The Bibbulmun: day thirty six – Mt Chance -> Woolbales

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

Highlight of day was meeting Dad for gas and lunch exchange. I exchanged my rubbish for lunch haha. He had Lara with him (Swiss chick who was backpacking and in Albany). Much talk by hut mates at Woolbales re: sandwich – ‘how was the sandwich?’ ‘bring any sandwiches back for us?’. Guess I went on about it a bit the day before.

Was/is a really weird thing to see the fam while on the track – it’s like this odd brush with another parallel universe, another reality. Where people are clean and cultured and not obsessed with food. And then there’s this odd tearing away when you leave, where you sort of want to turn back and just go home with them, to showers and beds and shoes, but you keep walking and soon enough that feeling fades and you’re back in the bush, at home.

Back to wading again, and deeper than yesterday – pretty much up to my knees. So much for the guy telling us it was only shin deep (half way up shins he said!). The first part of the day went really quick and easy, saw the karri trees I knew (from guide book) the road would be in to meet Dad and thought ‘the karri trees! That’s where the sandwich is! I mean, Dad. That’s where Dad is.’ After leaving Dad it dragged though, felt I’d been going for ages and FINALLY allowed myself to look at the clock and only been about 40 min. (This is after leaving the 16km mark). Crossed some deep sections mostly fine – a couple of dark ones you couldn’t see through which was a bit creepy, and a few with thick, slippery mud. There was this one that was so bad, slipping around, half losing my shoe, using heaps of energy to walk, slow going, would have fallen many times if not for sticks. Lining on inside of shoe has holes rubbed in it, through which sand and mud go, which builds up under my feet, squishing my toes. When I took my shoes off this arv (felt v grumpy when FINALLY got to hut,) I had about ½ cup dirt packed on top of my toes. With my holey socks and disgustingly dirty bandages, Lynn said I looked like a leper haha. Anyway, totally underestimated how the shoes would go wading. I thought light weight runners would be better, but in the mud they are shit house. Boots would have been better. Also really wish I had a pair of camp shoes as mine just wet and fucked, which leaves me going around camp in bare feet, which is cold, sometimes wet and dirty and maybe ouchy!

A wallaby growled at me today. Gave me a fright. I didn’t even know they growled. It was like a dog! Saw 2 hawks yesterday. Hoping for clouds to clear tonight so can head up to summit and get some pics. I feel v tired. Felt so great this morning having a sleep in! Up at 5am for toilet (bad cramps – poop or period? who knows?) then back to bed and dozed til 6, lay around for a bit, got sunrise hill pic, brekkie, sat around, strapped sonja’s knee, etc. Coffee! With found coffee bag someone left behind. Left at 8:30, perfect timing to arrive and meet Dad, stayed there about 1.5 h and still got into hut around 3pm. Should have long breaks more often! Ocean tomorrow. Today is 749km – ¾ of the way there. Far out. Only 250 to go, come on feet…right heel hurt in new place today. Arch joints sore when got to hut, hip aching right now, woke me last night. Want to finish! After crossing the (relatively) deep creeks coming into the hut, you think you’re done and then there’s one more long, boggy, swamp. You can see the hill in front of you that you know must be where the hut is, but have to get through this long deep quagmire…so demoralizing!

The Bibbulmun: day thirty five – Dog Pool -> Mt Chance

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

2am – dreaming about tent leaking. In my dream, I wake up to a pool of water and my sleeping bag is wet. I don’t freak out because I think to myself that I can just ask the roof contractor tradies to turn their cars on and I can use the car heater to dry my baggie. Then, an actual drip on face. Dream real. Well, luckily not totally real. Tent is leaking but not full pool and sleeping bag not too wet.

A quiz: when there’s no hut and it’s 2am and raining and your tent starts leaking onto your face, do you:

a) cry yourself back to sleep in despair and pretend it’s not happening,

b) pack up in the dark go sit in the only dry place around with no hut – the portaloo – and try to sleep sitting upright,

c) pack up and start hiking in the dark and the rain, it’s only 20km to the next hut,

d) stay up for the next few hours until it’s light dozing/mopping up the puddles intermittently or,

e) fire off your PLB and get the fuck outta there.

I chose D.

