The Bibbulmun: an afterword

In September and October 2016 I did the 1000km Bibbulmun Track Solo, North-South. I wrote this four weeks after I finished.

It feels like something is happening. A really deep, seismic shift. The deep cores of worthlessness, hopelessness, self disgust and despair are being aired, opened, examined. In a new light – the light of feminism (I was conditioned to hate myself by society!).

There’s a part of me unfurling – it feels inevitable and un-doable. And as though it’s going to change a bunch of stuff. There’s a crack, and I can finally let the light in. I don’t need to hide anymore. I can actually be me. Embody myself. All of myself. With love and acceptance. And without blame or judgement. If feels like I might finally be able to love myself. For reals.

I’m kind of shy and excited to meet this fresh new self who’s emerging, like a soft pink new born. Like when you’re a kid and you see your favourite cousin who you haven’t seen for ages, for a few moments you feel shy and don’t make eye contact. Then one of says ‘you want to go play?’ and then you hold hands and go off together, inseparable until your parents force you into two separate cars at the end of the night. It’s like that, meeting this new, soft and shiny self. Only this time we get to hold hands and run off together, and not leave in two cars. This time we stay and play together.

Right now though, I’m still at the shy part. I’m anticipating it’s going to be fun but I’m not yet brave enough to offer my hand. It also feels good not rushing it. I can sense the unfurling, but there’s no shortcut or speeding it up. It’s going to bloom in it’s own time. Somehow I feel certain that it’s happening though. Even though there’s not that much evidence yet, something feels different.

When I finished the Bibb, I was disappointed that with all the time I spent mulling over the problems in my life, I hadn’t solved any of them. I didn’t think I had any answers, no conclusions about whatthefuckdoidowithmylife. And yet, since coming home, everything is shifted and nothing is what it was before.

Each day, each km, each step – they were like gentle waves on a beach, each washing away another fine layer of silt, to eventually reveal what beauty lay beneath the whole time – beauty that was previously concealed. Me.

The Bibbulmun: day fifty – Sandpatch -> ALBANY

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

Well, this was the final day. I didn’t actually write anything in my journal on this day. It was just done.

I got up early, (still windy!) packed up and headed off. It was another beautiful, sunny, clear morning. Beautiful walk up in the sand dunes for the first bit, then down to the harbour. Rang Mum and Dad as the fam wanted to come in and meet me at the end. They’d only just woken up so it was a mad rush for them to make it in!

I acutally got to experience a couple of little corners of Albany that I’d never walked through before, which was cool. The track showed me some new parts of the town I grew up in (around the old mills and at the bottom of Mt Melville). As I walked along Grey St I saw Dad and Liam drive past. I got to the bottom of Parade St and actually had to get the guidebook out! Of course I knew where the end was, I just wanted to make sure I walked the proper way there.

Rachel and Dad and Liam were all there when I got to the official end, and Mum and Grandma and Uncle Ross were just pulling up. It was actually a little overwhelming having such a big welcoming party! But fun. I had the usual sensation of being next to ‘normal’ people, and becoming aware of how dirty and sweaty and smelly I was. Which was completely normal in the bush. Every time you get to town you’re all of a sudden like, whoops, I’m feral.

I signed the last track register book, then we walked up to Gourmandise cafe and I had a (good!) soy latte and a croissant. Second breakfast. And then, back to reality.

It feels like something is happening. A really deep, seismic shift. The deep cores of worthlessness, hopelessness, self disgust and despair are being aired, opened, examined. In a new light – the light of feminism. There’s a part of me unfurling – it feels inevitable and un-doable. And as though it’s going to change a bunch of stuff. There’s a crack, and I can finally let the light in. I don’t need to hide anymore. I can actually be me. Embody myself. All of myself. With love and acceptance. And without blame or judgement. If feels like I might finally be able to love myself. For reals. I’m kind of shy and excited to meet this fresh new self who’s emerging, like a soft pink new born. Like when you’re a kid and you see your favourite cousin who you haven’t seen for ages, for a few moments you feel shy and don’t make eye contact. Then one of says ‘you want to go play?’ and then you hold hands and go off together, inseparable until your parents force you into two separate cars at the end of the night. It’s like that, meeting this new, soft and shiny self. Only this time we get to hold hands and run off together, and not leave in two cars. This time we stay and play together. Right now though, I’m still at the shy part. I’m anticipating it’s going to be fun but I’m not yet brave enough to offer my hand. It also feels good not rushing it. I can sense the unfurling, but there’s no shortcut or speeding it up. It’s going to bloom in it’s own time. Somehow I feel certain that it’s happening though. Even though there’s not that much evidence yet, something feels different.

