Bibbulmun Day 21: Wednesday April 25, 2018

Km 661.8 – 701.1 (39.3 km)

Dog Pool – Woolbales Campsite

I dreamt I was camped on a mountaintop with views of a tall jaggered, snow covered mountain peak in front of me. Not sure where that came from, I couldn’t be further from that landscape. I was camped on a sandy, flat site with trees all around me.

Even though it didn’t rain through the night, the tent was still saturated from condensation and the wet ground. Another day of carrying a wet tent but at least the weather is predicted to be fine and sunny. I was packed and out of the Dog Pool campsite by 5am keen to make the most of this predicted fine day. A few hikers at the shelter were also up and packing as I passed on my way out. I quitely called out a greeting but they did not notice me.

I was expecting to see a starry sky. But it was black, not a star in sight. I was not even out of camp 15 minutes when my torch started to fade and then died. This is the third battery in three weeks and I had no more spares. Luckily the first 12 kilometres from camp is on a dirt road so there is plenty of space. I thought how good would this section be to walk by moonlight. I tried walking in the dark but it was no good. I couldn’t see and remembered my phone had a torch app. Saved by my phone. I walked like that until it started to rain. It was almost 2 hours after leaving camp before a particularly gloomy morning revealed itself. And the rain just kept coming. So much for weather predictions.

Even the birds were not impressed, offering a small chirp here and there from the shrubs surrounding the road. And then the birds disappeared. It was a long, lonely wet road walk for 12 kilometres followed by 8km of narrow overgrown trail. With the vegetation being so water laden it was like walking through a water fountain. The only good thing about this section, in these conditions is that it was not likely to be snakey. That’s what I believed and that made it OK. I was water logged by the time I got to Mt Chance campsite. I was so relieved to make it to the shelter so I could take a break out of the rain.

But as soon as I stopped I started to get really cold so thought it best to just keep moving. I could see Mt Chance in front of the shelter – but in this foul weather I just did not have the inclination to see it any closer. The morning hiking, despite the unpleasant conditions was redeemed somewhat by the sight of a number of colourful plants that were still in flower. One shrub had the most beautiful smell when I brushed past it – a bit like lemon verbena.

From Mt Chance the trail follows a grassy flat field. It was nice to duck in behind the plants where the air was nice and warm.

It was almost 12 before the gloomy grey sky parted a little to let a sliver of blue sky show through. And then the rain stopped. The rest of the afternoon I was hiking mainly through silent grassland with occassional chirping of crickets. Filtered sun began to appear on trail and I could finally take off my rain gear.

I was surprised to pass through a relatively small section of karri forest before descending back to grasslands. The sun was fully out and on my back. I couldn’t believe the contrast from the gloom of the morning.

By mid-afternoon I started counting down to my destination at Woolbales campsite. My feet were wet and painful and the campsite couldn’t come quick enough. I made it to camp at 4pm ever so relieved to finally stop. I found three hikers were already set up. I met Malcolm, Annie and Ian who seem nice. They are from Perth and hiking the section of trail from Northcliffe to Walpole. They invited me to play cards with them after dinner. But I couldn’t wait to get off my feet so had to decline. I managed to dry my tent a bit in the late afternoon sun.

There was a red sunset and the moon is out shining bright. I wonder if that means good weather tomorrow.

Sadly a large section of the trail is closed tomorrow for a prescribed burn. All the campsites from here to Walpole are closed and an alternative route and camp have been established. It means that I will get to the sea at Mandalay Bay, which is 10km away, and then turn away from the ocean on the deviation around the closed section of trail.