The Bibbulmun: day ten – Chadoora -> Dwellingup

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Today got up early (5:45am) and went about leaving camp early. Although I took the time to have HOT porridge for once, as a treat, as I was coming into TOWN and would be able to restock gas. Made a little bragging comment about how I had gas to burn now, and then Mr Deer commented to a fellow hiker who was based in Dwellingup ‘Can you buy gas in town?’. WTF. What if there’s no gas?

Was a beautiful 20km into Dwell. Arrived in town about 12 noon – went to post office first thing and got rid of my boots (finally. Posted them to mum and dad) then to the Blue Wren café – had steak burger with chips and soy latte (Bonsoy! So hip!). Very soon after had to poop real bad – tired of upset tummy. It was ok the last couple of days but obviously couldn’t deal with real food or coffee. An old guy in the café saw me sitting at the table alone, with my pack, and started a conversation. He asked if I was doing the Bibb and told me about when he did it with his wife. He tried to buy me a coffee but I’d just shit so much I felt sick and had to decline. Disappointing. Hard to turn down a free coffee. Also he was nice.

Went home to my accommodation for the night, at Lisa’s, dropped my back and went back into town – I went past Mr Deer and Michael and John – Mr Deer carrying my pink scrap of material which was acting as my towel, which I’d left hanging up to dry in the hut :/ He had it tied to the outside of a bag, as he knew it was mine but wasn’t sure if it was my ‘pee rag’. I assured him it wasn’t. Although nice of him to collect it for me if he thought there was a chance that it was covered in wee. I said, ‘what am I going to do when you and Eddie are not walking behind me picking up my trail of stuff I leave behind??’

Asked for gas at the IGA – the guy tells me it’s usually in stock but today happens to be a late delivery. Tiny towns. Sigh. Went to the post office/camping shop, no, they don’t carry that type of gas. Never have. (Said in a more aggressive manner than necessary, in  my opinion!). Back to Lisa’s for a shower, washed my clothes (borrowed some of her son’s clothes while they dried), had an afternoon lie down in a real bed. Very nice. She had left out a towel and small soap etc on the bed for me. So thoughtful.

She made beautiful fresh vegan food and we talked, and drank tea. Feeling sick every time I ate food though – reaction to eating real food again or just upset tummy being even more upset? Either way is draining. Went to bed quite late what with all the eating (even though felt sick, had to fill up on beautiful raw carrot cake while it’s available) and talking. Was nice to be comfortable and warm and fed. What luxuries we have in our normal lives!

The Bibbulmun: day nine – White Horse Wells -> Mt Wells -> Chadoora

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

My god. I am tired. 31 ish km. Did the double. Feet are throbbing – I haven’t taken off my socks yet to look at them. Wait, I just did. They are dirty as fuck. Saw several kangaroos today – after all the wallabies, finally some decent sized critters! Walked slower today and with smaller steps, trying to place my feet more softly to not hurt them so much – instead of slapping them down like lumps of playdough. They weren’t too sore by the time I got to Mt Wells around 10:15am. Left at 6:40am after a 5:30am wake up. Was so cold I walked in my gloves and beanie for about an hour, then my raincoat for a couple of hours even though no rain. Just to keep warm.

A section of the track this morning is from the original alignment of the track, from the 70’s. The yellow markers are really faded, and are really high up! I mentioned it to the guys when I got to Mt Wells and stopped for lunch, and one of them said ‘Yeah, I was wondering why they went to the effort to put them so high. Like, did they climb up there?’ and I was like ‘Um….they put them at eye level and then the tree just grew…’ haha. Numpsy. It was cool to imagine what the bush would have been like, and what the people who were in the bush were like, that long ago. And wondering how many people have walked the track during that time…

It turns out even though I was planning to hike two more nights, I actually only brought enough dinner for tonight. So that’s lucky! Otherwise I would have been hungry tomorrow night. I had some thoughts – about a couple of friends who complain about the same general story, over and over, in different contexts. Thought how tired I am/was of hearing the same story from them; but then how tired I am of my own repetitive stories.  Like the one of me being sick/broken/not good enough. They’re not serving me, and I want to drop them out here in the bush and leave them here. Bush has enough space to absorb my stories without being bothered by them. Practiced breathing in, then breathing out my stories and letting them go, as I walked.

