I had to have a cooked breakfast to start to the day given fine dining is off the cards for a while. A nice helping of bacon and eggs on toast from a nearby cafe, one of the few opened early on a Saturday as the go, washed down with strong coffee of course.
I had some chores to do before I could hit the trail including tracking down a store with gas canisters and do the food shopping. I made the short 1.5km walk to a local camping store for gas and made it Coles for the food. For some reason I always seem to fall back to tried and true foods for long walks. It’s not particularly healthy but has the calories to keep me fuelled. Most important it is easy cooking consisting of boiling water.
So with a pack chockers with a variety of muesli bars, noodles, packet tuna, cous cous and pop tarts it was time to hit the trail. Finding the southern terminus was challenge number one. I’d taken a wrong turn or two and hadn’t even started, completely obvious to passing a couple of trail markers or Waguls. The Wagul is a depiction of the rainbow serpent, a Dreamtime totem of great importance to many aboriginal cultures, the creator of rivers, painted black over on yellow triangle marker. Waguls would Mark my way for the next 1000km and appear every couple of hundred metres or so.
Finding the southern terminus around 10am it was time to kick off. The hardest part of every great adventure is taking the first step. I took mine winding through the streets of Albany.
Traffic provided the ambient sounds to the start of start of the track as it lead through the back streets of Albany.
The Waguls come thick and fast and you have to keep your eyes peeled. Soon enough I was looking ahead and missed another turn having to back track 200m metres. I trust that the rest of the track won’t be spent constantly backtracking. It was pretty much just through town though until we could branch into the backwoods.
The track led around Shoal Bay the harbour of Albany on a well maintained bitumen track for a good couple of km’s.
The plan for the day was to ease into this hike and not push too hard, too soon, aiming for Sandpatch Shelter 15km away. But by 11:30am only an hour and half in I only had 5km to go to my intended destination. Knowing I’d arrived around 1pm made the decision to keep on trucking easy. I can’t stop at 1pm with so much day light left. So much for easing into it. There was no way I was not going to continue. What I would I do for a whole afternoon at an empty hut site?
Just before Sandpatch I ran into Will, a Brit who was on his final stretch towards Albany to finish his southbound journey. We traded stories for 10 mins and went about our business. The lunch stop at short lunch at Sandpatch was fairly short. A couple of salami and cheese wraps on lime and chilli tortillas.
I still haven’t got my pack started out properly and rearranged some gear. It will come good over the next few days as everything finds its place like furniture in a house, not to be moved for a while once it’s found it’s place. Makes it easier when ferreting through in the dark as well, you exactly where to look and what each item feels like.
From Sandpatch the trail meandered along the sand cliffs overlooking the southern ocean.
Surf travelling from thousands of kilometres building to their final crescendo and pounding down hard on the rocky coast. Hugepowerfulllwaves.
Intermittent showers blanketed the afternoon skies. Looking out to sea you could see them charging across blue towards land pushed by gusty winds. Only light and not enough to warrant pulling out the rain gear. Only 10 kilometres to go to the next shelter Muttonbird I took it relatively easy, cursing my shoe selection and contemplating purchasing some new ones and having them express posted down to a trail town from perth. They are the same shoes I worn on the 2nd PCT trip, they fit like a glove but we’re not liking the sandy terrain so much. My arches were on fire. Nothing to do with having walked 80km just a week ago along the East Gippsland Rail Trail… well maybe. I have a stiffer pair on inner soles which I will have a play will tomorrow.
I reached Muttonbird just on 4:30 and met Peter another Brit in his mid 50’s. He’s also NOBO but taking it easy, having walked the Bibb Track end to end last year and only two weeks up his sleeve this time round, he is aiming for Walpole. We spent the final hours of the afternoon with some nice chatter which continued over cooking our dinners. For dinner I always like to start with the heaviest food items as it gives me a sense of having a lighter pack. In this case it was Mexican rice and tuna.
Looking around at the terrain today it dawned on me that I might be fixed to staying at the shelter sites as there just aren’t suitable camp site in between. The scrub is super thick and sharp coastal bush. Once in the bush this might change but for now it looks like shelter to shelter it is.
The rain is back while I write this but we are perfectly protected in the 3 sided shelter of Muttonbird. See what tomorrow brings.