Each day, each km, each step – like gentle waves, each washing away another fine layer of silt, to eventually reveal what beauty lay beneath the whole time – beauty that was concealed. Me.

The Bibbulmun: day fourty nine – Torbay -> Muttonbird -> Sandpatch

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

Well – it’s the final night. + Tomorrow is the final day. Slept v badly last night. Aching left hip. Got up around 11pm to take pain killers (panadol wasn’t cutting it, needed voltaren) and have a wee – saw that stars were so good I went back to hut for camera to do a little night photography! Still not that good at it. Saw a shooting star. Finally got back to (restless) sleep. Awake 4:30, got up. Left hut early thinking I’d walk to cosy then make a coffee. Got there around 6, to SUCH a beautiful morning – went for a dip instead! Couldn’t resist the early morning sea. Shower after to remove salt at the public toilet block there, the shower water was colder than sea (gave me a cold headache, instantly!). Mum arrived with a brewed coffee in a travel mug from Dad! Perfect. And Poet. She walked up to end of Perkins with us, then drove everyone’s packs and Alison around to Muttonbird.

Walk on beach was so cruisy without packs, and was a glorious morning. Light breeze, sunny, water unbelievable jewel/aqua colour. Many surfers @ Mutts. Reached top of stairs 5 min before Mum! She was bearing fresh apples. She ended up walking through to wind farm carpark from Mutts. Was nice, good chatting. 1 x tiger and 2 x legless lizards or baby pythons.

Around the wind farm, saw pod of dolphins moving along the coast the same speed as me. Fishing first, then surfing! So magic to watch them*. Long and dragging last 2.5 km to hut – very windy here. Got in around 1pm and did all the things. That feeling/dilemma of what to do first is still here! Every time I got into a hut it was this frantic feeling of like, should I unpack? Or eat? Or set up my stuff? Or take gaiters and shoes off? Or toilet? Etc.

Others weren’t far behind me (30-60min). Mum gave me some red wine in my water bottle so have become one of those people I mocked at the beginning of the walk, bringing in alcohol! Want to celebrate/commemorate my last night. Bibbulmun being name of Noongyar tribe known for walking long distances for ceremonial rituals. Must have my own ceremonial ritual for finishing.

Have sore throat – not sure whether dehydrated or actual sore? Have drunk heaps.

Not sure what to think for final day – just doing same as any other arvo- read red book, eat, Harry, write. Last night with hip discomfort and not being able to sleep, was ready to be done. Looking forward to real bed. Going to the gong tomorrow with the gang (March girls and Helle) and Mum and Rachel. Straight back into life.

Feet not too bad today but feeling left hip again. Plus now throat – ready for some comfort. Things I want to do when I get back: Facebook less – maybe only on a Friday? Potentially no social media at all…unsub from more newsletters/emails. Get out of city to proper nature every 1-2 months. Volunteer at horse place. Get some equine assisted therapy/learning at Torquay. Not get on laptop first thing ANY DAY. Not even for yoga/meditation. Too easily swayed. Somehow get more ocean time in.

