BT Day 19: Chappel’s Bridge to Tom Road 476.9 (21.8km)

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The dive of a shelter I was staying did the job. I was dry and sheltered from the wind. Despite this it was a cold night. With no floor to the shelter I was sleeping on bare ground. I’ve slept in a lot worse situations over the years thru hiking. It was just a cold old night.

I didn’t have far to go today, roughly 22km on flat ground and was in cruise mode again, getting my latest start yet at 8:30am.

It was easy walking following old timber rail lines next to the river. Fog filled the valley shrouding the tree crowns, revealing a forest of tall stems.

There must have heavy rains higher up the catchment overnight as the river had turned to milky coffee colour, filled with sediment. Luckily I had topped up my water before going to bed.

The river walk lead past a nice set of gentle falls with some excellent swimming holes for a hot day. Today was. It was not a day for swimming.

A few hours into the day I pulled my phone out to check my map to see where the next track junction, feature of interest, bridge etc… was, to pick a landmark to aim for and pull up for a break. My map showed an icon 700m ahead for the midway point on the track. This had me perplexed. While the mapping app I’m using, Guthook, has this point shown, the kilometre marker it has is 460km from Albany. Who knows what to believe.

I made the short trek 700m ahead and sure enough there was a sign post marking 501km to Kalamunda and 501km to Albany in the other direction. I’ll take it.

I had heard that the Guthook distances are off and had noticed a few small variances but 40km worth of error is lot. I honestly though the 500km mark was another 40km north and I had a day and half to reach it. Whatever, I’ll take it.

It now has me questioning my daily distances I’ve recorded from the app. I may have to go back over hard copy maps when I get home and update all the distances but I’ll keep using the Guthook kilometres for now.

An easy day. Soon enough I was at Toms Road camp. I was making a cup of tea as a local Dept of Environment crew turned up in a Ute, a fella around my age and a young 20 something women. They we’re out to maintain the shelter facilities, check the dunny and top up with toilet paper. They had also brought with them a fresh bunch of foot length dry wood they had just cut off the track further up. Perfect for a decent fire tonight.

We got talking as you do when meeting people over cups of tea. Tell you what it’s such a small world. Both were firefighters, the fella, a veteran of 15 years, I forget his name and the women, Ebony, her 2nd year into the job. Turns out the fella worked on the Northcliffe fire back in 2015 and vividly recalls the event where a local truck driven by Gippsland firefighters was hit by a falling Karri tree, smashing the rear of the truck but luckily all passengers in the cab were unharmed. I work very closely with one of the cab crew back at home. The fella also come across to Victoria to assist in our horror 2019/20 Black Summer.

But the world is even smaller. I remember Ebony’s name because she asks where I work and says you might know my Uncle….. now she is just about to drop a name and of the 5 million or so other Victoria’s. I’m thinking there is no way I’m going to know who she is talking about…. but I do! Can you believe that. I interviewed and employed her uncle out in the Far East sleepy town of Orbost and have worked with him for years – Mr Carr you know who you are.

Cups of tea over, the crew have to get on with the job and depart for the day, leaving me to chop some firewood and get a cranking fire going.

I waste away the afternoon drinking tea and listening to the bird calls echo across the river, watching the blue wrens with electric blue coloured heads jump around the camp.

It gets to around 5pm and I’m thinking I have the shelter to myself for the night as most hikers like to get in and get settled by 3:30 to 4:30pm. There was an intermediate camp between Chaples Bridge and Tom Road and I’m thinking Jo has camped there for the night when in she walks, huge smile on her face. She’s had a great day and beams at the fire I’ve got going. Such a difference good burning wood makes to the Jarrah parks provide at the shelters.

We stay up late (8pm omg!) chatting through the evening about everything, watching the coals burn down, savouring the warmth of the best fire on trail yet.

One comment

  1. Always great to read about your adventures Mick. I know just how much you were busting to get out again.

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