It was a clear day and time to get some miles under the belt. My plan for big days is to try to ninja out of the shelters, quietly grabbing my gear and moving away a couple of hundred metres to have breaky and pack up without disturbing anyone else. But it was no use this morning. Crazy John was up at 4:30am, had lit his candles, shone his torch about while noisily moving a bunch of gear around and stoking the fire. I could hear Mike tossing and turning on the bunk above. I lay in bed for a bit savouring the warm of my bed and trying to snooze waiting for my alarm. It was no use. Too much noise and disturbance happening already why not just get up and get on with the day.
I grabbed my prepared pack, sleeping bag and disappeared into the dark under my red headtorch beam without saying a word. I’ve got no idea what John must have been thinking, I couldn’t care less. Mike knew this was my methodology. I’ll catch up with him on track in the coming days. Off into the dark I strode.
The walking was easy today. Nice wide trails, cleared of vegetation and a bunch of what could have been old fire trails now converted into the Bibbulmun.
It was fast walking. I crossed paths with a south bound hiker sitting down for a break around 9:30am, about 18km in the for day and only an hour out from the Noggerup shelter. He was perplexed at how far I’d already come for the day and impressed when I told him where I was aiming for for the day, Yabberup another 24km north. “A double hutter hey – man I wish I had it in me to do that”.
I stopped by Noggerup for a morning tea and topped my water up.
It was a sunny so I needed to apply sunscreen for the first time in about a week but a chilled breeze blew through.
By lunch time I was at Mumballup having walked the final kilometres into the tiny settlement on a disused rail line. Man that was tough. Walking on rail sleepers is never easy for me as they are just out of wack with my stride and I’m always catching them on the toes or heel, never flat footed. In addition much of the rail was covered in the gum nuts from the red flowering guns, what the locals call honkey nuts. These are never pleasant to walk on, catching under shoes and having a tendency to roll the feet every which way.
Having lunch at the Mumby Pub is always a highlight of Bibbulmun Track walkers but it wasn’t to be for me today as the pub is closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s unfortunately. Lunch for me would be sitting across the road from the pub munching on tortillas filled with peanut butter and avocado. You have to do what you have to do and I needed to get rid of an avocado I was carrying. Why I was carrying it I have no idea but it was dead weight.
The afternoon session was uneventful. All I knew was that I had a total of 42km to finish the day out, a marathon, and my feet hurt.
Finally arriving at Yabberup around 4:30pm I was surprised to see a private vehicle there. I surprised a contractor who was on site making renovations to the shelter as I stepped out of the bush onto his worksite. Seeing hazard tape everywhere my initial reaction was ‘oh no the shelter is out of use’. Turns out he was laying the footings for an extension to the shelters veranda and the internals of the shelter including bunks and tables were still in use. I just had to be careful stepping over string lines until he was done for the day.
He had some saw work to do and seeing me get a fire going he offers to cut up some long dry limbs for firewood. I sit by the fire, keeping out of his way and letting him get on with his job. I never did catch his name.
Anyway around 5pm he tells me he’s packing up for the day and will be out of there shortly. But something is wrong. I hear a lot of swearing and a few phone calls get made. He’s left his car door open with auto lights and drained his battery. He’s stranded for now.
Access into the shelters by vehicle is not easy. That is part of their success in the Bibb and why they don’t get vandalised. Yabberup in particular is a hard one to get to. Lucky for him, he’s able to make contact with a digger driver from Collie 20km north who knows they way in. They literally just exchanged numbers a couple of days ago after working on the site together.
He waits patiently in the shelter with me, chatting away, waiting for the rescue party to arrive, alert to any noise that sounds like a car engine. By now it’s fully dark. If he doesn’t get rescued soon he’s anticipating putting on every layer he has and sleeping in the back of this truck. “Sorry mate, I’ve only got dinner for one and if we do split it I guarantee you ain’t going to like it” I say.
Not to fear, a car engine is soon heard and his mate is on the scene. Jumper leads on, the vehicle is powered up. But what do you do while you wait that 10 or 15 minutes for enough charge? You have a beer of course. His mate has brought in some beers, sees me there as well and offers a couple to me. Hell yeah! Trail magic when least expected.