I’m so tired. Want to sleep. Only 4:45pm. Also at one point today I thought I heard a kind of singing voice, like ‘yoohoo!’ like an old grandpa might call out to you as you walked past. I looked around, and saw no one. I heard it again and realised it was the tree branches moving against each other making that noise! I saw a reference tree (which was marked in the guidebook) as I looked around which I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed (CWsomething). I figured the bush was singing to me as encouragement and to point out how far I’d come. Thank you bush. Thank you feet.

The Bibbulmun: day eight – Gringer Creek -> White Horse Wells

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Another difficult/little bit shitty day. Just so much pain. Mr Deer’s friends came into the hut last night which was fine – they cooked amazing food and gave us some. (Sweet potato cooked in foil on fire, avo, sour cream, tin corn. Amazing). They had a battery powered ‘ceiling light’ on though and I noticed I wanted to go to bed so much later! 8pm haha. Amazing the difference a bit of light makes – just instantly disrupts the circadian rhythm. I slept OK. It rained. Achilles so so sore starting out. Put rolled up TP under heel as a heel lift/wedge which helped. New shoes maybe a bit better but not solving all problems. It’s already so aggravated. And now have to carry heaving fucking boots (around 1kg altogether).

Got about 3km into morning’s (painful) walk and realized one of my boots had fallen off from where I had tied it to my pack. As I was tying them on, I literally thought about whether or not they could fall off. And I thought, well, if they do fall off, they’re heavy enough that I’ll definitely hear them. Obviously I didn’t. FML. Just stood there in the middle of the track, bent over, with my head resting on my sticks, not sure whether to cry, go back, leave them behind. None of the options were appealing. I finally decided to suck it up and turn around (sans tears). I turned back and only went about 100m when Eddie appeared on side of Albany Highway (I’d left before him this morning). ‘I’ve lost one of my fucking boots!’ I greet him with. ‘No you haven’t’ he says – and pulls my boot out from underneath his pack cover. He saw it and picked it up. Bless him. (After the last thing I dropped which he walked past haha). I didn’t walk with him as he was legging it to double or maybe triple.

I felt good going up the hill (it’s written about in the guidebook as kind of, warning, very hard hill), went the extra little bit to the top of Boonerring – was windy and a bit rainy though so didn’t stay long – would probably be a nice view on a good day. There were a couple of burned out sections today where I nearly got lost. All the ground cover was gone so it was really hard to see the track. And lots of markers were missing. There was a boot cleaning station that was just black and burned. Just a scorched empty tin box in the middle of the bush. They had actually put up coloured tape to mark the track but it took me a really long time to realise that the track is actually what was being marked. I thought it was related to something else. D’oh.

Left foot joints also very sore today, as well as left toe. Carrying boots plus restock of food, of which I have way too much. Eddie did a shake down of my food bag yesterday and chucked out some peanut butter (1 and a ½ jars!), coffee, gatorade powder and some soy milk powder. Gave it all to willing recipients. Have spent my time since I arrived here at this hut just eating to try and get through some of it so it’s not so heavy tomorrow. Couldn’t bring myself to throw out the stuff I slaved over making – almond butter, granola, chocolate slab…but I’m fucking sick of it anyway. May bury it.

Also my left hip was hurting today, a first. Not sure if actual hip pain or maybe sciatic. Took about 5 km for Achilles to warm up and stop burning – right at tendon/bone junction. Would have liked to double today but left camp too late and too sore. Did a solid poo this arvo! And didn’t have to stop to poo all day for first time. Now I feel a bit crampy and farty though. One or the fucking other eh. It’s super fucking cold. Tony is here too. We’re both bummed about sore feet holding us back. He’s got really bad blisters. We’re both lying down inside our sleeping bags, at 3pm. No other way to keep warm.