Packed and left camp by 5:45. Walked pretty fast and in hut by 10. Passed the time composing an email to the guy who made my tent, and thinking up bitchy sarcastic comments to add (‘Did I forget to tell you I wanted a water proof tent? must have been my mistake’). Sun out when arrived here, phone reception on top of hill. While walking, thinking about after yesterday’s walk I felt Bibb was pushing me to my limits. Then leak happened. Even more to limit. And yet, I feel kind of ok. Like, yeah, it sucks, but what are you going to do? Stop? Today my sense is that I’ve reached some place of acceptance within myself, like I’ve seen into my brain and it’s ok in there. Things are shit and I hate the long straight roads but I’m ok. I dealt with a 2 am leak. Although ashamed and annoyed and disappointed about it (I was so proud of my custom, locally made, ethical tent). I’ve got some tough.

I was also thinking about how to appreciate your life: go without. Without a shower for days, sleeping on the ground, eating only processed/preserved food, no shelter to stay dry, not having a towel, not having a choice of food, no running water, no hot water, no soap, no reception, no power…so many things (Transport! Fresh food! An abundance of food, and food choices! Heating! Lights! Beds! Towels! Clean clothes! Water! Shelter! Comfortable shoes! Ovens! Bikes! Internet!) we have and just take utterly for granted.

Saw three emus and tiny turtle (tortoise?) long neck I think, on the plains. Also had much to be grateful for – drip on face woke me up before sleeping bag got too wet, there were some moments of sun throughout the day, I went to bed at 7 last night so had at least a few hours sleep before the leak happened, it stopped raining while I packed up the tent, I saw 3 emus, today was only 20km and there is a HUT here – imagine if rain night happened at Gardner and then had to do it again at Dog Pool? Meeting Dad for gas and sandwich and cake tomorrow at Broke Inlet road, looking foward to it.

….

The 2 March girls arrived here, and Jerry, Helle, Peter and Sonja. Nice to have a gang of happy sociable people. Feel quite rested after being here all day (after getting in at 10am). Pingerup plains were cool, distractingly, cold water was actually quite nice on sore feet, and flowers were lovely. More wading tomorrow, then back to hills. Thunder and hail this arvo – SO pleased and grateful to be in hut, makes this experience 1000x better. Would be miserable without. Peter going back about 2km for Sonja’s lost pack cover because her feet are sore. What a partner.

The Bibbulmun: day thirty four – Gardener -> Lake Maringup (closed) -> Dog Pool

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

Yesterday’s walk was beautiful, after a late start of around 12:45 thanks to Motel Woman. Wildflowers best yet. Not too hilly and nice soft sandy track. Arrived to no roof on hut (sigh) so put up tent – didn’t rain! Roof builder contractors there, very ‘like, how far youse been walking?’ and barbequing sausages on their portable gas stoves. I was hoping they might share but no luck.

Got up early to avoid rain (woke at 4:44) left around 6:10. Long long fucking day. The ‘temporary site’ to replace the flooded Lake Maringup was literally 2 jerry cans at the junction of the 4WD tracks. Glad I didn’t plan to camp there. 33km total. Also big debacle about which way to go at Chesapeake road junction – all for nothing in the end as Chesapeake road has moved since map was printed. Listened to some Harry and some Amy Poelher Yes Please audio book where she said writing a book was hard –and something about ‘it’s the doing of it’ that is the important part. Trying to remember that with the walking. Feel am just ‘getting through it’ again, hanging out for Walpole. Although enjoying bits today, my body is sore and I am tired and feel I could finish at this point feeling satisfied, if this were the end of the track. But it’s not. Still some 300km to go. So fucking far. The question WHY does come up, but is no longer relevant. Now it’s that I’ve started and want to finish. Don’t know why. Don’t know why it would feel so bad to stop early. I’m not even considering stopping as an option, even as I spend all day hanging out for when I can stop for a break, when I get to camp, when I get to town, when I’m done!

At Dog Pool now, it’s nice but still no shelter. I actually slept better last night in my tent, but like to have the shelter to lie around in. At least it’s not raining yet – only a few showers today, but thunderstorms tipped for tomorrow. Shelter at least tomorrow, if not a fire. Tonight is the last hut with a fire pit! Still 4 more nights until next town. At least tomorrow is only 19.5km. Had my first wading today – avoided first few big puddles but eventually accepted defeat and just went through it. Feet are white and peeling and all the pad of my foot part of the injinji socks I found are worn through. Dirt is ingrained in hands and feet, I’m sticky from dried sweat and can’t even be bothered to wash. Such is life.

