BT Day 13: Gardner to Schafer 352.1km (28.8km)

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What an awesome day. Knowing it was a shortish and easy walk into Northcliffe I snoozed in this morning only waking when the others stirred, Jo first and then Bill. I was pretty relaxed about today.

I was packed up and on the move by 7:30am. The walk into town was a ripper with changing terrain all the way. Short sections of forest tracks, single track and even some railway line thrown in.

I had thrown down my usual hiker breakfast, as assortment of breaky bars, a pastry and the ultimate dirtbag morning coffee, Starbucks instant ground with cold water shaken up in a Gatorade bottle, but was spurred on with thoughts of a cooked brunch and hot coffee and moving quick into town.

Northcliffe didn’t disappoint. A local cafe was open and took a breakfast order for me of bacon and eggs on toast plus coffee. So good. I was able to hit up the local store and take on a few additional supplies to see me through to Pemberton. I had caught wind of a mountain bike event on this weekend at Pemberton and that accomodation may be tight so also popped into the information centre to see if they could help.

A few calls were made but all accomodation was booked up Friday and Saturday. Friday wasn’t so bad as I can single hut it tomorrow but I would need to get to Pemberton and stay at least Saturday night and hopefully Sunday. Sunday is meant to bucket down so it’s a good excuse for a rest day. I had an invite from Brad who I met in Walpole up my sleeve but there was a strong chance he wouldn’t be around on the weekend and I like to be self sufficient, not expecting anyone to change their plans on my account. I had one more motel to call. They answered but said they were not at reception and would have to phone me back. I wasn’t hopefully and was in mid text to Brad just about to beg for some floor space when the hotel called back. They had one room left for Sat and Sun. “I’ll take it thanks”.

While in town and in cell range I got a text from Auspost saying my new mat had been delivered to the Pemberton office. That is great. Even better they open on weekends for limited hours. Last night was the first night I didn’t even bother with my current therarest, relying solely on the old foam mat I carried out of the Mt Chance shelter. It’s a bit rough for a side sleeper but better than no insulation at wall. The previous night my thermarest burst several more baffles rendering it useless and part way through the night I let it the air out for the last time. Cant wait for the new one and tone able to offload the old one plus the foamy to bed heaven.

From Northcliffe the easy walking continued on mix of single track and fire roads. At one point the track took us on a back country roads tour, traversing through farmland. The odd electric wire was strung across the track, more for show and to keep cattle in, but you are just never sure if they are connected or not. At each wire I’d stop and listen for a current and then quickly stamp it down with one foot and bound over, never sure if you are going to get that 14k volt wake up call or not.

Through the farmland all the locals stopped to say G’day. One guy in his car pulled up and had a chat for 5 minutes or so; another sitting on a fence and clearly on the phone stopped to say hello and quiz me on progress; the third a big burly bloke in tracks daks and blunnies open the gate for his Ute calls out “hey can you catch?” tossing me a fresh apple. You have to love friendly locals, they are the best.

Arriving at Schafer the day was topped off with a shelter right besides a small lake. This was not indicated on my map at all and welcome sight at the end of the day offering a chance to wade the legs and cool down tired muscles – too cold for a swim.

Jo is at Schafer tonight as well and it’s good to have some common company again instead of meeting new people every night and have the same conversations over and over. That was until later when couple, Noel and Tina, out for a 3 dayer from Pemberton to Northcliffe would arrive as well. So many of the same conversations were had… where you are from, what do you do for a living, where have you travelled. That’s Ok I love passing on hiking knowledge and talking gear.

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