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 fourty – Walpole -> Frankland River

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

Big brek this morning before leaving RL, of three eggs, 4 x bacon, field shroom, broccolini, spinach and 4 x toast. With butter. Good. Then bowl banana and strawbs with yoghurt for 2nd breakfast. Called Linton as I was leaving Walpole, had a less than pleasing chat. He hadn’t looked at any of my photos, even though I’d been excited about them and asked him to. So he looked them up while we were on the phone, and said ‘ who’s that random dude on the beach in the last picture? He looks alike a ken doll’. And I was like…It’s me. Then I was really offended and upset and even got a bit teary. (Can I blame it on hormones?). I’m really conflicted by this body image stuff. I understand it’s advertising and conditioning, and society’s fuckedupness, cognitively, but I still yearn to be a ‘pretty girl’ – straight teeth and nice hair and a well proportioned face. The older I get, instead of getting more comfortable with myself it seems like I’m becoming I’m less and less happy with my face shape – I just look jowly to me. Anyway, so I want to not care but I do care. I also want to do my thing without buying into the hype but I find myself conforming anyway. So frustrating.

I also realized that as well as wanting to break up with health, I have also kind of lost my love affair with science. I no longer believe science or its hype, especially related to health. So where does that leave me? When my whole last decade of life has been based on health science? I feel a bit lost and torn and almost like I’m grieving.

I want to be a different person in my relationships – more loving, forgiving, patient… How do you go about changing those parts of yourself, those ways of being? I feel like who I was is slowly draining out of me, all the things I thought I knew about myself are emptying, leaving a big hollow. But what will fill it? Being a creative? Energy healing? (nah just kidding). I want to also drain out those relationship aspects that I want to let go of. How to let them go? It feels uncomfortable, this shedding of a very familiar skin. I’m reluctant. I want things to stay the same. I could have made it in this industry, this niche. And now throw away everything I worked towards for a decade? For what? Something that I don’t even know yet? It’s not like I’m letting go of it to follow some other great passion.

How do I use this time of emptying and space to become the person I want to be? And will that be with or without Linton? What do you do with your life when you don’t want kids OR career?? Beautiful, beautiful walk today through Karri and tingle forrest. Those trees must have some wisdom – 400 years old. A lot of smoke in the air this arvo, hopefully from a prescribed burn. Feel very sore today and walked the 18.5km quite slowly. Started last and arrived last.

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 six – Donnelly River Village -> Tom Road

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

Nice cruisey walk into hut, around 4 hours. Feet hurt a bit – tried strapping with rock tape instead of bandages – hurt more today than bandages. Might try combo tomorrow. Meant to be showers tomorrow 🙁  then RAIN, thunderstorms and hail the next day 🙁 🙁 🙁 Felt a little anxious leaving Mum and town today – always a bit of a rip required to pull away from showers/food/comfort.

Such a gorgeous day though, sunny and warm – got sweaty for first time in couple of weeks!

My feet – have never known such a burden as that which I’ve placed on them in last 500km. They are doing well. Love you feet.

I thought I’d be spending more time writing and nutting out my life – I seem to be spending more of my hours in the huts listening to audio books and eating and chatting with people. Mr Deer and I, old bloke Phil (heading to Pemby, ‘Bucko’) and father and son duo going Pemby –> DRV. So much for solitude! Had lone male hiker at 2 nights between Balingup and DRV.

Not happy about weather forecast – was so enjoyable walking in good weather today! So enjoying being in karri tree land too. Finding when talking with other people I’m struggling to find empathy for them. Just don’t have much giving a shit for much these days. Depression? Not sure. Certainly haven’t felt depressed in last 3.5 weeks, but my mood/thoughts/behavior yesterday was pretty typical of when I’ve depressed. But now I wouldn’t say I’m depressed and yet find myself thinking/acting similarly – what does that mean? Told Linton about this conundrum and he said ‘Great! More things for you to thinking about with all your time walking.’ It is helpful to be able to head out into the bush and just have alone time, to soothe the soul. Could be hard to transition back into Real Life. I mean the luxuries are nice but the nervous system feels very settled here. Exercise, sunlight, 12 hours in bed…Noticing that sunlight hours are increasing. Even though rain is hard, I like being connected to the weather. Very easily forget it though.

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 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.

——

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.

——-

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 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 seven – Nerang -> Gringer Creek

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

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

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

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

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

*Harry Potter Audiobook

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Harry Potter audiobook