylon with plenty of tie-offs. I rigged it up as a wall between the hut's pillars, to give some protection for Frank, myself and also eight kids (average age of 15) and their two teachers. They were on a three day hike and they were good kids, but I did feel like the hut been invaded when they all suddenly arrived.

DAY 23

Wednesday 26th September - 5.15pm at "Gregory Brook" campsite beside a fast flowing creek making lots of gurgling sounds. Camp fire roaring now that the timber has dried and the corresponding smoke has vanished. Love the sound of frogs, birds, wind in the trees and the water. As I have just written in the book (Hut Journal) "Another day in paradise!" Frank arrived half an hour after my arrival and we swapped stories about what had happened to us during the day. It is amazing how two people walking the Track half and hour apart have different experiences: - like I got wet and he didn't, the wildlife he saw that was not around when I walked through, and different things like I commented on some of the flowers and he pointed out the lack of bees landing on them. Because of the recent drought situation there was a lack of bees, although I did later photograph a swarm of bees landing on a tree.
I went "bush" and had a full wash, then changed into my evening Merino tee-shirt that was dry and warm, making me feel much better, especially after three mugs of tea with sugar - the Billy was just kept constantly boiling, saving large amounts of gas for other days further south. The camp fire provided a central point for gathering around, although rain showers eventually drove us back to the shelter.

DAY 24

Thursday 27th September - And I am staying at "Donnelley River Village" for $20 in a share room (but by myself). Completed a machine full of clothes washing and used their drier, while the rain showers came and went outside. The hot shower was fantastic and totally refreshed me, including clean clothes afterwards. I have stayed at the "Loco Shed" many years ago down the road, so I am aware that this holiday "Village" is more designed for families with kids. Cheap wooden houses to rent (mainly ideal for large groups) with very limited facilities - you make your own entertainment.
I had been walking all day with a headache and a very sore quad leg muscle in my left leg (it was giving me a "pins and needles" sensation, with a numbness to touch) - found out that I had pinched a nerve in my back when I got back to Perth. I had diarrhoea and a headache that evening and found my body kept telling my mind it did not want to walk during the day. Anything that was a non-walking distraction e.g. photographs, looking at views, etc. One thing I knew was that I should listen to my body - e.g. when it felt in the right condition to double-hut I would accept it's condition. In the evening I took a mineral salts tablet and headache pills, feeling better in the morning after an early nights sleep. (My only day of feeling unwell on the whole journey).

DAY 25

Friday 28th September and I arrived at "Tom Road" campsite at 11.15am - almost tempted to "double hut", but it was another 22km on top of 16km and the forecast was showers. Also this site is within 20 metres of the fast flowing "Donnelly River", so the sound and the sight of the water was restful. Also I am told the this hut has the last wood fire and heaps of pre-cut jarrah wood (most unusual). Two DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation) men arrived a few hours ago, to chain saw a log that had fallen across the tent access path - Marri tree - not as good a wood for camp fires as Jarrah - the men had said. They said it had been over 25 years since a bush fire, or any controlled fire had been through this area. My thought was that the local "Noongar" group of Aboriginal people would be shocked at the lack of "white man's" care of the land here. They never let it get so overgrown. Lightening will cause a major fire one day soon.
Walking today was easier, as much as mentally than just physically - I was in the mood! Diary for once is up-to-date!

DAY 26

Saturday 29th September- I took off from "Tom Road" campsite with a last minute thought, that if the weather held-up, and I could arrive before 1pm at "Boarding House" campsite, I might double-hut. That meant 22.9km in the morning and then 19.3km in the afternoon or arvo. What I didn't want to do was see how easy or hard the afternoon stage would be (viewing the hill contour lines or reading the route description), as that might have changed my plans. As it happened there were very steep ascents and equally steep descents - with plenty of Tiger snakes crossing my path - (I was moving as slowly as they were in the cool conditions.)
The morning started at 7.15am and as I reached "Boarding House" at 12.45pm, I took a half-hour break to write in the Log book and take some Orange Tang drink (2.5 mugs) and a quantity of glucose powder to give my muscles a further boost. Tang has some glucose in already, so I was overdoing it a little for my PB (Personal Best) day of distance walking, with a pack now weighing around 22kg. with extra water on board.
At .5.30pm I finally reached the "Bevis Hut" campsite just before it got dark at 6.15pm. My clothes were soaked in sweat and although I felt tired, I was not exhausted. I found four walkers (two couples) already in the hut, plus two "Volunteers" (volies) who were maintaining the local Track and huts. The Volies. gave me some fruit cake and a mug of tea, both really appreciated. They were all surprised to see me and immediately asked how difficult I had found the major hill which was about 60/70 degrees steep- I had almost walked upon all fours with my backpack as a saddle up that hill. It was almost funny that a Tiger snake came across the Track, noticing that I was labouring slowly, it crossed my path with neither of us changing speed! The snake was only 3 metres away and was not put off by my huffing and puffing. I just did not want to stop for anything!

