Day 18: Beedelup to Chappel’s Bridge 455.1km (40.3km)

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Not too much going on today. It was always going to be a big day pushing 40km with less and less light each day. The only way this is possible without hiking into the evening dark is to get an early start and hike the morning dark. I choose to do the early starts for a number of reasons, one of which is I don’t like arriving at shelters in the evening dark under head torch and disturbing the peace should anyone be there. By 4:30pm most hikers are settled for the evening, cooking dinner around 5:30pm and more often than not are in bed by 6:30pm, Hiker Midnight, the exception being if there is a roaring fire or not, which alway attract attention and keep people in the dark.

Coming into to shelters late in the evening you can’t help but create a ruckus. First shining your headlamp around to see if there are people around and if so which spaces are free to bed down for the night. Next, the half hour of rustling that occurs as you unpack gear and get sorted for the night. Then comes the banging of pots and the jet like scream of the gas cooker as you prepare your dinner. And finally the rustle of air mattress and sleeping bag as you adjust into bed, wrestling for the perfect sleep position, and hunker away the cold for the night.

So it was the reasons above that saw me move past what should have been the highlight of day, Beeleup Falls, under the light of my head torch. There was enough ambient light to get a good look at the impressive falls, but far too little to capture any images on camera phone or GoPro. I guess this will just have to be a memory that stores away in the grey matter only.

The rest of the day was largely uneventful. Sure it was 40km but don’t get the idea that I’m just head down crushing miles. I’m always looking around at the scenery and taking in all the different plant types, changes in species with elevation or aspect, all the birds and of course the fungi. I love fungi and there are endless variety’s lining the path ahead.

It’s just that today was completely in the trees and incredible flat for the most part. This means few views beyond the tree canopy and immediate surrounds.

There were two big climbs in the middle of the day, straight up and straight down. But I did mention WA is pretty flat right. What constitutes a big climb here is maybe 15 minutes of pain to climb up 200m, hardly anything in comparison to similar climbs we find at home in Vic.

With the climbs out of the way the rest of the afternoon was smooth sailing following a multitude of long dead timber rail lines, the odd sleeper showing through providing minders of a bygone era. There was quite a bit of ascent through the final hours of the day but hardly noticeable at all with the low grade built for trains. It just looked like one big, straight, flat line through the trees and the odd cutting through hillsides.

I was aiming for Boarding House campsite for the night but on arrival was greeted with an information board from Parks & Wildlife stating that is was closed and undergoing maintenance. Damn. The feet were tired and I was looking forward to finishing the day out. Nothing else for it than to push on another 1.4km to Chappel Bridge where there a camp site.

It would be a late finish and I wasn’t looking forward at the prospect of having to set up my tent in the dark. I pulled into the campsite and had a brief catch up with Jo. She had her tent up. Luckily for me there was a ‘shelter’ of sorts that I could sleep under and not have to worry about the tent. It was definitely a shelter but not like the Bibb Track type we’ve been accustomed to. It had 3 sides, had a fire pit and would keep me dry for the evening.

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