So looking forward to giving my feet some loving: body, this has been hard and I’ve asked a lot of you; and you’ve carried me well. Thank you body. Very clear signals from body that need to stop – don’t feel could turn around and keep going! Hut mates over the whole trip spanned 18-78 – crazy. Didn’t matter as track important here, not age. Nice learning. Also think will let go of website and change to just be a blog, and not focused on mental health. Just at this instant, I want to be done. It’s blustering/windy and my mossie net/tent is flapping about and there’s no where to escape from the wind, my hips are so sore and I just had a hankering for a shower and comfy bed. It’s good, it helps decrease the sadness about finishing. Going to see now about red wine and cheese.

*see pics of them on instagram

The Bibbulmun: day fourty eight – West Cape Howe -> Torbay

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

Beautiful easy day. 16.5km. Wound through quite a lot of burnt section around West Cape Howe, from fires in March this year. I actually don’t mind the burnt parts – visibility is great, no shrubs to hide snakes or scratch you. There’s a kind of stark beauty to the blackened trunks and branches. Up onto a high hill overlooking Shelley Beach – beautiful. Some people on the launch ramp but no  hang gliding action as I watched so kept going. Just continually blown away by the jewel blue/aqua of the sea – especially Dingoes beach. So amazing. So lucky.

2-3 crows/ravens hanging around me at the moment – Lisa would say it’s meaningful. Protectors, or something to do with my soul journey. Got into Torbay hut around 11:30, instant mash and tuna sachet and cheese for lunch – YUM. Chill out, went down to Hartmans beach with Lynne and Alison. Walked another km or so to check out the potential burn diversion but no sign of it – although I could see the burnt section. So many orchids around here – I’ve lived here all this time and never knew! Less than 40km to go now until THE END. It feels weird being here in this oh so familiar land. It kind of makes the whole walk feel surreal, like it never happened. Starting feels so long ago. Halfway feels so long ago!!

Met a girl walking north to Denmark this morn, carrying a huge pack! She had a chunk of foam under her hip belt and each shoulder – too bony, she said haha. Plus it’s a pillow when she stops. Lyn just pointed to the beach and said, so we’re doing the left side of this tomorrow? And I said, all the beach you can see, we’re going to walk tomorrow. No! She says. That’s more than 4km! Uh uh, I said. All the way to the rocks. Haha.

And this hut is where it began. Being here on NYE last year with Mum and Rach, seeing all the entries in the book of solo e2e’s, thinking, I could do the whole Bibb. Maybe I will. And now look at me: I did. Mum will meet us at Cosy Corner beach tomorrow and pick up our packs and take them to Muttonbird. She’ll walk a little way with Poet too. I’m pretty sure this trio of crows is the same trio that was hanging with me down at Hartmans. Also not sure that I’ve gotten that much better at sitting around doing nothing. Still wanting distraction with Harry, phone (when internet avail). Even this writing.

I’ve got a vague headache – have had for last couple of days. Not sure what from. My nervous system is definitely chilled out. It’s nice. Still not sure how I feel about going back to city life. Feet not as sore today so that’s always a thing that makes me think I could keep going. It’s funny with Lyn here, even though she’s a hiker and did the 1st section/s, she’s on a diff schedule/zone to the rest of us. She slept in much later this morn, and the other 2 left without her after she hadn’t packed up and was hanging out having her second coffee. Perhaps that is her normal way, but all the rest of us are so in the habit of just wake up, pack up, eat, go. I woke around 4:50 today – a sleep in! Dozed around listening to waves until 5:30. Fucking mozzies flying around woke me – even thought they can’t bite me through the tent, the noise still bothers me. Just my fingers are brown and tan – and I think I have a few more face wrinkles. I haven’t lost much weight – maybe just the tiniest bit off my legs. I actually don’t want to put it back on. I feel like I already put some that I lost back on, maybe being in so many (relative to first 2 sections) towns and carrying more food? Eating 2 packets of ‘2 serves’ back countries meals a day, on many days! Thanks to Peter and Sonja’s boxes. Also much in the way of energy/protein/fruit bars. It’s my second last night. I’m already transitioning, making plans to catch up with friends when I’m in albs etc.