DAY 27

Sunday 30th September - was an easier walking day. Surprisingly I was not stiff. Now going to "Beedelup" campsite a 19.7km walk, in which I overtook both the other couples that had started much earlier. Difficult to arrive late and start early as I had made no preparations the night before, so after talking to the "Volies" I did not get going until 8.30am. The other couples were slightly older and taking their time, as they were only going from Collie to Pemberton. I think it was John who only had this leg to do and then he had completed the whole Track in stages over several years.
At "Beedelup" campsite John and Jean produced a white wine cask bladder and Peter joined his wife (via a car on the road and then walking), and he had a bottle of red wine and very fresh bread, cheese and oranges. I enjoyed sharing both wines and the feast of food. A fresh orange is something to die for in the middle of the bush!

DAY 28

Monday 1st October - I set off at 6.50am by being pre-arranged with all my packing the night before - including filling up my water bladder with 2.5 litres of ice cold fresh rainwater from the hut rain tank.
I arrived at "Pemberton" after finding that I had an additional 4km Track re-alignment (total 27km) at 12.45pm. Plenty of time for a Guinness at the "Pemberton Hotel" and a roast lamb lunch. Because of my condition I went into the Public bar where the workers were dressed more like me. Then I took my smelly body and clothes down to the "Backpackers" or "YHA" booked in for two nights@ $24 per night. Writing this diary at 7.30pm back at the Hotel , having had the same meal and drinks again in a crowded hotel in the saloon bar. My clothes are freshly washed and so am I, plus the Internet service is FREE in the hostel with at least three terminals - unbelievable! Sent an individual email to Dean and read Ren's email. Phoned Ren and Luke and caught Luke watering my garden at London Street. Arranged to meet them on their Forrest tram journey at "Pemberton" on Wednesday 3rd at 10.30am. They arrive tomorrow around 4pm but are staying out of town.

Double-hutting

To do or not - that is the question. It is often knocked by those hikers that don't do more than one hut per day. That's not to say they wouldn't like to double-hut, but: 1) don't believe they are fit enough, 2) can't get up early in the morning, 3) carrying too heavier a pack, 4) too old, 5) too young, or many other self-beliefs.
Some non double-hutters say: 1) You cannot enjoy the bush when walking quickly, 2) You are overstressing your body, 3) You are taking risks through tiredness, 4) You might end up walking in the dark. 5) No chance of drying wet clothes, 6) Anti-social as you don't talk for long to other walkers on the Track, etc, etc.
Now lets talk about the positives and why I double-hutted: 1) Huts at times are too close together as I was fit and did not have a problem with hills, 2) I see double-hutting as a challenge, 3) For me it was what could I achieve as a PB (Personal Best) - mine was 42km and that is not going to change - in other words I am happy with that while carrying a heavy backpack in hilly country, 4) Some walkers have a time limitation through work or other commitments, 5) Some have flights to catch that are pre-paid and cannot change the dates, 6) Some are meeting people or trying to catch up with someone, or just want different hut company, 7) Some just want to share a hut with someone else rather than sleep alone again.and again. (once I got a hut to myself south of Pemberton I was keen NOT to double hut as I realised I could have many huts to myself - which I did - ten in total), 8) I could get a hot shower or T-Bone steak a day earlier!
To finish I suggest that if we all did the same things all the time, we would have nothing to talk about. Just the fact that you are on the Track demonstrates that you are different. Don't fall for the norm by knocking double-hutters or even triple hutting. Accept their journey the same as they accept yours!
I wrote these comments in a "hut journal" after listening to a discussion about double-hutting. I believe everyone gets on the Track for a different reason. Mine was not to break any records, but to make sure I did not have to re-walk any sections, because I had walked them too quickly and missed experiencing them fully.

DAY 29

Thursday 4th October - Set off for "Warren" campsite with the knowledge that Frank was also heading for the same hut. On arrival with my very solid load of 10kg extra of dehydrated food picked up at "Pemberton", which should take me all the way to "Walpole", I found Peter, Bruce and David already at the hut. They had been following me all the way from "Kalamunda", although Bruce joined them more recently. They are from all over the State of "Victoria" and are also heading for "Albany". Frank then arrived to say there were three women walking to the hut that he had overtaken.- Sally (mum), Sarah (daughter) and friend Debbie. There were eight of us in the hut that night at "Warren" campsite. It was good to have some female company.

DAY 30

Friday 5th October - The previous hut's occupants all met up again at Schafer. I arrived first as I felt in a "power walking mood". As I was hot and soaked in perspiration I went for a quick "skinny dip" in the cool dam water, right outside the front of the hut. Before the women arrived, three teachers came in to camp from the South. Some of them also went for a swim before the women arrived. With eleven in the hut we established that everyone had completed at least 550kms of the Track to date. Yabby catching (a mini species of freshwater crayfish or lobster) was attempted by some, while the teachers drank wine and made damper (bread). It was a beautiful setting and a very good night. I made scrambled eggs with salmon and had apples (re hydrated) with a chocolate pudding underneath for my third course - I had started with soup. Just about everyone concocted a really different dinner.

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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