Have to keep stopping myself from jumping ahead with track planning and just focusing on now, this step, this section. It’s tempting to start planning maybe I’ll do a double here, maybe I’ll separate this planned double into two singles. But it’s so hard to predict how my body will feel. Is it stupid to push myself to do a 30km double tomorrow just to afford a rest day in Dwellingup? When I could single instead and then maybe body would need less rest? Who knows.

The Bibbulmun: day seven – Nerang -> Gringer Creek

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

I’m back lying on my bed in camp, after fish and chips and salad (with no salad actually served) at 3ways roadhouse, North Bannister. Also got new shoes from Nick (what a bro!) so we’ll see if that helps. Had a $10 shower out the back of the roadhouse – the shower head was duct taped to the wall, door needed to be wedged closed with a broom stick, dead blowie or two on the floor of the (broken tiled) shower cubicle…but was so good. Washed my pants, shirt, sock and undies, mouthguard, mooncup, self – with hot water and soap! Amazing!

I was taking photos this morning but it can’t capture the sunrise of a misty morning. All the water droplets falling from the trees as sun glints on them, the cute streams trickling by. So much quiet and serenity. Have been mostly walking alone but did yesterday from Mt Cooke peak to Nerang with Eddie, which was actually nice. Set off before the boys this morning but they caught up after I stopped to poop (again) (sigh). Walked the rest with them, although Eddie went ahead. Listened to some Harry* as I couldn’t stomach the boring flat walk. I’m discovering I really like big hills/peaks but don’t do well at all on the boring flat ‘easy’ parts.

I’m a bit worried about my left big toe, it’s throbbing under the nail and it feels hot. Not a good sign. Although we did 16.5km to get here this morning (in 3.5h!) and 1.3km to roadhouse and then back, chilling here all arvo feels like a rest. Have taken anti-inflammatories so hopefully it settles my toe. And achilles. I received a box of food here at the roadhouse, which Dad dropped down for me when he was on his way down to Albany after dropping me off. Now I have way too much food. Need to eat heaps and offload some.

In general I haven’t been feeling depressed so that’s cool. Maybe I just need to live in the bush? Have good internet here so I posted an instapic – then I had a tiny scroll for the first time and I was like, revulsed (?). Disgusted. Just gross. All just seemed so fake and stupid and pointless and try hard.

*Harry Potter Audiobook

The Bibbulmun: day six – Monadnocks -> Mt Cooke -> Nerang

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Far out. So pissed off with the oldies last night. They were unprepared to the point of irresponsible. No sleeping bag (they had a doona/blanket each, sheets, etc – but the poor old dude had brought a doona that was too short, so he has to sleep curled up in the foetal position to stay warm and is thus sleeping really badly…they also had no tent, I heard the story about how they got lost one night a few nights back – someone who had passed them during the day and knew they were meant to be arriving at the next hut got worried when they never rocked up and called search and rescue. Who flew around in a helicopter looking for them (didn’t find them). But they found their way back to the track when it got light the next morning.  They are carrying 27kg each…I’m sort of impressed. Except that, part of that 27kg was a radio which the guy used to listen to the footy…until 8:30pm when I asked him to turn it off. I’d already gone to sleep around 7 with some Harry* in my ears to drown out the “…And Dickhead passes to the other Dickhead and he goes for a kick of some sort and ahhhhhhh he misses!…”and woken up again and it was still blaring. I swear he was asleep. He was snoring! I asked him to turn it off at 8:30 – practically midnight! Hiker midnight, anyway – and he didn’t answer. I asked again and then his wife woke him up and was like ‘Turn off your game!’. Geez. And then the South Africans they were walking with were kind of weird and non-talkative. So I wasn’t going to double on my original walking schedule, but then I was like, I don’t want to spend another night with them! So a double it was. Also when I did the 1st two peaks and got to the first hut, I still had energy, which was another reason to do the double.