The Bibbulmun: day thirty three – Northcliffe -> Gardener

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

There are rumours about roofs at Gardener and Dog pool – supposed to be on ‘by Friday’ – tomorrow. Was raining heavily this morning and more predicted so roof would be great…will see! Plan to check out, use visitor centre wifi and eat again then leave.

….

Went to visitor centre to use wifi and ran into Lyn from the March Girls – she’d just booked a room at the Motel! Don’t do it! I said, $160 a night and such a rip off! What? She says, I only paid $90!

W. T. F.

I used the visitor centre phone to ring the Motel Woman, and queried why I’d paid $70 more than the next person. She gave me about four different bullshit excuses like ‘we thought you were going to stay two nights so we were only going to charge you an extra $20 for the second night’ and ‘we talked to some friends last night after we checked you in who suggested doing a discount price for walkers’ and then settled on ‘how about I refund you the difference’. Then began a long stretch of waiting for her to come into town to meet me, her not being where we agreed to meet, going to make another phone call, going to where she was, etc. Made me quite late getting started but worth it for 70 bucks yo. Guess she realised I might bag them out in the hut books if she didn’t, and walkers are pretty decent trade through the towns!

The Bibbulmun: day thirty two – Warren -> Northcliffe (Shitcliffe)

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

OMG worst day so far. Started ok with yet another bad nights sleep – waking hot and sweaty, with nerve/pelvic pain. Self conscious of moving about on my sleeping mat for noise factor. But whatev. Still morning, nice @ lake/dam. Got up and ready so early, stoked to be going to town, just wanted to lay with feet up. Left before 6:30am, walk so flat and relatively clear compared to prev week. Big long flooded section between paddocks which I avoided by walking along barbed wire fence line. Some Harry for last hour or so, along hard gravel road. Got to town – no reception. WTF. Went to visitor centre (wifi!), collected box and asked about local accom, was told: motel (recently closed) now taken over by new people – don’t have number. Left pack in visitor centre to walk past motel and get number (on advice of visitor centre helper). Number not there. Went to eat and hope visitor centre lady could find number.

Ate (lol, worst soy latte I’ve had in a long time), saw Helle and Jerry. Back to visitor centre around 12-12:30. Motel available. Not sure on cost but prev around $90/night. Waited there til 2. Motel owner woman came over to get me to check me in. Check in – no wifi, no breakie included, no washing facilities – $160 for one night. GO FUCK YOURSELF. Too late now. 2:40pm. Fuck you, I’m going to eat lunch – went next door to cafe. Café closed at 2:30. Fuckkkk. Then I think, I saw shop next to café with gluten free bread – was open 9-4, can go there and make a sandwich – arrive to sign on door – on Wednesdays, closes at 2. Fucccckkkkk. Give up. Go back to motel room.

Open resupply box. Fuck. Have sent self box with 2 days of food not 6. (Thought it looked small). What will I eat in next section?? Will need to resupply at tiny mega expensive general store! No freeze dried items! Food will be so heavy!

Bought Telstra sim. (So upset! So isolated! Need to talk to a friend!). Taking ages to connect (usually 10 min, the operator tells me!). Waiting, waiting. Get coins from general store. Go to phone booth (haven’t used one in so many years – feeling desperate). Put in 50c, call Linton – goes to voicemail. Phone keeps my 50c. Another 50c and try calling Mum – goes to voicemail. One more 50c and try Linton again – he finally answered and then spent my $3.50 in about 3 minutes just crying and saying fuck this fuck that. Not the most comforting but better than nothing.

Nowhere in town open for dinner. Motel lady offered to give me microwave so I could eat a frozen microwave meal from the general store. They are only super super processed pasta and pizza – all gluteny and taste shit and I just want real food while I’m in town!! She then drove me to nearest pub around 2km away (I suppose that was nice of her. Grudging thanks). 2km long way to walk when trying to rest sore feet. Luckily Peter and Sonja were there and listened to my woes and bought and fed me red wine. Ate steak and chips. Asked at the bar if anyone lived in town and could drive me back. A man who seemed quite drunk drove me home after P and S gave me leftover food from their packs.

I had wanted to stay for rest day but now hate Shitcliffe too much so will go on. Now have so much food can hardly fit in bag. Over compensating for being hungry. Although when left Pemberton thought had heaps of food but ate most of it…think shorter and easier days at least some of this section (I hope). Also, reach the coast! And wading…will battle on. Not all about fun and laughs right?

