Thursday, 7 November 2013

Australia: Bibbulmun Track Section 5 - Pemberton to Walpole

Day 40: Me on Mandalay
Me on Mandalay
Continuing my journey along the Bibbulmun Track with an 11 day section, from Pemberton, to the coast, via Northcliffe and the Pingurup Plains.


28/10/2013: Monday Day 32

Mikey and I saw Andrew off at the bus stop, and then went for breakfast; he would be missed. The day was relaxed; posted back some clothes and saved 900 grams, collected my food and shopped for extras, did some washing. Mikey had to go to the hospital after his blister began to leak, and they patched him up well, he needs to get the dressing changed when we get to Northcliffe in 3 days time.

29/10/2013: Tuesday Day 33

Away at 6am, we were taking it easy to ensure Mikey didn't aggravate his popped blister. Despite this we made good time.

First stop was The Gloucester Tree, just outside Pemberton. This is a fire watchtower you can climb, I didn't as it looked too much a task for someone with a fear of heights. Besides, we had somewhere to be.

Day 33: Karri Trees near Pemberton
Karri near Pemberton
Day 33: No way am I going up there!
The Gloucester Tree
We took a side trip to The Cascades, a series of rocky falls on the Warren River.

Day 33: The Cascades
The Cascades
Day 33: The Cascades
The Cascades
Day 33: Mikey and The Cascades
Mikey and The Cascades
Day 33: Bridge over Lefroy Brook
Bridge over Lefroy Brook
Day 33: Mikey on track
Mikey on Track
The remainder was a succession of small climbs, along the river. Mikey was spooked by a couple of snakes, including one very big Dugite. He also spotted an impressive moth dead on the track.

Day 33: Dead moth
Dead moth
Day 33: Perfect day
Perfect day
Day 33: skirting the field
Skirting the field
We were at Warren Campsite at just gone midday. We joined Ann, a 64 year old Australian from Perth who was also End to Ending, and had arrived in Pemberton the day before.

Day 33: Warren Campsite
Warren Shelter
Day 33: Z Packs Hexamid Solo
ZPacks Hexaid Solo
Day 33: My Z Packs Hexamd Solo
ZPacks Hexamid Solo
Day 33: Warren Shelter Fireplace
Warren Shelter Fireplace
A lazy afternoon spent, with the luxury of a bit of a siesta, it's not all hard work on the Bibb!

30/10/2013: Wednesday Day 34

Day 34: Sunrise at Warren
Sunrise at Warren
Day 34: Shelter n sunshine
Warren Shelter
Day 34: Karri near camp
Karri near camp
Slept very soundly in my tent, once I had got used to the kangaroos moving around nearby, and woke at 4:30am to a sunrise that just told you it was going to be a hot one today. We were on our way by just past six, and it proved to be a tougher day than expected.

Day 34: Me crossing bridge
River Road Bridge
Day 34: River Road Bridge
River Road Bridge
Once over River Road Bridge, it was a series of hills in dense foliage along the Warren River. I have to say the river sections are not my favourite; you rarely see the river, or get a view worthy of a photograph, and I always wish they were done with. Today, the first 11km was just this!

Day 34: Warren River
Warren River
Day 34: Warren River
Warren River
Day 34: Me by Warren River
Me by Warren River
Day 34: Mikey by Warren River
Mikey by Warren River
I left Mikey at McAlpine Road, he was out of sorts and wanted a power nap. This gave me the opportunity to speed up. We were away from the river now and the forest opened up. There were still the countless fallen trees to negotiate, but rather that than a vista of nothing.

Day 34: Track scene
Track scene
At Wheatley Coast Road, the track meanders around some private property, and some open paddocks, always a delight to see!

Day 34: Wheatley Coast Road
Wheatley Coast Road
Day 34: Last hill before camp (hopefully)
Last hill before camp
Day 34: Approaching a clearing.
Approaching a clearing
Day 34: Wildflowers no.1
Wildflower
Day 34: Still following the perimeter of the field
Following the perimeter of the field
Day 34: Brook Road
Brook Road
Eventually, the track reaches a small private reservoir, and the Schafer Campsite is situated on its banks. I arrived just after midday.

I met Ann there, just finishing her lunch and about to tackle the next 14km into Northcliffe. Not for me, though, the 33 degree heat was too much to walk in.The beauty of this campsite is there is a roped off area for swimming in the reservoir. I took the opportunity to cool off.

