Bibbulmun Day 14: Wednesday April 18, 2018

Km 398.4 – 432.9 (35.1 km)

Balingup – Gregory Brook

I was going to wait till sunrise to pack up this morning. But the local roosters had other ideas. Boy do they wake up early. At 4.15am one rooster started crowing and was soon joined in a chorus. Then they would stop and then start again. I was hoping they wouldn’t keep going till sunrise almost 2 hours away. I was awake, so I packed up. The tent fly was soaked.

Walking out of town in the early morning blue light I liked what I saw of Balingup. There is not much to it but what is there had a lot of character.

I particularly liked this one I called Flossie – embrace the day she seems to say. Embrace the day indeed, I’m grateful for each day I can get up and do this.

Leaving town really was a walk in the park. The trail leaves town through a Tree Park. It was like a walk through the English countryside. An hour long excursion through the trees of the world.

The day was fresh and clean, perfect for hiking. A couple of hours after leaving town I reached a lookout and stopped to have breakfast. Great sweeping views over Balingup valley below. It was a lovely spot except for the mild discomfort of being stared at by a herd of cows while I ate. The did not move, even after I finished and started to move away, they kept starring.

And when the sun came out soon after I got back on trail, it was so perfect I felt like I could hike forever. a few wattles were still in flower which was nice to see. The morning was made even better by the sighting of this beautiful delicate orchid. On a slender stalk just two perfect flowers. My day could not get better.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the day. It was a hard day of hiking from here with very little reward. The forested treelined trail soon gave way to a unpaved road and a section through a cleared grazing paddock on private property. It was barren and winswept but it did not last all that long.

From here hiking got really hard. It was steep and passed through pine plantation before emerging onto a fire trail leading to Blackwoods Camp. The arrival at and departure from Blackwoods camp would have to be the hardest hiking and the camp such a huge disappointment when you get there. While the hut is well located with distant views of farmland beyond, it is surrounded by weeds and tree stumps. Trees were burnt in an old fire and needed to be cut down to remove the risk of them falling on the hut.

After the steep descent from Blackwoods camp the trail passes through private property before meandering along Blackwoods River. Blackberry weeds were rampant but thankfully have been cut back around the trail.

After crossing the bridge over Blackwood River it was hard slog up a steep fire trail to reach Millstream Dam. I was cursing the wet tent I was carrying. I couldn’t wait to reach the camp. The clouds darkened and a light rain started. It continued in squals until I reached camp. I was was ever so relieved to make it to the hut. It was a tough day of hiking, probably the hardest section so far.