Before Mt Cooke I had a wee break. Went to grab toilet paper from it’s usual spot in the front mesh pocket of my bag. Not there. Weird, it must be in the zipped pocket. Not there. Toilet paper gone. Tummy still unreliable. Disaster.
I realise it must have fallen out when I was hefting my pack around, trying to reposition it more comfortably on my shoulders and hips. Fuck. Luckily, for this wee break at least, I have some old used tissues in my jacket pocket. Linton is always ripping on me for keeping old tissues in my pocket, but this time I was like ah hah! I showed you! Eddie caught up to me at Mt Cooke hut, and I asked – ‘Did you see anything on the track along your way, per chance?’ He said, ‘what do you mean?’ ‘I’ve lost my TP,’ I say. ‘Did you see it?’ ‘Oh.’ he says. ‘Yeah, I did see that.’ My face betrays my excitement for a minute before he says ‘I walked past it.’ 🙁 . He softens the blow of my TP loss by giving me a few spare baby wipes to get me through to tomorrow, when I have a restock at the road house anyway.

I climbed over Mt Vincent, Mt Cuthbert and Mt Cooke. I got to the top of the second peak and called Linton and mum re: my Achilles. Which was REALLY SORE! I realized I had forgotten to pack the heel lift that the physio gave me as he said it might help. I asked mum to post it but she wasn’t sure it’d arrive in time (for Nick to bring it down). I asked Linton to post my old runners last night but then by today I wasn’t sure it was a good idea – could I make to the town where he could post them to? I called him back and told him not to bother. But I couldn’t keep walking with my achilles this sore.

By the time I got to the third peak I tried a new tack. I got sat on a little rock with some signal. Googled shops in Perth that sell Vivo Barefoot shoes (as they are the only brand I know that I can wear new out of the box without getting a blister (except for the fucking hiking boots that I am currently wearing). Bought a pair of trail runners over the phone with my credit card. Low ankle, which is not awesome for sticks and stone etc but can’t deal with the pressure on the back of my ankles. Rang little bro and was like ‘Ehhhhh bro! How about a road trip?!!’ He agreed to go pick them up from the shop the next day and deliver them to me at North Bannister tomorrow. What a good bro! 

Spent the last 10km walking with Eddie and chatting about life. Was cool. He did a good part of the Bibb last year – got to Denmark but then ran out of money and time to finish it off. He is a hiking machine. Was also good because while I really enjoyed the walk up and down the peaks, the last 10km were flat and boring along old fire roads and the like. Now here at the shelter along with Julian (who I met the week before I left Perth in the Mountain Designs shop) who is also cool. Hiker life! Did 26km and three peaks so sore feet.. Too busy chatting with fellow hikers to write! Saw two wallabies today.

*Harry Potter Audiobook

The Bibbulmun: day five – Brookton -> Canning -> Monadnocks

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Fucking buggered. Don’t even feel like writing. Achilles more sore than ever today. Also feet sore. Didn’t have much Harry* last night, just went to sleep. Afraid of losing phone battery. Woke in the night with rain dusting my face – getting blown into the hut sideways. Had to move away from edge of hut. Amongst wind/rain, thought could hear low sort of murmuring/rumbling but wasn’t sure. Thought to self, it kind of sounds like someone…singing. Wasn’t sure if imagining things but Eddie confirmed it. (It was Tony, not Eddie). I noticed yesterday that Tony had out a half empty vodka bottle. I thought he must have picked up a bit of sauce from the person who picked up his sister that arvo, but he said no, this is what he was using for a drink bottle. GLASS?!  That is heavy as fuck, man. He doesn’t like drinking out of plastic. Lol. He was considering the wisdom of his choices though. It kept leaking in his bag.

