The Bibbulmun: day seventeen – REST DAY! Collie

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

First rest day!! Got into Collie around 4:30pm yesterday, 36.9km/8 hours walking. Big day. Feet v v sore. Sore by 15km, let alone 37! Phoned Mum and Dad, Linton. Showered. Domino’s GF pizza, garlic bread, choc mousse. Finally not hungry for a little while…Today eating ’til I feel sick. More shower. Picked up food resupply box from hostel. Washed clothes (wandered around the hostel wearing literally only my raincoat while clothes in the wash and the dryer. Felt a little like a flasher. Luckily is a 3/4 length coat). Post Office (sent home some spare stuff, sent some choc and jerky onwards to my self at next town, picked up my heel lift that Dad posted here), podiatrist (got a last minute cancellation appt!) – she was most unimpressed with my shoes and orthotics. ‘Useless, simply useless’. She tried to suppress her anger at how ‘useless’ they were but I could hear her muttering around the corner of the partition in the room. I thought yesterday – although I feel no great passion for my life at home at the moment, nor do I feel great passion/any passion for anything really. Like, there’s no point to doing the Bibb, but also no point in not doing it.

Have been eating ALL the gluten. Farts very bad. Want very much to go back to gluten free. A whole iced apple log thing from bakery, sausage roll, croutons on caesar salad (anchovies! Too much mayo :/ ) chicken noodles in hut the other day, garlic bread…bleh. Mr Deer has hooked me up with a super cheap airmat that is insulated! V happy. $107. Cheaper than I paid for my (not insulated) one. He’s a good boy. Have bought wind screen reflector to go under my current mat to get me though ’til then. V tired. Sugar, food, people – tiring. Plain food, walking, bush – less so. Even though much increased exercise. Have sorted my food for next section. Much more, think I’ll have leftovers. Pack will be heavy though.

 

The Bibbulmun: day sixteen – Yourdamung -> Harris Dam -> Collie

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

Stop for snack around 8am (1/2 bag doritos, healthy morning snack), early sun coming through trees. Very still, sun catching wings/bodies of many large mozzies – look like tiny golden fairies! V. magical.

*very tired at end of day. no energy for writing*

The Bibbulmun: day fifteen – Possum Springs -> Yourdamung

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

I’m at Yourdamung hut – fanged it here this morning to arrive by 11:20 although I wasn’t sure I would. I was thinking if I made it before midday that I’d keep going to Harris Dam – I was cold and hungry last night – literally dreaming about food, and all I could think about all day is food. I don’t have enough to be comfortable another two nights. Whilst walking, to pass the time (and because LITERALLY all I could think about was food related things, I came up with a long winded analogy to try and describe how hungry I feel: imagine having a bucket, one of those ones that you might take out to the garden and fill with potatoes you’ve dug out of the ground (could it be a 20L bucket?), and you get given the task of filling it with coins. Then you throw in $2.50, in silver, and ask, is it full yet? Not. Even. Close. But now I’m here at Yourdamung, and there is a freeze dried meal! Pasta (gluten) but I’m not picky at this point. But it throws up another question – eating it for lunch (which I’m doing now) will that make the rest of my food last till Collie for another two nights?? Possibly. Just not looking forward to thinking of nothing but food for the next two and half days – it’s so boring. And not fun/enjoying the scenery…On the other hand, feet are already sore after 19km, another 14 and they will be even more sore…which is bigger priority? If not for the food in this hut then food definitely would be…will see how feel after eating.

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I had actually just made the decision to move on, but then did the ‘body compass’ check in and the result was to stay here – marginally. I guess what my body really needs is more resting of feet rather than food, as I’ve just eaten lunch. It’s pretty much the time of day where I have to make a call either way. I think I’ll stay here. Keep my original itinerary, no rest day in Collie, easy 15km tomorrow to rest the feet even more and then 22 into Collie in the morning. Can leave early to arrive to Collie by noon…Just means today and tomorrow will be hungry. And maybe two more cold nights. But hey. Character building, right? Food coma. Nap time.