Enjoying reading the red hut book* notes of Seri, Bacon, etc. Seri wrote one yesterday, I’m bummed I didn’t photo it – something like: ‘if to get ‘track fitting’ means that my body hurts all over but I still keep walking everyday anyway, then I suppose I have gotten track fitting. ‘ So glad I’m not the only one who’s still in pain @ this point in the game! She said she had sore shoulders, back, ankles, feet. I’m mostly feet/ankles. Also hips ache, but that could happen anywhere. I also had grand thoughts of getting track fit and that I’d find myself being this walking machine that just gets through the km without much effort/pain. Nope, not at all. Similarly to Seri, my version of track fit means being in loads of pain and just walking anyway. Hah.

Getting hungry again – 4:40. Might have pre-dinner of more mash and tuna. Bag too heavy! Don’t need much to walk into Albs, only 12km from Sandpatch – assuming I make the double from here tomorrow. How will I manage to stop eating when I get home??

Things I’m looking forward to

– a gong

– a haircut

– wearing a dress

– a bath

– clean toenails

– clean self in general

– shaving my legs

– grooming in general.

I’d actually like to embrace that feminine side of myself more – I have something about wearing makeup/heels/dresses/dressing up, where I have this story that if you do it it’s tacky or tryhard or means you don’t feel good about yourself/are sucked in by consumerism. But why not embrace my feminine side and enjoy feeling pretty? I can be manly and tough when I’m doing aikido. Time for new mental stories. Same with stories about money – if you have it/want it that means you’re spoilt/up yourself/a wanker – GET RID OF THAT STORY – new story – dressing up and wearing heels and makeup and having styled hair can be an enjoyable way of expressing my femininity – and I AM NOT too dorky to do it. (Although someone might need to teach me how to put on makeup (Youtube?))**

*shared journals in each hut where hikers write down thoughts or rambles or draw pictures etc

**Note: my level of dorkiness has not improved since finishing the Bibb

The Bibbulmun: day fourty seven – Denmark -> West Cape Howe

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

Today was the conundrum day – to skip a part or to not skip a part? The track crosses over the Denmark inlet, so you either have to catch a ferry across (which is super expensive…I can’t remember exactly how much but like $80? $100?) or else get a lift around the inlet to the other side and meet the track there. If you catch a lift around, you can either get dropped off at the point where the ferry docks (thus doing the ‘whole’ track) or else skip a few km (6km maybe?) and start where the track hits the road and turns inland.

Lynne and I did the full today, but dropped our packs at the road junction, so had the first little part with no pack on. Was a dream walking without carrying anything. It’s so heavy with food and mouthwash (from dentist for my gum) and big gas (no little gas cans available to buy in town!) etc. Feet v sore (what else is new). Glad I did the full thing, was quite chill for 27km. 2 small snakes, 1 x bobby. Other Lyn also hutting with us now. Was a nice night last night – Helle and I went to pub for dinner, then came back and the March girls were drinking wine at the YHA. Had a cider @ pub then a glass of wine at YHA! MG’s were laughing – joking about going in the float tank at Mt Romance and them not letting us in as our feet would contaminate the tank haha. Googled it, tribal dreaming centre is closed 🙁 so no float tank for me! Gong still going though! Only 16.5km tomorrow – hope I sleep in. (unlikely). Had a good talk during the walk today with Lynne about relationships and career and stuff. She met her current husband (of 30+years) when she was married to someone else. Who knows what life will bring. Not much to report on really; track unremarkable except easy climbing – they mapped it along the contours well! And nice views over lowlands. Especially recognizing lowlands, really have a sense I’m in my homeland. Have done 5km of tomorrow’s section too, in the past – to Torbay! My local! Crazy times. Who knew I could last this long with feet this sore. Awoke before 4am again today – ready for bed now (it’s 5pm).

The Bibbulmun: day fourty six – William Bay -> Denmark

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

1st half of morning glorious. Left at 5:15am, sunrise, early light on beach, A SEAL just chilling on the beach, challenging but good walk up Mt Hallowell, good view from top. Then it was tricky going down the other side; skirting granite on broken pieces, guidebook confusion and not being sure I was on the right track, thinking I was further along than I was (such disappointment to realise you’ve overestimated how far you’ve walked); throbbing tooth (hard to eat anything), sore feet – right foot sore all of a sudden in new place and bruised on top for some reason – somehow stabbed myself with a stick maybe?