Met Nick although he was late, I was starting to get worried – he pulled over, didn’t stop, went past me about 70m, u-turned, drove back on the other side of the road hanging my bag of stuff out the window yelling ‘come and get it cunt!’. Typical bro. I guess it was nice of him to drive all the way out to drop me stuff though, and pretty early in the morning. He also brought me a banana and a juice which was a pleasant change for the tastebuds. Got rid of my jumper and one or two other food items that were weighing me down.

Walk through to Canning fairly easy albeit big Achilles pain. For last hour I had to just constantly repeat a mantra, because if I didn’t focus my mind away from the pain it would pretty much stop me in my tracks – I move with ease. My body is strong, fluid and supple. I glide along track like an ice skater. I heal rapidly and effectively. I am soothed. The mantra didn’t manage to convince my mind that I actually moved so easily, but it helped to focus on something. Was burning pain, I thought I must be getting a blister but when I took off my shoe there was none. Then a long 16km to next hut. Passed two oldies and three others (foreign) who are also staying here tonight. Passed so many fields of charcoal on the way – controlled burn offs I think. Walked the last couple of km with Eddie, up the long last hill. That’s where we passed the oldies, when we were about 1.5km away. They were going slooooowwww. And carring SO much. And wearing pants and jackets rain gear. Even though it was sunny. I gave an encouraging smile and Eddie said ‘nearly there now!’ and her face lit up, she says ‘really?! how far?’ Eddie responded with ‘about 1.5 km’ and her face fell, she was so disappointed. He felt bad about getting her hopes up. Fucking tired and grumpy and sick of runny poos. Want normal poo and no more sore Achilles. Whinge whinge.

On the upside, some other Navy people who had been through here recently left a whole lot of ration packs in the hut, had chilly con carne for dinner! It was quite nice. Eddie ate the marmalade and mashed potato.

*Harry Potter audiobook

The Bibbulmun: day four – Beraking -> Mt Dale -> Brookton

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Best sleep yet. Went to sleep quite fast around 8pm, woke up a bit but not too bad. Crazy wind which woke me up in the night – wind and rain. Learned lesson four – if you aim for bottom bunk to avoid condensation drips, be warned that in high wind rain may get blown in to bottom…

Lesson five – if you try to mitigate this by covering yourself with tarp/tent, then water from body heat leaves sleeping bag, hits ‘waterproof’ tarp and condenses, settling onto sleeping bag and making you wetter that if you’d just had the rain. Damn. Trying to dry it with my body temp while I debate whether to wait and see if weather gets better or not.

….

At Mt Dale hut for ‘lunch’ at 10:15. Rain was on and off, not too bad. Only put raincoat on a few times and managed to figure a way of doing it without taking off pack. Either rain or patches of clear sky and sun – not hot so great walking weather. Reasonably strong cramps signal period arrived. Not awesome but ok. Was always going to happen at some point over the two months. Also even though I had a poo stop around 20 min after I started out this morning, just had another (in long drop). Not solid at all…hopefully not a trend? Maybe tummy still adjusting. Achilles sore this morning (didn’t stop me running last 100m to hut to avoid rain/putting on raincoat) so am going to try ‘scraping’ it with my spoon. Apparently it’s a thing that people do. Lots of stuff in this hut – spare food (out on table!! should be shut up in the box) loo paper, batteries, towel, salt, metal bowl, dish sponge – cut off a corner of this to take as I needed one! Thanks Universe. No Tony and Ash from last night’s hut although they were right behind me – they are either ‘geographically embarrassed’ or skipped lunch stop??

….

