BT Day 29: Dookanelly to Swamp Oak 736.9km (36.1km)

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A much better day today.

Back into single track with a few tiny sections of fire trail, my kind of walking.

I arrived at the Murray shelter around 10am for morning tea. In summer this would be a perfect shelter to stay at given it is located right on the Murray River and has steps down to the water side for a swim.

In finding the first 20km in the morning come pretty easily and I’m able to get it done in around 4 hours but the afternoon session always seems to be much harder and take longer. By 25km my feet start to complaint from my Achilles, sore arches and tired leg muscles. Still 20km is too short a day. I like to keep walking for most of the day. Arriving at a shelter before midday means trying to kill time and sitting around – I’d rather be out walking. A day around the 30km mark is perfect. Distance is gained, it feels like you are moving forward, makes for a full day while leaving enough day light get sorted out for the evening.

The afternoon saw a mixed bag of track type; small sections of fire trail, some sections of old rail line and single track. Two ‘big’ hills to climb both short lived affairs.

This weekend is a long weekend in WA which is really evident by the number of people out and about on the track. While sitting down for an afternoon break around 15 people passed me, headed in the opposite direction luckily. It is going to mean a busy night for those behind me staying at the Murray shelter and is a likely indication of what I could expect heading to Swamp Oak.

For the last 3km of my day I was cruising on easy track.

All accomodation in Dwellingup had been booked out for the long weekend so my plan was to camp at Swamp Oak tonight, walk into town to tomorrow to resupply and keep on moving to the next shelter out of town Chadora.

Arriving at Swamp Oak around 15:30 I spied a 4WD at the shelter set up with a large family tent, could see smoke rising from multiple fires and heard a bunch of people laughing and talking around one fire. My initial reaction was thinking some arsehole four wheel drivers had driven around gates and management vehicle only tracks, to use the Swamp Oak shelter for the long weekend and I was pissed off.

As it turns out the 4WD belonged to local trail volunteers who have key access to the gates and were out for the weekend to do some maintenance work to the shelter and nearby tracks. Being walkers themselves they knew exactly what I was thinking on arrival at the camp and before I could get word in allayed my concerns by stating who they were, what they were doing and that they had an esky full of beer – trail angles. The mention of beer was enough to convince me and immediately put a smile on my face.

In the end around 15 people were camped in and around the shelter, most out for the long weekend although I did catch up to David and Richard Curtis, two brothers in their 50’s how are end to ending from Albany as well. I had been seeing their names in the trail registers for weeks.

The instanta crowd was a shock to the system but it turned out to be a great night. Drinking a few beers and chatting around the campfire with some new faces was awesome. Later, the volunteers pulled out a couple of bottles of red wine which was shared around. Happy days.


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