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 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 thirty eight – Long Point -> Mt Clare -> Walpole

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

Another day. Enjoyed most of it except the last about 2km on gravel bitumen road into Walpole. Left early (6:15) and got to Mount Clare around 9:30 – too early for lunch! Went up on a rock at the lookout area and managed to get reception – called the business I bought my pack from and they are express posting me a replacement hip belt, hurray!

Got into Walpole about 12:30. Saw the lady who gave me the apple in town! Haha. Nearly had an exploding poo moment on the way there – all the bush was too bushy to get into and dig a hole! Made it in time though. Phew. Came across a big roo in the middle of track, he just chilled. All the others who were going to stay at My Clare rocked up in town (I thought they might!) So I won’t be hiking alone out of Walpole. Sonja ended up helicoptered out of Woolbales  🙁  and sent to Bunbury hospital for assessment. Very sad. Peter left a note for us at the Visitor’s centre, they bequeathed their resupply boxes to us! Little bit excited – even though profiting from their bad fortune. Free food is free food, after all!

Have done washing, shower, food…Don’t know what to do with myself! Sitting around in the sun! It’s very mood boosting. More rain is coming but will enjoy sun while it lasts. Going out for dinner with current gang, which includes 3 March girls, Helle and Jerry. A motely crew.

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 twenty two – REST DAY! Balingup

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

Resty rest, big brekkie of THE MOST amazing rye sourdough, eggs, left over roast veg from last night. ‘Lunch’ at Lady Marmalade in Kirup – consisting of lemon meringue cake, coffee, almond croissant. BEST. Dinner at Greenbushes ‘exchange hotel’. Sunday roast – with Clare and Lyn (from the March Girls). Basically just the most amazing food in this tiniest of towns – Balingup is so little there’s literally no where open for dinner. You have to drive to the next town to find somewhere to eat.

**Note: I am still craving the taste of that rye sourdough. Also I looked up the lemon meringue cake recipe when I got home and I’ve made it several times. It’s the best.

The Bibbulmun: day twenty – Noggerup -> Grimwade

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

Again, just getting through the day rather than enjoying or savouring it. Feet seem to be getting worse. Had my slowest day yet, <4km p/h with many rest stops (albeit short ones) and feet still killing by time arrived (23km). Annoying as it seems feet are only thing holding me back from walking more – rest of body isn’t too bad (although shoulders sore every day and left hip…).

Fucking cold weather – had some hail during the walk, and just lying here my fingers are cold. Looking forward to not sharing the hut with these guys after tonight. Have discovered that I don’t like walking just in-front of or just behind people – competitiveness kicks in and I keep sort of rushing. Odd weather today – clear/cloudy/still/windy/rainy/hail/sunny/freezing/warm – like being in Melbourne! (haha). Happy to see first sighting of peppermint trees – tiny teaser of being closer to the coast (long ways to yet hobbits).

More about this couple – it’s seeing the nagging (her at him mostly) that makes me not want to be like that with Linton. ‘I thought you were saving your phone battery’ ‘I am’ ‘well you’re listening to music and scrolling thought it…that’ll use it up’. It’s funny how it looks when you see it in other people…Bit poopy again today, after a ‘solid’ morning. Suspect solidness may have been from gluten, and lack of solidness from ++ sugar?? Eating so much sugar. It’s gross. Currently about to eat a snickers while I listen to some Harry. (These guys also have sore feet – at least it’s not just me).

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!

How to eat crickets

I’m currently trying to plan what I’m going to eat while I’m doing my upcoming long distance hike. One of the sticking points is how to get enough protein.

I don’t eat milk, so this cuts out many milk based protein powders. There are many vegan options, generally made of pea, soy, or rice protein, but when I think about the amount of processing needed to extract the protein from those legumes/grains, I don’t want to eat them. (Not to mention the colours, flavours, additives etc). And sure, I love nuts and legumes, but the actual eating of them (or too many of them) can quite easily upset my delicate flower of a digestive system. Also, they are quite heavy to carry.

So, how to get enough protein? In my normal life as well, I have this issue. I could just eat meat, but I’m less and less inclined toward this option. Partly because I feel sad thinking about killing an animal, and partly because I feel sad about what farming said animals is doing to our earth. (Also in a hiking context, jerky is often full of preservatives and sugar, as well as being super expensive!) So, the idea of eating bugs has come up on varied occasions, and I’ve been starting to get interested in them for a while. I caught up with a friend recently who is also getting interested in bugs, and after talking excitedly about the concept I started looking into it a little more. I was surprised to see how many new bug-based foods are popping up. Protein bars, chips (crisps), generally made of crickets over other bugs.