The Bibbulmun: day thirty one – Warren -> Schafer

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

Originally I was going to double through here and go straight to Northcliffe. Glad I didn’t – lots of hills plus 627000 trees to climb over/under/through. Also Shafer is really nice hut overlooking dam. Got in up to my thighs and splash washed – nice, after sweaty day. Solid poop – too solid. Where have the runs gone? (joke). Top of left foot still v sore. Not great sleep last night – new hut mate Jerry snoring like death rattle/growling animal. Then woke sweating several times. Too hot/too cold. Damn these warm nights! Where is my non-insulated mat when I need it!! Thought of two things today that I’d like to do and actually felt excited! Creative writing course and or photography course. Ideally adventure photography but doubt legit course exists for niche. (No e-courses!).

Hunger is cranked up big time. Must be losing weight again. Hunger abated after eating loads during rest day at Balingup. All day I’ve been slipping on karri bark, going downhills, and stumbling/tripping over sticks on track. SO many sticks/branches/trees on track! For last 100km. Since just north of DRV. Also, as above, hoarding my days in case I ‘need them later’? Do same with food –especially treats. Choc/Cliff bars/back country meals – will not eat/hold off on eating just in case want to eat later. Why stockpile treats and not just enjoy them on the days I planned? Scarcity mindset? Haven’t been feeling depressed, although 3 months no meds. But what would depressed look like out here? Different to what it is in a city, in a normal life? The only real task is to walk, and the only alternative is to not walk. Which leaves you exactly where you are. Feel like there is a meaningful analogy about life in there. Had a good day today, although the walking itself felt tough (or my body is tired) – overcast all morning but didn’t get rained on or wear raincoat! Best thing of the day. Just felt more upbeat in general. Didn’t listen to anything. Think the weather made a huge difference to be honest. Even a little patch of sun to warm up after dip in lake! Saw little bandicoot or similar running around near hut. Cute.

 

The Bibbulmun: day thirty – Pemberton -> Warren

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

Slept badly in the YHA with temp regulating difficulty (like, feet out, sheet on, doona just over my ribs, too hot, too cold. V frustrating). Then crazy bad snorer started up just after midnight. Was going to check with him if he had sleep apnea but seemed rude. Could have stayed in caravan park with March Girls another night and taken a rest day but figured would just keep walking. Left about 9am – after 6am bacon eggs and coffee at bakery with Helle, Jerry and Mr Deer, then 8am second breakfast bowl of carmens muesli with yoghurt and strawbs. Filling up! Called Linton and chatted while I walked to Gloucester Tree. Climbed it –fucking terrifying!! Rungs so steep and also cold and slippery. Seems like if fell would slide all the way to bottom at high speed (53m). Called L back and chatted a bit more til reception ran out. 1st bit of walk ok. Put on podcast (Being Honest with my Ex) for couple of hours. But same weather – blue, sunny, cloudy, rain. Repeat. Raincoat on but whole body then covered in sweat. So shitty. Over it. What is the fucking point. Up and down a million hills. Go on 2 month trip to Bali next time, not walk 1000km. Fucksake. It’s HARD.

Ate white choc and macadamia cliff bar, was highlight of day.

Weather predicted much the same for next 4 days. Now hutting with 2 new people – Helle from Denmark and Jerry from Tweed Head. Bit older than Mr Deer (and me!). Seem nice. Left Bec and Fred behind in Pemby hurray! (#sorrynotsorry). Listened to podcast on mental health. Triggered thoughts of: do I want to get involved in mental health stuff again? If so, how? No answer yet. Want treats. Want already to be in Northcliffe. Want room to self. Want bath. Want ugboots. Want couch and TV. All mod cons. Feel have had enough, but still 3 weeks to go! 400km. (380). Feels such a long way still. Pride says can’t stop. Also think would feel unfinished (duh). Also what else would I be doing with my life? And now finally have strategy where feet aren’t totally fucked (just little bit fucked) – bandage, tape, shoes unlaced (cut quicklace with knife before long double to make more space on top of feet) and relaced to only one hole on left, 2 on right so can make big enough for feet to fit in with bandages on. Feel tired in body. Perhaps need a rest day…Saw Mum/Dad emu with 5-6 little ones running up path away from me. So cute! So vulnerable! Notice this about self –every time do a double, instead of using spare day to have rest, want to keep spare day up sleeve to ‘maybe use later’. Like to have safety reserve – same as saving $$. Also, learned lesson: 1) if you make ‘sandwich’ with tomato, cheese, avo, lettuce, cucumber – on corn-crackers in morning to take for lunch, they will go very soggy and mushy. 2) when hungry in bush you will eat them anyway (hungry, plus wouldn’t want to carry them) 3) They will still taste good – standards so much lower! Cuc still have crunch! Used to 100% mush, they have texture in comparison. Hips are aching. Rest day or ibuprofen? Why so against rest day?

