Day 20: Tom Road to Donnelly River Village 492.6km (15.5km)

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Brrr…. such a chilly night. My new sleeping mat while very comfy and quiet (most new mats make a crinkly chip packet type noise when moving around), it does not have the highest R value, the value by which the insulation qualities are measured. The now retired and binned thermarest had an R value of 3.7, my new mat is less than half this at 1.7. The down graded R value very noticeable when using a quilt instead of a sleeping bag which relies on the qualities of the mat to work in conjunction with the quilt. Oh well, it was cheapish and will have its place for summer trips. For now it is just another thing to deal with without complaint – for a few more weeks anyway.

Jo stirred first as I remained bunkered down in the warmth of my bed. My head poking out from underneath my down hoody to sing out “It’s too cold! I’m not moving.”m

Eventually I’d have to stir and reluctantly let the air out of my mattress, the cold surface of the hut floor providing the emphasis to get up and make the uncomfortable change from nice warm merino thermal layers into hiking attire. Type 2 fun right? There is nothing quite like pulling on the slightly damp shirt in the morning to be quickly covered in extra layers and the puffy jacket again. This morning though it was time for a fresh pair of socks – luxury!

After a quick breakfast and pack up it was time to hit the track again. Wishing Jo a great day I was off towards Donnelly River Village, only 15.5km away on flat ground. It was time for cruise mode again and some audio books. With a short distance and all day to get there I took it pretty easy.

Trekking into DRV just before noon, I soon found the shop. Guarded by a hungry flock of Emu’s and Kangaroos on the prowl for food. I ordered a burger to be washed down with a chocolate milk. Jo followed in shop door shortly after and ordered the same. Yum. Fresh burgers to be enjoyed indoors next to a roaring wood fire.

Later I would order home made lasagne for dinner while restocking with some food to see me through to Balingup 1.5 days away.

We’re set up in the free Bibb Track shelters for the night with the luxury of a massive canvas door that can be pulled down to close off the open side of the shelter. $5 got me a towel and access to a hot shower and kitchen area.

It was a busy evening. Three other north bound hikers were there, a couple of section hikers and a couple of riders on the Munda Bidi trail, the bike alternative that closely follows the Bibb but sits parallel to seperate walker and riders. In total there were nine of us. Included in the mix was Mike ‘Three Hats’ another hiker I’ve been following through the hut registers for weeks. I’ve caught up with him and will likely be seeing him more often over the coming days.

I had to get a selfie with Jo as I’m likely to jump ahead of her now. Her company has been great over the last few weeks sharing huts and lots of laughs.

We soon had a fire going and spent the evening sharing stories of our journeys and life.

Later there would be ten of us as a young 18 year old ultralighter walks into the dark of camp by head torch. He had set himself the challenge of walking from Pemberton to DRV in 24hours! Although he didn’t meet his allotted time, he had made the 107km stretch in a single push. Extraordinary, some would say crazy. He was shattered.

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