There are also specialty foods available to buy, like chocolate covered spiders (the thought of this makes me want to vomit and shiver at the same time) as well as high class bugs used in certain restaurants. Crickets though, they are big news. And, it turns out, big protein. 70% protein, in fact. Also a great source of calcium. And did I mention the sustainable aspects? Much less water, less land needed, less processing equipment, less methane, less blood and guts

So I found only a couple of places that sell cricket powder/flour online in Aus, and they were both fuck-off expensive. About $90 a kg! Which is prohibitively expensive, in my book, for something you are planning to eat more than a gram of at a time. I widened my search and found some much more affordable options based out of Thailand. Now, does buying an overseas cricket powder cancel out all the environmental benefits of eating the crickets versus meat in the first place? I don’t know, I haven’t done the maths. Possibly.

I got all excited and posted on facebook, ‘who wants to buy some cricket powder with me and share the shipping cost?!’ After preparing myself for being inundated with enthusiastic comments of similarly forward thinking sustainable people like myself, I was surprised to only get one comment. From my friend with whom I’d had the cricket conversation before all this started. Hmmpf. Ok, fine. So instead of going and buying up a couple of kgs, I just got a sample of 100g. And I am glad I did.

Attempt number one

I got the sample from the first company after a week or two. Opened the little foil sachet up and was first up surprised at the colour. I saw some pics online of the powder, and was expecting pale sort of beige colour. But this was more dark green/brown. Then I gave it a sniff and, ergh, it was not good. I’d seen it described as a mild, nutty flavour. I would not under any circumstances describe this as such. I would more put it along the lines of meaty, mealy, organic, animal mulch scent.

I thought, maybe it’s just the smell. Maybe it’s like gelatin, which is an animal product, which smells gross in the packet, and when you dissolve it in hot water, but once it cools down it doesn’t smell much like animal.

So I made some pancakes. I made them the way I often make a savoury pancake for myself; eggs, zucchini, a touch of rice milk, salt. And two heaped teaspoons of cricket powder. I fried up the first few little guys in coconut oil. I could smell the mealy meaty smell wafting up from the pan. Gross. I tasted them. Gross. They tasted like they smelled. I thought fuck, I’m not wasting all this pancake mix. How do I hide it? So I added a bunch of cacao powder and some rice malt syrup. Chocolate pancakes. Yum!

Not yum. Chocolate animal flavoured pancakes. I am a generally somewhat frugal and non-wasteful person by nature (Food waste! Sustainability! $$!) so I thought shit, I have to eat all this. I cooked up the rest of the batter, in little pancake blobs. I was eating it as I was cooking it, to try and make it disappear quicker. This was not a stack of pancakes I wanted to sit down and savour. However, I still ended up with a small stack of them. I forced them down, sitting outside on the balcony. By the end, I was literally holding my nose while I stuffed them in my mouth, and * almost * got to the point of retching. It was FUCKING TERRIBLE. But I was like shit, $40 a kg, I have to eat this! (Food waste! People starving! Precious cacao!)

I was pretty disappointed. I texted my boyfriend later in the day saying, ‘I tried out the cricket powder. It was not good’. While writing him this text, the thought of it actually made me feel sick. It was like when you smell a bad smell, and then its almost like that smell gets stuck in your nose? I totally had cricket pancakes stuck in my nose all day.

I wanted to give up there and then, but I had already ordered a second sample from a different company to compare. I was not waiting with bated breath.

Attempt number two

When it arrived, I cautiously opened the package. Pale beige. Good start. Gave it a sniff, and while there was a very very slight animal-y kind of undertone, I’d say the main scent was more like malt. So I was willing to try again. This time I made a pan-cooked quick bread, using some spare gluten free sourdough starter I’ve been fermenting, a bit of almond meal, a splash of rice milk and a teaspoon of cricket powder. I’m pleased to say it was a success. No gross flavour, it blended in well with the other ingredients, and I had a slightly higher protein content to my bread. The amount of protein in one teaspoon though? Pretty negligible. I want to try and increase it to the recommended serving size of TWO TABLESPOONS but I’m afraid of wasting a whole bunch of food if it turned into a repeat of attempt number one.
I’m also planning to try out attempt number three – the ‘protein bar’. I’m thinking coconut oil, nuts/seeds, cacao powder/butter, chia seeds, and cricket. Oh and maybe some rice malt syrup, but not much, as I’m trying to condition my body to run more off fat and less off carbs, so Im not relying on a constant carb intake while Im doing my upcoming long distance hike in a couple of months time.

Does anyone know of a good way to eat crickets?? Also if you have ideas of what I can do with the leftover sample number 1 powder…please let me know…