Day 34: Schafer Shelter
Schafer Shelter
Reservoir with swimming area by Schafer
Reservoir with swimming area by Schafer
Mikey arrived an hour or so later, and the rest of the day was quiet as we escaped the heat. Late afternoon, the temperatures triggered an explosion of flying termites. They were everywhere, even covered the surface of the lake and, coupled with the flies, made for an irritating evening meal. Eventually, all I could do was retire to my tent to escape the worst of it.

31/10/2013: Thursday Day 35

Up at 5am, the termite onslaught had abated; it must have been one of those 24 hour things. We saw the remains of them all the way to Northcliffe, 15km away.

Day 35: Karri Hill Road
Karri Hill Road
Day 35: Flood plain
Flood plain
Day 35: Wildflowers no.1
Wildflower
Day 35: Remains of yesterday's flying termite swarm
Remains of yesterday's flying termite swarm

Today was the easiest day of the whole journey, so far. Following the Karri Hill Road, and then passing through Jane National Park.

Day 35: Yubari "Road"
Yubari "Road"
Day 35: The flies are up!
The flies are up!
Day 35: Unwelcome passengers
Unwelcome passengers
Day 35: me at the foot of a Karri
me at the foot of a Karri
Day 35: Small reservoir by Smith Road
Small reservoir by Smith Road
We then came to some open farmland as the track skirts a few properties, and we had an encounter with some cattle, which took me back to walking in the UK.

Day 35: negotiating cattle
Negotiating cattle

The final section was through Northcliffe Forest Park, where there was some evidence of controlled burning.

Day 35: Evidence of burning in Northcliffe Forest Park
Evidence of burning in Northcliffe Forest Park
Day 35: Northcliffe Forest Park
Northcliffe Forest Park
Day 35: Boardwalk near Northcliffe
Boardwalk near Northcliffe
Day 35: Wildflowers no.4
Wildflower
On the edge of town, we reached a sign that said 335km to Albany; almost a third of the way left to go now.

Day 35: Northcliffe and a third of the way to go!
Northcliffe and a third of the way to go!
We booked into the Bibbulmun Break Motel. The owners, Alan and Glenda, are two of the nicest people you could hope to run accommodation; if you are ever this way, stay here!

We got Mikey's foot redressed at the local nurse point, checked conditions for the track to Walpole, and then a small matter of finding room in my rucksack for eight days worth of food!

01/11/2013: Friday Day 36

A very late start for us, leaving the Bibbulmun Break Motel and rejoining the track, under threat of drizzle, along the disused tramway and then onto the Wheatley Coast Road for a short section. We passed a German S2N E2E who told us the Pingarup Plains were still wet, and knee deep in places, which would pose a problem for Mikey's foot.

The terrain was noticeably flatter than other days, and the ground was sandy, indicating we were getting closer to the coast, despite being 3 days away from reaching it.

Day 36: Plenty of water along the Wheatley Coast Road
Plenty of water along the Wheatley Coast Road
Day 36: Gardner River crossing
Gardner River crossing
Day 36: and another crossing of the Gardner
Another crossing of the Gardner
Day 36: Gardner River
Gardner River
Day 36: Mikey on Bridge over Gardner
Mikey on bridge over the Gardner
Day 36: Laws Track
Laws Track
I noticed that Mikey was slower today, and by midday, and with 6km to go, he told me he'd see me at the camp, and so I went ahead.

I was into Gardner Shelter by 1:45pm, and there were two Aussies; Ken and Daniel setting up. They had come seven days from Walpole and, when Mikey had arrived, gave clearer details on where we should expect to get our feet wet. It all seemed acheivable and put my mind at rest.

Day 36: Gardner Shelter
Gardner Shelter
Day 36: Drying Boots
Drying boots out

02/11/2013: Saturday Day 37

It had been a hot topic of conversation along the track since Kalamunda, and now the time to tackle the Pingarup Plains had arrived. When I started all those weeks back, there was a diversion from Gardner to Dog Pool due to heavy flooding and that had been lifted only a couple of weeks ago, so it was expected that we may have to do some wading.

Half an hour out of the camp, I encountered a tiger snake sat in the middle of the track. Two more steps and I may have been hitting the SOS button on my SPOT Tracker! The snake was definitely dozy, and obliged us with a perfect photo opportunity, motionless to the point where we thought he was dead.
Day 37: Tiger Snake!!
Tiger Snake!!
We skirted round him, and threw a twig to coax him off the path, and nothing until I stepped forward from behind him and he made his way into the undergrowth. A highlight of the trip!