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Got hungry <2 hours after eating. Have had snacks but still hungry. I guess this is ‘hiker hunger’? Perhaps it will be this way for next 5 weeks? Like 5 km of straight road today – felt like it had been going since forever, and was going to last forever (until it stopped of course). Strange sensation of just, foreverness. It has been raining on and off all arvo – hopefully will stay cloudy and therefore warmer tonight. Feel am becoming something else now – discussing with Mr Deer – we’re not normal humans anymore – we’re bush humans. Listening to Harry, stretching, drinking tea and eating choc. Not a bad arvo. Lots of doing ‘not much’ on this adventure. Also lots of doing lots, too, I guess. I’m now thinking I’ll double tomorrow. It will be v. punishing to my feet I’m sure….but, food. No phone since…Wed morning? Maybe Thurs morning…It’s now Sunday. Longest I’ve gone in long time – even overseas there’s internet more regularly. Like it, but also keen to get into range again. Want connection?

Why do I keep pushing myself with the walking when my feet hurt so much? The two joints seem to be getting worse not better which is distressing for me (as usual). Although my left toe has improved a lot, and my right heel is a lot better when I wear my shoe as a slipper – and both of those, at home, would’ve caused me to stop doing whatever I was doing. Maybe can push through this foot pain too, to the other, less painful, side? So frustrating when rest of self is keen to walk (and eat). Constant thinking of food. So boring. Also. My fingernails are black, there’s dirt ingrained in the lines of my hands. I’m kinda sticky from layers of sweat and I’m sure I smell. Such is life! Dinner time is getting earlier and earlier. Trying to wait until 5:30…it’s hard. Also – the couple of times I managed to go to sleep last night and not wake up cold, I woke up drooling on my ‘pillow’ instead. Fuckdamn.

The Bibbulmun: day fourteen – Dookanelly -> Possum Springs

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

‘Twas a long slog today indeed – 21km diversion for 11km of closed track. Mr Deer and I got up at 4am to get an early start. Dark and ffffreezing. Hiked the first 60-90min with head-torch. 21km on road and 4WD track – most uninspiring but so much better with having conversation. Felt good at end of diversion, although looked at river and went – could have crossed that no sweat. Oh well. Then a bit geographically challenged, spent a few minutes walking up and down looking for track. Found track again (near Worsky conveyor – mistake was that heads were down, tramping up hill, just missed the turn off waugal). Stopped for lunch with only 6 ish km to go (saw 2 emus poking around while we sat). Already at lunch and only 6km left!

Was longest 6km ever. Feet hurting, couldn’t be bothered talking etc. Pacing out km. Bush quite pretty but hard to really appreciate it. Realise don’t have quite enough food for next three days. Ditched too much of it in Dwellingup. Considering a double in the next few days but would be hard – either a 33km tomorrow or 36km the day after…other option is that I go a bit hungry over the next three days!! And no rest day in Collie. Thinking might do 19km tomorrow, then go past the campsite and just pitch a tent somewhere towards Collie so it’s a smaller walk in the 3rd day. As I have no brekkie or lunch that day and minimal snacks. Means a bit of a lonely/scary night though. Oh well, we’ll see. I’m already hungry most of the time as it is. Within 45 minutes of eating – not that I’m eating huge amounts, only snacks and crackers and vegemite in the day. Haven’t thought much about life today. Phone off all day and no reception since day before yesterday. Feeling some separation from it all, which is quite good actually. Like it all actually doesn’t matter out here, for a bit anyway.

The Bibbulmun: day thirteen – Murray -> Dookanelly

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

Not a bad day. Absolutely loved the morning leaving Murray – was misty and quite still. Beautiful. Took some pics but the camera can’t quite capture the look of sun on morning dew, the sparkle of droplets falling off branches, the steam rising off the fallen tree trunks. The area is all burned out, so clear views to river and this fluro psychedelic green fairyfloss moss covers a lot of ground, plus ferns – with tall black sticks sticking up out of it. It actually looks quite cool. Felt awesome for first 10-12 km of walk feet not hurting. (Right shoe still a slipper). Pack not too heavy. But last few km struggled. Just one joint in feet hurting – on both sides – above arch. Important joint though. Also 2km straight up 4WD track hill, red slippery clay – trudging. Not looking forward to 34km diversion tomorrow.