 

The Bibbulmun: day twenty nine – Beedelup -> Pemberton

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

Woke last night with the feeling of a rat? friendly marsupial? climbing up and over my sleeping body. Not the most pleasant haha – but at least I didn’t wake to it walking up and over my face! Walked into town. Harry* for last few hours as so bored and over it. Got real hungry – ate allll my food. Room at YHA – ok, but no soap, towels, books, character, even things like salt and pepper. Thought about having a day off as one day early, but felt bored even just being here for an arvo. Bought too much food at IGA – whole chicken, had some spinach, cucumber, hummus and avo. Sah good. And cheese. Strawberries and yoghurt. Had more chicken and cheese and cuc and tom and cooked broccoli and sweet potato for dinner. Vegies! Yum.

Also turns out the friendly marsupial ate several holes in Mr Deers’ pack. Unlucky. Right in crucial parts of the pack, too.

*Harry Potter audio book

The Bibbulmun: day twenty eight – Boarding House -> Beavis -> Beedelup

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

With terrible weather predicted, got up at 4am to set off at 5 to avoid worst of it. Raining as left, in the dark. Didn’t rain that much all day in the end. Hail 6-8-10 times. Crossing trees was more fun and interesting than hard. Got to Beavis at around 10am. Too early to stop! So Mr Deer and I decided to do a double through to Beedelup – 43km. Smashed. Write more later. So achy.

The Bibbulmun: day twenty seven – Tom Road -> Boarding House

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

Had a reasonably peupty day. Morning was nice, left just after 6:30, and it was really nice walking along river. Then the clouds came over and it drizzled for 1.5 hours and I was just like, fuck this. Realised that I keep doing the same thing with people – putting up the emotional walls, which then makes me shitty at anything they do. The question is, why? And how to stop it? Just writing this I’m like, why do I need to ‘stop it’/fix it – Can I just let myself be??

Got to picnic ground – almost ½ way – by 9:10am. Too early for even 1st lunch. Ate some doritos (left over from ages ago!) while resting with my feet up. Passed the ‘linear’ 1/2 way point but didn’t even see it. Left rest spot, crossed suspension bridge (1 tree bridge) and kept on. Just felt grumpy. Got to where guidebook said ½ way is, had heard there was a marker there but didn’t see anything. Felt pissed/ripped off. Saw a piece of duct tape on ground – handmade ½ way sign. 100m on, real ½ way sign. Took selfie – horrified by selfs face. Sad that still think that about myself. Created witty self-deprecating insta post reminding others that thru hiking is not what you do if you want to take good selfies. Sigh.

Another couple km, passed 2 women who were camping. Sat near river for break. Mr Deer caught up to me, walked last 5.5km together (at quite fast pace, set by him!) it fucking dragged, even with two people. After chapel bridge, track was covered in such deep water that I scrambled up onto top of railway cutting to avoid wet feet. Got to hut around 12:45 – had HOT LUNCH (thanks Mum) and snickers as reward. So tired. Two rangers came and said (as many in book have said) there are 2 x big karri trees down over the track in tomorrow’s section –already meant to be a tough day. Plus forecast is predicting rain, hail, strong winds…Mr Deer and I are going to get up at 4am again to try and get a few hours done before weather really sets in. Bucko (old dude) might just stay in the hut – he was going to turn around at the next hut anyway. Not stoked about the prospect of getting saturated again tomorrow – with two more days still to go before Pemberton. Anyway. Just a grumpy whingey day today. Tried strapping tape plus ½ bandage – worked ok on right foot but on left too much pressure on top of foot/bone and it hurt SO much. CAN’T WIN! Had first moment of actually looking forward to being able to not have to torture my feet every fucking day…like a normal person , just throw on any old pair of shoes and not think about it! Imagine!