Turns out they skipped the stop – Tony wasn’t sure he could keep going if he stopped. Although it was, terrain wise, an easy walk from Mt Dale to here (Brookton) it was mentally hard. I was bored and my feet started hurting around 14km. What does that mean for tomorrows 27km?? Got here at 1:30pm, mostly spent the arvo reading ‘How far can you go’ by John Maclean. Inspo story of paraplegic Olympian walking again – how can I complain about 27km after that?? Sitting in hut with my sleeping clothes on, wrapped in my baggie*, eating hot cup of freeze dried veggies, TVP and rice vermicelli – wind and rain buffeting the hut – thinking, this is pretty freaking great. I really want for nothing else in this moment.

Meeting Nick tomorrow am. Restock (heavy pack). Might jettison 2nd jumper (mid layer) and keep just my down jacket. Tony here and in bed before 5pm, didn’t even eat his canned dinner of chickpeas and tuna. Eddie rocked in after a triple from Waaleigh. Period pain and Achilles pain – ready for a restorative sleep. Also, more ‘urgent’ poos this arvo – now afraid to fart. It’s a bit like having a touch of Bali belly. Tried to walk up hill here to get reception to call North Bannister to check if they have gas cans, but no dice. Hopefully all good with Nick, because no way of knowing otherwise…Now it’s time for Harry** and sleep.

*sleeping bag

**Harry Potter audio book

The Bibbulmum: day three – Helena -> Waaleigh -> Beraking

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Learned lesson three last night: set up on bottom bunk if possible – to avoid drips from condensation on tin roof. Couple of wet patches on sleeping baggie this morning :/

It was a good day! 9.6km through to Waaleigh – beautiful still morning, so much mist! Woke about 5:30, 6 am to noise of Navy guys starting fire. Pretty sure I woke myself up with farts at least twice during the night. Also heard one fart from the dudes too though. So we were kind of even. Woke at 10:30pm, felt like I needed to fuckin pee. Why is my filtering system not slowing down at night?? So hard to unzip bag, unzip mozzie net, climb off platform, put on shoes etc…But took the opportunity to get some long exposure night shots! So happy to be walking this morn, so misty and so pretty. The spiderwebs in the mist were like hundreds of little safety nets/trampolines…Loving it. Until about 45 min in. Must have eaten something unsavoury, which my body then rejected at high speed. Evacuate! Everyone (thing) out! For a second thought it was period pain. Then no less than 2 more poop stops! Feeling tired and sorry for self. Not sure – something I ate? Anyway. Up and down hills, glad to reach Waaleigh around 11:30. Got signal, made some texts. Onwards to next hut. (When got to Waaleigh, saw three x Navy dudes. Then E (from last night) walked in as I was packing up. Then a bro/sis arrived as I was walking out. So many people! So much for solitude…

Saw two emus – they ran a few steps, then one turned and started walking towards me. Not usual behavior for a wild animal – I felt worried there could be chicks nearby – could hear a rustle. Made a move and the emus ran away. Then a few moments later, they ran across the track in front of me. Feathers flying, so fluffy! Hammered through first 6 km to Beraking, energy from lunch. (Kept lunch in tummy! Yay! (so far)). Around 15km feet started to hurt. Last 2 km sore feet, boring track, impatient for hut. Calf muscles SORE today, like yesterday. Achilles a bit sore too.

Had a tiny pot of water and rag rinse when I got in – so good to not be sweaty. Didn’t wash nethers though as too worried to get fully naked with Navy’s around and the fact that anyone else could rock up…which they did. Not much privacy available at this camp. Will take wet TP later for important area scrub down. Must maintain some standards.

Campfire and chats with Navy’s tonight. They are doing this as a fundraising thing for work. They have all this old school gear and army ration food, they shared some with me. Wasn’t keen on the tinned cheese though.

The Bibbulmun: day two – Hewitt’s Hill -> Helena

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

Had to get up out of cozy bed 15 minutes after getting in as I remembered I left my charger outside. Then after about an hour of Harry Potter, I had to pee – which meant getting up and out into the cold again. Then I woke up many times, and eventually was like, it must like, 5 am by now right? 3 fucking am. Too early. Needed to pee again but couldn’t be bothered. Eventually at 4.30am I gave in to the pressure and got up to go to the loo. The air and the bush was so incredibly still. No movement, no noise.