Then hit suburbia and too much gravel and bitumen and concrete for my liking.  Felt like a long time from getting to the edge of Denmark to getting into the centre of town. Got there around 11:30am, saw dentist (he fit me in on his lunch break thankyouthankyouthankyou) – luckily not a problem with my filling, but a minor infection of my gum. Hurt when he stuck the pickstick in but feeling better now! Lunch @ Ravens, grocery shopping, and trying to help Lynne change her flight – she was using my phone all arvo to try and get it sorted! So tired after all these 4am wakeups and 20+km days.

 

The Bibbulmun: day fourty five – Boat Harbour -> William Bay

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

Brought my journal up to the rock behind the hut here, sitting (lying) in the sun to write. It’s, I dunno, 1:30-ish – blue sky and sunny. Arrived @ hut around 10:15, got up at 4am to cross Mazoletti beach before high tide. Was just a glorious day. Got got by a wave early on in the walk, haha thanks ocean 🙂

Best sunrise have had so far on the trip, looking out over the rugged coast, just stunning. Got to the long beach (Parry’s) around 8:00, had morning tea @ the camp ground. (Toilet paper! Soap! Paper towels!). Tide was out but starting to come back in as walked – sand was firm 95% of the way. Glad we got up early, crossed the beach from 8:15 – 10ish, high tide @ about 1pm and even then there were a few waves that came all the way up to the eroded beach edge.

Saw a few roos on the track, they weren’t particularly scared. Another great orchid, a tiny blue crab on the beach…Just a beautiful day. I’m really hungry. Not heaps of food left. Going to have to eat some though. Have lots of the choc bar thing that I made before I left but fuck, I don’t want to ear it. Might have to. With precious cheese slice with crackers for a treat after. Brought a book (novel) from Peaceful Bay – justified as only carrying three days of food – so have been lying around reading it – absolute luxury/bliss! Should be able to make the 20km into Denmark with a snickers and cliff bar eh? Plus breakfast. Want to go swim @ William bay but don’t want to walk home again up the big hill. Realised I wrote that today is day 45. Finishing on day 50. Craziness! Sad to finish but happy for feet to heal; happy for a bed and clean toe nails.

The Bibbulmun: day fourty four – Peaceful Bay -> Boat Harbour

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

Wow a hard day. 8h for 23 km. Lots of up and down, longest distance we’ve had in a while and the canoe inlet crossing – which wasn’t super hard but took time as only one canoe on our side, and we took a few back to the other side, which meant multiple paddling back and forth. Good day though, was starting to feel I was getting soft after all the easy short days between Walpole and PB. No longer! Feet v sore today, between toes/ball of foot on right. Heel on left and arches, and my tooth on left side swelling up again. Difficult to chew anything hard on the left side of my mouth.

Feel very tired. Didn’t sleep all that well – Lyn snored (sharing with three other people for $60 a night!), and I woke early (around 4am) and couldn’t get back to sleep. Needed to pee but toilet block too far away. Oh well. Early night. Sharing hut tonight with Joelle from Switzerland/England/Tassie. Worldly? But unprepared/unorganized and carrying too much. She’s decreased her pack weight (in Denmark) to about 18kg (! what did she start with!). Think with all this pain and a few hard days will be feeling pleased to finish after all! Passed a cool rock shelf thing today, +++roos and went down to sheltered, beautiful bay near hut (Boat Harbour). Such a nice area!

The Bibbulmun: day fourty three – Rame Head -> Peaceful Bay

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

Bit of a restless night with achy bits and sharp pain in right toe/foot. Mozzie in the morning around my head. Slow start to morning, which was nice – was a beautiful cost/ridge walk into PB. Talked with mum about many things, some of which prompted tears. How can I think about making these life decisions if I don’t know who/where I am? Of course not happy in work/life/relationship if don’t know where sit in the world….anyway. Dunno. Tapped into some grief about some of that.

