Sun’s out this morning, birds are chirping. No wind, no dunes, no SAND!
I woke this morning with a spring in my step. Perhaps because it’s a town day, perhaps it’s because my body felt great.
Over breakfast i noticed a persistent itch on my belt line. It didn’t take long to find the culprit. A small tick had buried it head. A good dollop of hand sanitizer had it squirming and a quick flick with tweezers had the little bugger out and promptly squashed.
I have more weight than expected today. A previous hiker/s had decided to leave their trash in the food box. Given that I’m headed to town I did the right thing and packed it out on their behalf to be disposed of properly. I don’t get it. The messaging is easy, observe and preserve; pack it in pack it; leave not trace. It is not hard to do. Each shelter has two plastic tubs, a smaller one that houses the shelter register and book for daily writings; and a second larger one for hikers to stow food in overnight to keep rodents away. It is not a bin.
The tracks through the forest were amazing. Hard pack underneath with a cushion of soft leaves. More splendid tall Tingle trees spread right through the forest providing deep shade blanketing the rising sun for slightly darker start to the day.
I was loving the simple task of walking in a wild place, putting one step in front of the other and moving forward with purpose. I was making ground and very comfortable. As it does my pack had become a part of me, not a sack of items to be battled with, just an extension of myself.
A little out of camp I entered the car park for a tree top walk and spied a coffee van. Unfortunately I was way too early for it be open so alas, no fresh grind this morning. I had experienced multiple treetop walks in the past and did not have any intentions of hanging about for the walk and coffee to open.
The track made for incredibly fast walking compared to previous days. So fast in fact I’d made it 16km or half way for the day by 10:45 to Franklin Shelter, a beautiful location for a shelter on the banks of the Franklin River. The Franklin shelter has the same form as previous shelters although raised higher off the ground being so close to the river.
The Franklin’s dark tannin strained waters meandered down past the shelter carrying masses of white foam produced by the natural saponins from the Tingle trees, natural wetting agents. The recent heavy rains had flushed the hill sides and filling the river.
Pushing further towards Walpole the track brought me to the famous Giant Tingle that has stood the test of time, still standing tall and proud. There are many old photos of men mounted on horses, cars and entire families standing within the burnt out base of this bohemoth tree. Truely impressive. Some day tourists were admiring the tree and we traded phones for photos.
Onwards to Walpole it was all down hill from here, the track leading past several other just as impressive Tingles albeit now fallen on the ground. A special up close peak for Bibb Track hikers that day to day tourists don’t get to see unless they fell adventurous and leave the bitumen path for a few kilometres.
I was in Walpole mid afternoon. I had just sat down outside the visitors centre when my phone rang. Gary, a long time friend of my boss back in Victoria and local Walpole all round good knacker knew I should be due in town anytime and reached out to offer everything a hikers needs – a place to stay (right on the Bibb in fact), a chance to do some much needed laundry and a home cooked meal. ‘The Shack’ was a welcome home from home and perfect opportunity to chill out for an evening and a rest day tomorrow. Brad, one of Gary’s high school mates was also in town renovating a house and would be staying the night as well.
Great food, a couple of beers and awesome conversation with some like minded soles made for a great night. Thank you so much Gary! You are a legend mate, made me feel very welcome and right at home. Brad as well, your a champion and thanks for the offer of a roof when I get into Pemberton.