Got back to sleep eventually and woke again to a crow at seven am. Got up and got out of there pretty swiftly. Bye to Bill and Byron. Fuck the noisy kids, no bye to them. Smooth cruise through to Ball Creek – over the weir, past the pub, stopped in a Perth Hills Discovery Centre – flushing toilet and paper towel wipe down of important areas, filled up drinks bottles. Three people at Ball Creek coming the other way, two grandies with their 10 year old grandson. Cute. She (track name Apples?) told me she felt ‘comfortable’ looking at me, that I looked prepared. This was reassuring to hear. They told me about a guy they’d seen the night/day before who was wearing dress shoes and carrying a briefcase. The trio were walking out to Mundaring weir after two nights out. I lay out my tent to dry in the sun (it was damp from condensation last night) and ate corn crackers with almond butter for lunch. Had a poop in the dunny (yay! Good timing body! One less hole I have to dig!) and off after a leisurely our hour break. The Grandies warned me of the uphill to come – and that it was. Around 4km mostly down, then around 5 km of mostly up. Hot, sunny, (1-3pm) and up – was a bit hard by the end. Feet sore but Achilles doing ok (!!) orthotics or tying boots looser? Not questioning. Just thankful. Texted a few people when I got a little reception. Glad to arrive at Helena, about 3pm. Amazing view. Started thinking might have hut to self! Settled down for more crackers and almond butter, reading paper someone else had left behind (only three days old). Then three Navy dudes rock in – I passed them earlier in the day as they were getting ready to start from Mundaring Pub. One of the first things one said to me was ‘That’s brave, doing this as a woman alone’. I hesitated about one second then said ‘I have a knife’. He replied ‘A good response. A good response.’

The dudes were making instant lattes, which my food and flavor deprived* nose picked up on. I made some comment like, Oh! I can smell it! (Actually, my head automatically whipped around to find the source of the delicious smell…) and they instantly offered me one. I tried to decline (caffeine! Milk powder!) but they insisted. (The literal words one yelled across the clearing to the other were ‘Matty! Get the lady a latte!’. I was like, where am I? In the middle of the bush or in a inner-city cafe?)The 2nd dude started boiling water for me so I just accepted. Don’t say no to free food. A 4th dude rocked up, travelling solo. I feel better that there’s two separate ‘groups’ here. So much for lone hut though.

Helena hut

Changed undies, rinsed out old pair. Lay them on a rock to dry a bit (shy of hanging them in sight – girly pink! Don’t want to invite thoughts of my nethers for Navy dudes!) Reminder to self: DON’T FORGET THEM! I can smell the old sweat on my whole body and it’s not pleasant. Sweaty sweaty. Shower (in many days time) will be great. Worried about farting tonight – had some huge TVP rumblers last night – safely secluded in my tent…Planning to double hut tomorrow and so are Navy guys. So will likely see them again…more reason not to embarrass self with giant farts…(Then again, good way to put them off?). Sun dropping down (5:10, temp starting to drop). Feel very happy. Also noticed that very happy to chat with strangers. Thinking that when nervous system is not being overwhelmed by stimulus, self is in better (more friendly, open) state. 5pm, dinner time. Freeze dried rice, TVP (uh oh), cashews, peas and corn, olive oil and parmesan.

Much later at night: Lesson no 2: don’t drink coffee at 3pm when you want to go bed at 7.

*Lol. It’s funny that I already felt I was food and flavour deprived at this point in the game.

The Bibbulmun: Day one – Kalamunda -> Hewitts Hill

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal.

The view straight down the hill – don’t go this way!