The track was mostly sand, and I found that difficult going; in my thoughts were the long distances of beach and dune walking to be done and that was a little depressing. Nothing for it but to snap out of it, and I cleared my head by upping my pace to prove I could deal with it.

Day 37: Wildflowers no.2
Wildflowers
Day 37: Track starts to get to be a slog in the sand.
Track starts to become a slog in the sand
Day 37: Wildflowers no.2
Wildflowers
We finally arrived at some waterlogged sections and each one we managed to bushwack around, albeit with some nimble footwork.

Day 37: Track still inundated
Track still waterlogged
Day 37: Gardner near Chesapeake Road
Gardner River near Chesapeake Road
Day 37: Another soggy section to bushwhack around
Another soggy section to bushwhack around
By the time we reached the edge of an old growth Karri forest, we realised we had got through to Lake Maringup campsite without getting our feet wet. A good achievement.

Day 37: Wildflowers no.3
Wildflower
Day 37: Lake Road
Lake Road
Day 37: Karri near Lake Maringup
Karri near Lake Maringup
Day 37: Lake Road near Lake Maringup
Lake Road near Lake Maringup
Day 37: Lake Maringup
Lake Maringup
Day 37: Large fallen Karri on the way out
Large fallen Karri
We were in camp by 11:15am, a short day but tomorrow would be a long one. Lake Maringup is the largest freshwater lake in the south west and a chill breeze was blowing into the shelter, nestled on its shores. If it didn't abate, it was going to make for a cold night. On the plus side, it would keep the mozzies away!

The evening was cold, and I managed to set my tent up in the shelter for an extra layer, although little protection if one of the Karri's decided to fall. I don't know when the wind died down, I had drifted off long before then.

03/11/2013: Sunday Day 38

Day 38: Sunrise over Lake Maringup
Sunrise over Lake Maringup
Day 38: Sunrise over Lake Maringup
Sunrise over Lake Maringup
Day 38: Shelter, sunrise
Maringup Shelter

5am up to see the sunrise over Lake Maringup, and we were away by 6:25am. We easily negotiated our way through the massive fallen Karri just outside camp, and soon came to the first of many water hazards. This was the biggest obstacle Ken had told us about. Mikey, the exuberence of youth, managed to bushwhack a way round it, whereas I was never that agile, and donned my sandals and waded the fifty metres through cold, but very refreshing water.

After this, we had no such problems with the other pools. Duckboards helped, but others just took some plain old footwork around the edges.

Day 38: Through the Karri
Through the Karri
Day 38: More wet patches to wade or avoid
More wet patches to wade or avoid
Day 38: Thankfully most of the wet had a drier edge
Thankfully, most of the wet had a drier edge
Day 38: Some had walkways!
Some had walkways
Day 38: Some need a spot of bushwhacking
Some called for bushwhacking
Day 38: Still encountering the remains of the flood.
Still remnants of the flood were encountered
Day 38: The walkways were welcome!
Walkways are welcome
This section took us through some old burnt Karri forest where the ground was littered with fallen branches, and even concealed the odd Tiger Snake, but this one was far less confident than the one yesterday.

By 9:45am, we were at Chesapeake Road, and 9km done, with the sun blazing, so took a short break. Next up was a long 7.9km to Deeside Coast Road, along an old overgrown track that was beginning to dry. We came out of forest and up and over a plain where the tallest trees were the blackbutts.

Day 38: Grass Tree?
Grass Tree
Day 38: Grass Trees
Grass Trees
After Deeside Coast Road, it was a muddy traipse over boggy ground that had started to see the first wildflowers as the water receded.

Day 38: Mikey sheltering from the sun
Miey sheltering from the sun at Deeside Coast Road
Day 38: Wildflowers no.1
Wildflowers
Day 38: crossing Maringup Creek floodplain
Maringup Creek floodplain
We eventually reached Dog Road, and it was a tired 55 minute slog along the sandy track to Dog Pool Campsite, arriving just before 1pm. A lovely shady spot with the Shannon River next to it, and a perfect place to cool off my sore feet and have a refreshing wash. This is also the last place on the track where we can have a camp fire.

