Bibbulmun Day 22: Thursday April 26, 2018
Km 701.1 – 740.3 (-7km deviation – 32.2 km)
Woolbales Camp –Walpole
The Woolbales Campsite log book had a comment about hanging food as there were mice around. Since I was in my tent away from the shelter I thought I’d be OK. I still double bagged and packed away anything mice might find attractive. So to my surprise I was woken in the middle of the night by rustling around the tent. I couldn’t see anything. When I switched off my torch I could see an outline of a tiny mouse running outside the roof of the tent. I shooed it off but it was persistent, it kept coming back. Finally the rustling the stopped I fell back to sleep. Hope the mouse went elsewhere. I couldn’t get a good look at it but I was hoping it was an Antichinus – a native mouse like animal.
Since I don’t have a working torch I decided to stay in camp untill it almost got light. I know there is a short section of track which is deviated not far from camp. Its marked with pink ribbons and goes through scrub. I didn’t like the idea of possibly missing it and tackling that in the dark. As son as I left camp I knew it was going to be a beautiful day. A few stars were out and the beginning of a stunning sunrise.
I was less then an hour from camp when the glory of the sunrise revealed itself. It was a sight for sore eyes. I was on a slight rise and could see in all directions. I was so moved by the simple beauty of it, I cried. This caught me by surprise. Maybe the gloomy weather of the past few days effected me more then I allowed myself to acknowledge. A low lying mist hung in the valleys ahead of me, it was freezing cold.
I could hear the roar of the southern ocean. And long before I reached Mandalay Bay I could smell the ocean spray.
Despite the brilliant sunrise, the sun was still held back by the obstinate clouds. And it wasn’t raining but that doesn’t mean my legs and feet stayed dry. The trail is quite overgrown so it was slow going and the dew on the plants left my legs and feet saturated. Some of the trailside vegetation was particularly nasty. It had sharp leaves and thorns and cut like a razor blade against bare skin. But there were also some beautiful plants in flower which balanced the difficulty of to getting through.
I kept getting closer to the sound of the pounding surf over numerous small vegetated dunes. And finally I reached the coast. It was as wild and isolated as I imagined. I stood for a while at the lookout letting it all sink in.
Then slowly I turned away from the ocean and headed out on a long road walk for the 18km deviation of the trail. It was 8km on a dirt road, across Highway 1 and then a 10km on a path adjoining the Mt Franklin South National Park. Several park ranger vehicles went past and each stopped to offer me a ride to the highway. But, despite my sore feet, I felt compelled to walk. It just had to get done.
The forested section after the road was not that dissimilar to sections of forest I’ve hike through already. And the birdsong was amazing. That was a bonus – no thundering ocean waves but plenty of birds. I rejoined the track at the John Read lookout for the last section into the town of Walpole. This section was probably the prettiest arrival into town of any so far. The trail meanders along the large Walpole River through quite different estuarine vegetation nearer to town.
I was so happy to reach this milestone and have plenty of time to do all the usual town chores. I stayed at the nice Tree Top Motel which is right in town. It will be a short hike tomorrow so I can stay a little longer at the motel just to rest my feet.