With a big day planned I was up just after 5am and away by 6 into the dark following the narrow beam of light emitting out front from my head torch. I planned to double hut again and had the biggest day ahead of me yet at close to 38km. Knowing I can push 30km within day light hours I gave myself an extra hour for the additional 7km or so. Whichever way I approached it I’d be walking in the dark at one end of the day and preferred to do it in the cool morning air. I was looking forward to having the last sandy sections and beach walking behind me as I moved inland.
The trail markers with there reflective surface stood out easily in the head torch and it didn’t take too much to navigate in the dark. Kangaroo’s eyes stand out as well as I find when startling a large male on the track. A bit of movement from me and he was fast out of there, bounding over the scrub off the side of the track and away.
It was back into the sandy hills initially. Knowing they would be my last was sweat relief. I pausing to watch the rising sun crest the horizon at one point.
Before I knew it I was on Mandalay Beach, the final beach section. The walking was just as tough as all previous beaches but this was offset by the natural light spilling across the waves and faraway cliffs from the still rising sun. The phone camera just cant do justice to the colours detected by the naked eye.
Off the beach there was a stair climb to a car park and toilet. You can’t pass up these opportunities.
It was then back into more sandy dunes for an hour or so before eventually the coastal scrub gave way and the eucalypts began. Immediately the soul change and the track surface improved to my favourite type, solid base with leaf litter.
From time to time the track led into what looked liked open clearing but upon entering were expanses of flat rock protruding from the ground. On the horizon a couple of prominent rock features stood out. It’s a pity the track doesn’t take us into these places. The sculptural masterpieces of the rock would be enough with their textural qualities, let alone the views from the top. For some reason we are kept grounded with naught but a green corridor to look up for long stretches.
Entering into the notorious swampy areas they were completely dry. I had expected to be treading straight through into ankle high. It was obvious trail crews had been in very recently to clear back the brush from the edges of the track. The smell of fresh grass clippings hung in the air. Very much appreciative of the efforts of these unpaid volunteers who dedicate their time and efforts to maintain what is there.
The swampy country would continue until hitting a forestry road and an uneventful slog onto Woolbales Shelter. I found some cell signal here and was able to check my email. Not seeing any tracking information from my online mattress order I was able to phone Paddy Palin direct and have them fast track my dispatch so that it should arrive in Pemberton by the time I get there.
I had to order a new mattress in Walpole as my trusty Thermasrest NeoAir has burst a couple of baffles and now bulges out right in the middle. Each night it gets worse as more baffles slowly break free forcing the bulge to get bigger and decreasing the space I have to sleep on.
From Woolbales it was an uneventful walk on flat ground through a series of grassland/Heathland areas. On reaching Mt Chance I was done for the day. A massive double hitter day at close to 38km.
With phone signal I was able to phone home while sipping on a warming cup of tea watching the sun descend below the trees for the day.