Day 38: Dog Pool Shelter
Dog Pool Shelter
Day 38: Dog Pool
Dog Pool
Day 38: Dog Pool
Dog Pool
I think Mikey is keen to get further along the track, with some beach camping in mind, but he liked the hut and decided to stay. I was pleased because I'd like to be with him through the remaining wet sections just to make sure his healing blister is okay; afterwards, he can race ahead.

The afternoon and evening was dogged by flies, including the big March Flies that love to bite! I had to forget using the toilet and dinner was spent in my tent.

That night, we had some spots of rain, but far off there was a fair old storm going. It wasn't until the thunder and lightning got closer, about 3am, that I abandoned my tent for the relative safety of the hut. To cap my restless night, some rodent had managed to get into my food again, despite it being hung up!

04/11/2013: Monday Day 39

We naturally woke up about 5:30am, and set about breaking camp. Today was humid, and my tiredness didn't help. Each step in the heat, on the sandy Marion Road, then Pingarup Road, was a real effort! Just when you think it couldn't get worse, the flies arrive!

Day 39: Leaving Dog Pool
Leaving Dog Pool
Day 39: Following Marron Road
Following Marron Road
Day 39: Marron Road, Pingarup Plains
Marron Road, Pingerup Plains
Day 39: Across the plains
Across the plains
This section was interpersed with a couple of promising showers, but not the deluge that we hoped for to both cool us and get rid of the damn flies!

Day 39: Wildflowers no.2
Wildflowers
Across the plains we went, I gathered speed to get through this section without shade.

Day 39: Mount Chance getting close
Mount Chance getting close
Finally reached Mount Chance Shelter at 11:45am. I wandered down to look at the camp sites and immediately disturbed a Tiger Snake, so chose to set up my tent next to the shelter again. Nestled below a granite dome, we sat back in the shade of the hut and tried our best to fend off the flies for the afternoon.

Day 39: Mount Chance views
View from Mount Chance
Day 39: Hazy sunshine but thunder in the distance
Hazy sunshine, but thunder in the distance
Day 39: Mount Chance Shelter
Mount Chance Shelter
I need this section over with. I'm tired and ready for a rest, but Walpole is still 4 days away. I am finding walking on sand tough, and the prospect of the coast to come is daunting; will the legs hold out? The best we can hope for is a change in the weather, and a nice sea breeze would be ideal.

05/11/2013: Tuesday Day 40

Morning arrived and the temperature had dropped significantly. So much that halfway through the morning I was considering double hutting to get to the ocean.

Day 40: Mount Pingerup, but we gave it a miss
Mount Pingerup
Day 40: Still crossing the plains
Still crossing the plains
Day 40: Flies
Flies
Day 40: Broke Inlet Road
Broke Inlet Road
Day 40: Woolbales Shelter for lunch
Woolbales Shelter for lunch
The journey across the Pingarup was muddy but uneventful, and we were at Woolbales Shelter by gone midday. A quick cook up of a meal and then we were on our way again at 1pm. The path was saturated and muddy, but, as the sun came out and changed the day, we had pockets of forest for shade and there were interesting granite outcrops to see, including Watermelon Rock.

Day 40: Melon Rock
Watermelon Rock
Day 40: Granite
Granite
Day 40: A rare section of forest today.
A rare section of forest
Day 40: Broke Inlet
Broke Inlet
Day 40: view from one of the granite outcrops
View from one of the granite outcrops
Then the way became sandier, and we were into the dunes. I spotted a Dugite and a couple of emus as we approached the coast. Every now and then we were offered glimpses of Chatham Island, but no real view of the ocean behind the expansive dunes.

Day 40: The ocean is close.
The ocean is close
Day 40: Wildflowers no.1
Wildflower
Then the track diverts to the scenic lookout and we get a spectacular vista of Mandalay Beach and the much awaited Southern Ocean!

Day 40: path to the scenic lookout
Path to the scenic lookout
Day 40: The Southern Ocean
The Southern Ocean
Day 40: View above Mandalay Beach
View over Mandalay Beach
We made our way down to the car park and then the path to the beach. Here, I said good bye to Mikey, as he was keen to camp here, whilst I wanted to continue to Long Point, 6km away. It was 3:45pm, and I reckoned that was more than enough time to get there.

Day 40: Mandalay Beach sign
Mandalay Beach sign
Day 40: Mandalay Beach
Mandalay Beach
Day 40: Mandalay Beach
Mandalay Beach
Day 40: Me on Mandalay
Me on Mandalay
The beach was difficult to walk on, the extra weight sending your feet deeper into the sand. I past a fisherman who took my photo for me and said there were a few others at the hut, if the tracks heading up into the dunes were anything to go by.