Got into town, we had a coffee and went back down to the beach, and I went for a swim (!) it was cold! Dad arrived, fish and chips, bought food for dinner. All good. You get fuck all for $60 a night, what a rip. What are ya gonna do though. Feel like a bitch. Why am I like this? So grumpy and hating on so many things? The story in my head is ‘there’s something wrong with me that I’m thinking/acting like this’.

Saw a family of seals near some rocks, beautiful. Weren’t doing much but were cute all the same. The March Girls are planning a short cut along the beach tomorrow morning, do I do it? My legit-meter is like, ‘ding ding ding’, but I’ve already done a surplus of km…would prob only be a diff of one or two. What if I missed something good though! But beach might be really nice…oh well. Not too much in terms of a dilemma. Two nights through to Denmark…meant to be three hard days, but kind of looking forward to it after these cruisy few days! Going to be finished so soon.

The Bibbulmun: day fourty two – Giants -> Rame Head

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

Yesterday was so cruisy I was thinking I’d be bummed about not doubling today, BUT. Wildish night, woke to rain and ?hail many times. Some rain during the walk but not too bad, just squalls passing though as per usual. In last couple of km to conspicuous beach though, up on the ridge of the dunes, really windy! Blowing me sideways off the track kind of windy. Had to take the cockblocker off or it would be lost (come at me boys). Saw Mum and Dad pulling in as I walked the final ridge, good timing. Also, randomly, Ben Carter with his girlfriend (small world). Had chicken sangas and raw cheesecake and rooibos tea that Mum and Dad brought. Went up to the lookout, then the viewing platform. One of the windiest land experiences I can remember. SO WINDY. Somehow beach and cliff turned into wind tunnel and it was so strong on the platform you could literally lean into it. Was like being on a show ride, was hilarious and fun. Just so love mother nature! So much wild!

Mum joined me from there, just 3km to hut but was rain (sideways) and strong wind and sand dunes. Made for v tough walking and on arriving here was glad to be single hutting! Peaceful Bay tomorrow with the much lauded fish and chips – don’t want to get hopes too high as got excited about hot choc/coffee at the Tree Top Walk and that turned out shite. Told Mum of some of my existential crisis-ness and she said I sound like a product of my generation. Chopping/changing, I think she is referring to. Maybe. But how does that help me? It doesn’t.

Hungry hungry hippo again this arv. Probs coz I’m sitting here doing sweet FA. Lying in baggie as too cold in wind not to. Shelter is fairly sheltered but even so. Nice hut here, love the coastal views. Just love the coast. Where will life go when I get back? Why do I want all the answers now? Is that not a lesson I have learned in the last 6 weeks, to not get caught up making plans and assumptions and worrying about the future coz you have no idea how it will go? (What day you’ll arrive, how the weather will turn out, how sore your feet will be then, etc). So then, just enjoy this part and then let it happen when you get back, right? Right enough I reckon.

Feel v sleepy all of a sudden. Saw the ‘king in his carriage’ orchids today, before Ficifolia road, then a new stripey one – unidentified as yet. Several roos – seems to be roos and not wallabies in this section. 842km today. Far out, long way. Feet still hurting. Don’t think they’ll stop. Right toe hurting yesterday for first time, at the joint. Also last night – took pandol during the night to get back to sleep. Hips also v uncomfy – kinda jerky uncomfortable feelings. V unpleasant. That is my new answer for what I miss most – a real bed. Comfy mattress and warm doona although my baggies is v warm, when it’s done up I can’t stretch out as much as I’d like. It’s 1520. And I want to sleep. Still 2-3 h til tea time. Nearly got lost around 5.3 or 5.5km, turning off firebreak. So distracted by views of sea, kept going on firebreak. Stopped for photo, then just happened to turn around. Saw trail about 5m into bush, with short sign post with waugal on it! Unusual as not many waugals in this southern section, so very lucky happened to see it!