Today turned out to be one of the rare wet (for most of the day) days, so the diary is quite different and rather photo-deficient: but it was a wonderful opportunity to wander in the rain and put our gear to the test, although some bits failed.
The wonderfully generous Jared sheltered us in his chalet overnight, with red wine and cheese. Got away early, nearly before Jared got up. Started in light drizzle, which over time generally got heavier and rained most of the day.
Town days can be interesting, not always brilliant: maybe that's because we have too much expectation? We've found that we generally like to get into town early, which takes the pressure off shopping and gets us to the shops before they close... so we've set the alarm to get going early today as it's a lengthy day anyway, although fairly level. We're looking forward to the Arboretum, and hope to lunch at Big Brook Dam. When planning the walk I found it impossible to discern the Track on Google Earth with the Guidebook: today I guess we'll see it foot to ground [see our track here], I hope it's not too confusing (the Track has a habit of getting confusing close to town)!
Today we take our leave from the Donnelly River, which we've spent the last three days walking beside. Jared tells us that we have the option of a coffee at the Karri Valley Resort today, though it is a diversion, and the Guidebook talks up the Beedelup Falls. Before that though we'll aim to have lunch at Carey Brook Falls, which sound nice (though understated in the book); and nothing has jumped out at us for morning tea today
Today's elevation profile and map track paints in pretty graphic detail what the book calls a 'Challenging day': one winding in around the Donnelly River and up, over and down various valleys - though the book does promise 'marvellous' views and the 'best old-growth Karri'!. Got away in pretty good time, conscious that we didn't want to muck about on one of the more difficult days.
Today! Where do I start? Took a couple of paracetamol before bed last night, that headache shadow was there. Managed to get a pretty good sleep, we had the tent inner under the hut shelter again. A lazy start to the day, I felt a bit nervous about how I would go, particularly my knees.
Found a stick yesterday and today have found it very helpful on very steep descents particularly, but also the ascents. A real gift from God. P wants to now buy me fan-dangled walking sticks, but I think I like my one from God.
Today's section follows the Donnelly River all day, with many crossings. We're planning to have morning tea at the cafe marked on the maps at One Tree Bridge, which is a little late in the day for morning tea, but hopefully it will make up for the wait...
John yesterday said that DEC in this area (manjimup) had decided to make the track accessible by 4-wheel bike (emergencies) and something else that they use to carry things like chainsaws and other equipment. This has turned the bush track into a bush highway -- very wide. Some bridges were not 4-wheel friendly either. Generally, despite the obvious benefits, I didn't like the look, or that bike tracks can be seen all along the track now.
It was crazy to think that we were now halfway through our trek: both wonderful and scary. It was certainly amazing to realise that we were actually achieving it -- and terrifying that the result of our continued success would be the end of the walk. We were all ready for a fast get-away this morning as we'd packed the night before with everything folded, set up for breakfast and under control.
4:30am: P got up to go to the toilet and locked the key in so then turned around and broke back in through the kitchen window: bare bot, bare bot...
It was when I was leaving the kitchen / toilet: the light was off (I didn't turn it on when entering), and I had this funny feeling I was forgetting something. I put the key on the microwave when going in, at the time thinking I MUST remember to pick it up again on the way out... it wasn't until I got back into bed and Sandi said, "You remembered the key didn't you?" that I did remember it. I didn't want it to delay us in the morning, so I immediately got up to look for a way in. Thankfully someone else had not shut the kitchen window properly and I was able to climb in. The only issue was that I hadn't put my pants on for all of this... which only seemed to make it more funny to Sandi which she immortalised in a cartoon (The "I'm in" reference is to the movie "The Matrix".)
Halfway day: halfway in time and halfway in distance -- not sure if the glass is half full or half empty at the moment, but that's what we're hoping for is that we will remain in the moment. It's a fairly easy walk today, and we have Donnelly River Village at the end of it, where we're aiming for a bought afternoon tea We were in for a few surprises today though: not all of them appreciated either.
The glory of yesterday's weather seemed to overflow into today: no wonder many people say that Blackwood is their favourite campsite! We have another diversion today, and the Guidebook has promised the first Karri as the vegetation slowly changes to more damp communities as we head South.
For some reason it felt a little odd putting everything back into the pack again: it was almost like starting again. Had a real 'gulp' at all our stuff on the picnic table. But we have what the lady at the Alpaca shop said is the best view on the Track coming up this morning, and a pretty stiff climb at the end of the day.
It's interesting what captures your imagination and what you look forward to, especially after the calming effect of 3 weeks on the Bibbulmun Track. After reading the Guidebook last night I'm really looking forward to the Balingup Brook footbridge, which is reputed to be an "outstanding blend of function and aesthetics": sounds delightful - can hardly wait!