BT Day 32: White Horse Hills to Nerang 830.7km (32.7km)

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Woohoo – cracked the 800 km Mark.

What an awesome day. Things are changing for sure and I’m liking it. The terrain, the forest, the views and the track itself, all changing.

With no snorers to contend with last night I had one of the best shelter sleeps yet and felt completely rested.

A typical nights sleep goes something like: Hit the sack around 6:30pm. By then the sun is well and truly down. As soon as my head hits the pillow I’m almost instantly in a deep sleep with wild, vivid dreams. It feels like such a long sleep but I’m always surprised when on waking I check my watch and find that only a few hours have passed. Then I start to doze, in and out of sleep, staying warm for the most part. The odd noise is enough to open an eye. This could be the rustle of a hut mate heading to the toilet, the loud crash of a gum nut on the roof or the pitter patter of tiny feet searching for food. This goes on for most of the night. Then in the early hours of the morning the cold starts to be felt, at which time more layers are put on and the quilt is cinched down to retain as much warmth as possible. By 4am I’m essentially awake, I mean who can sleep for 12 hours a day, but is too cold to want to move. By 5am I start to stir, particularly on the big mileage days, making moves to get up around 5:15am, to be packed up and hitting the track by 6am. Walking by head torch for half hour of the day until there is enough natural light to see without aid.

This morning was slightly more leisurely, not leaving the shelter until 6:30am with sunlight alone, no need for the head torch.

It was chilly with a fresh breeze blowing in from the west. A gloves on morning to keep numbness at bay.

Immediately from leaving the White Horse Hills the Waguls led into single track with a gentle climb. It had a smile on my face weaving in and out of boulders and dodging grass trees that can be prone to poking eyes out. I was thoroughly enjoying the morning.

An hour or so in to the day I kept getting a strong waft of bad air, somewhere between a grog bog and horse shit smell. Yuck. It couldn’t work it out. Was it my rubbish bag – nope. Had I inadvertently soiled myself after a dehydrated curry last night and a lose fart – nope. Was it my 4 day old socks hanging in off my pack – nope. Was it the flowering plants I was walking past – nope. I was dumbfounded and couldn’t work it out but the mystery would be revealed later on.

Anyway, I was making great progress for the day and had found a new spring in my step.

I had one steep but short climb to make for the day with an opportunity to complete a side trail off to the top of a nearby peak, Boonering Hill. I never usually do many side trails on long distance hikes but on the Bibb I was craving some views, craving something different. Plus on the approach I could see the massive granite dome forming the mountain top. There was little vegetation growing up high and there was bound to be a 360 degree view.

It didn’t disappoint. A full panorama and views across to the country I’d walked through yesterday, the brown topped scorched canopy from the burn area standing out across the hills. The wind was wild and bitterly cold.

The bad smell mystery was resolved as well. While most of the view was worth the extra distance off trail and the steep, bouldery climb, out to the west overlooked a rubbish dump only a short distance away. The westerly winds blowing that disgusting smell my way all morning.

Backing down off Boonering Hill and back on track it was road bash out towards the Albany Highway. The heavy haulage trucks and traffic could be heard well before approaching the road itself. There is a servo, the Bannister North Roadhouse, approximately 3km directly down the highway. It can also be accessed from the Bibbulmun with a 2.8km return trip from the Gringer Creek shelter.

I’d had a massive craving for hotdogs for some reason and was definitely going to pay the roadhouse a visit but which way to get there? The choice was made easy for me. On hitting the highway the Bibb follows the bitumen edge for a couple of hundred metres before having to be crossed and diving back into the bush. This little section of highway completely put me off walking direct to the roadhouse. Fast moving B-Doubles screamed past with enough energy and following turbulence to almost knock me off my feet and blow my cap off my head. Onto the Gringer Creek shelter and onto the side trail it would be.

I’d reached Gringer Creek by 10:45, 16km in for the day and had plenty of time to get to the roadhouse and back. No hotdogs available which was a huge disappointment but I did manage to compensate with roast beef sandwiches, a coke and top up of chocolate supplies.

Walking back to Gringer Creek I had another 16.2km to walk for the day towards Nerang and took it pretty easy, enjoying the now drier, rockier bush on a mix of single track and fire roads. I had the whole afternoon to get there.

Arriving at Nerang in the early afternoon I bumped into Gillian, a 71 year old who is end to ending from Albany as well. I had seen her name in the trail registers from the start. Lots of people who have overtaken her leave her notes of encouragement in the register – which I saw she replies to even though those who left notes are far in front and will never read her replies.

I greeted her with “Gillian G, legend of the Bibbulmun. I want to do what you’re doing when I’m 70. Awesome stuff.” to which she laughed . We got along great from the get go. Her body has been holding up well but she’s been struggling with gear, her pack mostly. Having lost so much weight she can no longer pull her hip belt in any tighter and she has it padded out with all sorts of foam and clothing. I offered to cut a panel off my sit pad for extra padding which has been cut off a sleeping mat anyway. A single panel would have just about wrapped about the hit belt. She was very thankful for this but declined the offer.

She is slowly getting the Bibb done, moving from shelter to shelter with some support from her son bringing in food when required. So good to she older folk biting off a 1,000km buskwalk in a single effort and not just complete the Bibb in sections.

Early in the evening while eating dinner in strolls another north bounder, an ultralighter named Roadkill, who had triple hutted today walking around 46km from Mt Wells. His pack size alone was enough to confirm he was an ultralighter but if in any doubt this was cemented when he set up his shelter, a tiny tarp that would not offer much protection at all in the rain. I’m pushing day light to get 40km done and need to start out in the dark at 6am to do it. Roadkills tells me he typically rises around 4-4:30am and is on track by 5:30am. Crazy. His whole end is end is likely to take 27 days. Wow!!

Note: To conserve phone battery I started switching my phone off through the day which directly led to less photos being taken. Sorry about that. Should have taken my 20,000 amp hour battery, not the 10,000.

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