So. First day. Dad and Nick saw me off. There was some mountain bike race thing finishing in Kalamunda (where the track starts) so it was really busy there. We bought some lunch and sat and ate (pack in all the calories!) surrounded by people commiserating their injuries or celebrating their wins. Then it was time! I put my dorky hat on and took the requisite photo of me in front of the track sign. Dad walked with  me the first km or two, until the track reached the nice views, then veered off to the left. At this point, Dad was like, so now you go straight down [the hill]. I looked down, and commented – I can’t see any waugal*. He looked around for a second and goes, good call. You actually have to go left, not down. I was like, lucky to learn that now and not later! Off I went, anxiously looking for waugals and pacing out my distance when I didn’t see one for a bit. Paranoid about missing an important waugal and going the wrong way.

I got to the creek crossing bit and got out the guidebook for the first time. Directions confusing. Followed signs as directions didn’t make sense. Up the hill. Got to a small flat-ish patch near top of (very steep) hill. Track not clear – there’d been bushfires through here in the not too distant past and there was a lot of bare earth which made it hard to pick out the track. I took a few cautious steps to the right, through a few bushes. Found track! Phew. Relief. Continued on track. But…no waugal. Paced out steps (to calculate how far I was walking). Got to 500m (approx.). No waugal. Damn. Lots. Backtrack. (Checked guidebook, still confused by written directions). Checked online for guidebook updates (did all except first book last night). None. Checked google maps for location. Track not marked on google maps. So pointless. Tried to backtrack. Couldn’t actually find original point where I’d left the Bibb. Eventually realized was on another track altogether, internal compass telling me I was going away from original track direction. Could hear the small creek – gave up with the track altogether, cut off track down (steep) hill to road, followed back towards where I thought creek crossing was feeling very uncertain. Asked Mountain biker – where is Bib track? He affirmed walking right direction. Embarrassed. First day! First two hours! Less than 4km! And already lost.

Back to bottom of (steep) hill. Begin to climb (very steep) hill for second time. Sigh. Get to same point in track. Look around, still not obvious. Try going left. Vague track, then: waugal! Hooray! (used map to check contour lines, figured needed to be between large powerlines and ridge – this was helpful). More hill, back on track but slightly anxious spent around 2km (?) plus 45-60 minutes pfaffing. Oh well. Continued on. Lesson number one: back track exactly the way you came to avoid getting more lost. Hot and sweaty, sunny and blue sky. Pass plenty of day walkers, many couples with dogs. Keen eye for waugal, but they are now plentiful. Keep checking guide book every five minutes. All smooth sailing (walking). Feet start to hurt about eight km in. Only four to go.

Sun

Getting excited when guidebook suggests I’m close to hut (after passing the camel farm!) (camel riding lessons!). All of a sudden hear hooting and yells, such as that of hooligans. Uh oh. I hope is not coming from shelter. Sinking feeling that shelter is very close now though, what else would it be? See group of smallish people. Look like kids. See shelter. Damn. Arrive to shelter – full! Four young teenagers, two adults. Plus two old dudes. Bill and Byron. One of them is 70, 71. His fourth time doing an E2E. They started today too. I find out kids are going opposite direction. Thank fuck. But shelter is full. So tent it is. Good thing I brought it eh. One other tent, appear to be a couple. Hiding away. I don’t talk to them. Set up, enjoy sun going down and still air. Mozzies but. Time to close up tent. Bit concerned about overnight temps and whether will be warm enough. Oh well. Couscous (gluten free), TVP and freeze-dried veggies for dinner. Bland and too much – actually couldn’t finish it! (Too much lunch? Not enough walking?). Bill asks me – how long does your stove last with that little fuel cannister? and I realise I have no idea…They also have jet boil and he reckons about four days or a little longer. Hmm. Should have probably tested to see how long one gas bottle will last. Also forgot to test out pouring boiling water in Ziploc bags to use to cook instant food. Oh well. 7pm. Teeth and then bed.

Tenting it
Bill and Byron

*The Track is marked along the way by small yellow markers with a symbol of a Waugal on them. The Waugal is the rainbow serpent of the Aboriginal Dreaming.