And so, up onto the dunes. A tough first hour getting up onto the top, frustrating two steps forward, one step back, but eventually some steps simplified the ordeal. Thankfully, the temperature was dropping as the sun started to set, and the task seemed almost complete.

Day 40: Off the beach and tackling the dunes
Off the beach and tackling the dunes
Day 40: Wildflowers no.2
Still plenty of wildflowers to see
Day 40: Wildflowers no.3
Wildflowers
Day 40: Long Point
Long Point
Day 40: Wildflowers no.4
Wildflowers
Day 40: along the cliff tops
Along the cliff tops
Day 40: Waugal near Long Point
Waugal near Long Point
I spotted countless roos in the bushes on the walk into the shelter, and arrival before 6pm justified my decision to double hut. I'd now be in Walpole a day earlier.

Day 40: Early evening, the roos are waking
Early evening, the roos are waking
Day 40: Kangaroo close up
Kangaroo close up
Day 40: another roo investigates
Another roo investigates
Day 40: I disturb another on the track
I disturb another one on the track
In the hut were Boots and Noddy, and their friend Jessie. Boots and Noddy have been End to Ending since the 19th September and I have seen their entries in the log books since Dwellingup; finally I had caught up with them!

A half hour later, Mikey rocked in. He'd changed his mind, and wisely too because it would have been a horrible night on the beach, as the evening clouded over and the rain came in.

06/11/2013: Wednesday Day 41

A mere 12km today, so no hurry, especially as it was raining still with no sign of a let up. Jessie, Boots and Noddy set off about 7am, and just as we were about too leave the rain got harder so we sat back down, to wait it out a little longer.

Day 41: Long Point Shelter
Long Point Shelter
Half hour later, we left. The dunes were arduous, but the rain had hardened the sand and made it a little easier. The short shrubs and bushes soaked the legs, though, and the boots were inundated.

Day 41: an overgrown and wet trail this morning
an overgrown and wet trail this morning
Day 41: watching out for snakes
Watching out for snakes!
Day 41: some way to go yet.
Some way to go yet
Mikey came across a Dugite and when I caught him up we took photos and had to decide how to get round it. Mikey banged his Gandalf stick and it reared up, before eventually sloping off, but it confirmed that future snake stand offs were going to prove tricky!

Day 41: Seriously stroppy Dugite
Seriously stroppy Dugite
Once we joined the Nuyts Wilderness Trail, we wrung out our socks, then the going was easier. We came into a forest with the first Tingle trees.

Day 41: forest path
Forest path
Day 41: Crystal Brook
Crystal Brook
Day 41: Wildflowers no.1
Wildflower

Across the Deep River via a suspension bridge, then up to Mount Clare, a steep 180 metre climb through more magical Tingle and Karri trees, we arrived at the shelter at a quarter past twelve.

Day 41: Mikey on Deep River suspension bridge
Mikey on Deep River Suspension Bridge
Day 41: Me on the suspension bridge
Me on the suspension bridge
Day 41: Fine examples of Karri
Fine examples of Karri
No double hutting today. Changed into dry clothes, the sun was not going to appear so very little chance of getting any of the walking gear dry by tomorrow; no matter, an easy 10km into Walpole and should be in time for breakfast!

About half two, David, a S2N E2E'r arrived from Walpole. He'd come from Albany in 7 days! I won't be attempting that but good to know I am almost at the finish line!

07/11/2013: Thursday Day 42

Day 42: Mount Clare Shelter
Mount Clare Shelter

We were all up at 5am, and very keen to get going, despite the rain. By the time we started off, it had stopped and the walk was a simple and quick 10km into Walpole, arriving in town by 8:30am.

Day 42: Tingle Tree
Tingle Tree
Day 42:  Boots and Noddy in front
Boots and Noddy in front
Day 42: Bibbulmun Sign
Bibbulmun sign
Day 42: Walpole River
Walpole River
Day 42: Paperbarks on the edge of Walpole Inlet
Paperbarks on the edge of Walpole Inlet
First stop was the Dine-in Cafe for Bacon and Eggs, then we all parted ways for our respective accommodation; Me at the Walpole Lodge, Mikey with a mate of a mate, Boots and Noddy at the YHA, whilst Jessie's adventure on the Bibb was at an end. No doubt, those of us still End to Ending would meet up again further down the track.

To be continued..