Mr Deer (who did rock up late last night – pretty much just ate and passed out; but still felt less scared) reckons he’s going to get going by 5am – maybe I will too. I leap frogged all morning with Dave – but he’s not here. I guess he got started on the diversion. Good move if you ask me. I had a bush bath here, in the sun! Was nice. It’s super cold though. Today not feeling as despairing about things back in Melb. Remembering the good points.

Got excited when I found a book of short stories in the hut (I miss reading!!) but there were unfortunately some scary stories. One about some teenagers getting stalked and abducted by a scary dude in a car; one about some creatures from the underworld who come up and start tearing apart humans in gruesome detail. Come on guys, don’t leave books like that lying around for people to read when they’re (potentially) alone in the middle of the bush! Haha.

The Bibbulmun: day twelve – Swamp Oak -> Murray

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

Weird day. Felt scared and nervy all day! Guy in ute with dog drove past me early in day – pretty sure he was on closed road. Thinking of some sad thoughts* and crying again – last night in sleeping bag and again having break today. Almost comical – sitting on a log alone in the bush, in light rain, wearing dorky hat, eating snacks and crying. Lol. Slept well last night – went to bed before 7 before it got dark, and didn’t even listen to Harry**. Very still night. When got here around 12:30 (even though when walking, thought must be at least 1:30 – was only 11:30. Time dragging again) felt relieved and a bit less scared. Then heard 3 massive noises – sounded like explosions. Also two emergency services sirens. Not that far away – over hill on other side of river. Very scary. Retreated into corner of hut – as though I’d be safer there! Hoping little track brother Mr Deer does the double today from Dwellingup – scared to stay alone again! Beautiful blue wrens here. Walked 20km today with the heel cup of my shoe folded down under my foot – like a slip on shoe. So much better for heel! Freaked out last night realizing how swollen heel is. Wearing shoe like this is less good for rest of foot/ankle joints though. Sore at top of arches on both sides. Stop start rain since around 11:30. Also right shoulder sore – axillary nerve (?) throbbing. Tight rotator cuff I think. So pleased I went with the vegemite tube at Dwellingup – loving it on corn crackers as a savoury snack. Too much sugar? Think my tummy is better today too.

*edited out as not for public consumption 😉

** Harry Potter audio book

The Bibbulmun: day eleven – Dwellingup -> Swamp Oak

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

Lovely Lisa drove me to Pinjarra this morning to try get gas (no luck! Only had ginormous size cans which didn’t want on account of weight) and probiotics. Saw Mr Deer (!) randomly, in the supermarket carpark (Pinjarra being a twenty minute drive from Dwell where we both spent the night) and told him of my gas predicament; he got his parents to bring down a spare and is going to drop some around to me at Lisa’s shortly. Saving my bacon that boy. Felt overwhelmed when got to town and café yesterday – noise, people, food? And wanted to be back in bush. Now settled back to reality and hard to leave…

….

5pm: Struggled today. Only 13.3km, and took around 4 hours with several stops. Feet/Achilles hurt, shoulders hurt, just felt TIRED. Also felt emotionally all over the place. Felt sick in gut and sad/frustrated with that. Am only one here so far so likely to be first night alone. Feel a little anxious/nervous! Very still night which makes any noises more obvious. Have told people that my Achilles isn’t getting worse but I think it might be. Very sad and upset – and trying to practice acceptance. Was so very well cared for by Lisa, such a lovely connection. Parrots/cockies nibbling gumnuts and dropping them noisily (especially noisy when fall on the roof of the hut). The birds are my protectors, according to Lisa. Hoping I’m just tired from not sleeping as much. Not sure if I can go back to life as it is/was in Melb. Need the bush. Looked in book for Eddie coming through here last year, found his entry – three days after Julian had been here! So funny. Brain is already telling me many scary scenarios that could happen involving scary men etc. Brain is nervous.

 

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.