The hike continues……Day 12
We got a good early start the next morning. Just after our first 7km stint the rain started in earnest and did not let up. Rodger sent the back-up team ahead with a request to get a fire going and some tarps up. What a relief to walk into lunch camp. Our clothes were soon steaming. I took off my boots and wrung the water out of my socks. My boots are waterproof but that doesn’t help when it is raining so hard the water runs down your legs and in from the top. My poncho was only shower proof and this was no shower. We were both wet through, causing much mirth when we were trying to get our tights up and down at a toilet stop.
At least our walking time is good; we are not stopping for photos or to look at interesting stuff today.
Our back up crew met a local farmer who couldn’t believe we were out walking on such a cold wet day. The rain really was pelting down. He said he would arrange somewhere for us to camp. I thought we must have been camping in the farmer’s shed but it turned out that the nearby farmhand’s quarters was unoccupied and so we were welcome to use it. Another bed and a woodheater where we could dry our clothes and boots.
It wasn’t far to Dragon Rocks the next morning but I was a little disappointed. No dragons and not even a rock that looked like a dragon. Found out later that it had in fact been named after lizards (like bearded dragon).
Today we passed an intersection and the road surface changed from buckshot gravel to a sandy gravel. So much nicer on our feet. We had an early tea as rain and storms have been forecast overnight. The mosquitoes are everywhere. At 6.30 the rain started and everyone headed for shelter. It didn’t really let up all night.
We packed up wet tents in the morning and headed north. Crossed the Hyden Road about midday, after crossing the Rabbit Proof Fence earlier in the day. Rain showers through the day; we mostly make good time when it is raining as we don’t stop to look at flowers and take photos.
The first indication we had that the track was becoming worse was when the support crew had found a camping spot but decided not to come back for smoko as the track was too rough. We walked up to the camp. There was a really nasty stretch of clay that had been badly cut up so yes, driving back would have caused damage to the track.
Again we just had time to eat before the rain settled in for the night. Camped near Sheoak Rock on the Holland Track.
The next morning we set off on a stretch of wet sand. This is really good to walk on. Very kind to aching feet. It wasn’t long however and the rain started again. Freezing showers. The track soon alternated between good stretches of wet sand and nasty deep clay washaways. As our crew stopped for lunch they met a group of travellers coming in from the other end who said that the clay was worse further along the track.
We set off again, often going bush to avoid the deeper puddles. At about 2pm we made a further decision that the track was just too dangerous. It was dangerous to walkers, vehicles and any driving would just damage the already cut-up track even more, so we found a small clear patch of high ground and made camp, planning to stay until things dried out a little. We were walking very slowly in the mud, down to 3kms an hour. We would need an extra month if that kept up. ………
Next morning we packed up our wet tents and all drove to the Hyden-Norseman Road where we will start walking again. As we were preparing to walk we met a lovely young man who turned out to be an environmental scientist checking on some rehab sites for the nearby nickel mine.
He told us that we were walking through the largest area of temperate woodland in the world. Eight million acres of untouched forest. He told us to watch out for Western quolls, numbats and bandicoots, but also told us we would be very lucky if we saw any.
Two of our crew headed into Hyden while Judy and I started walking in the other direction. Although this is supposedly an all-weather road, watching the traffic is nothing short of frightening especially the many vehicles towing (it is school holidays). We watched one vehicle go past way too fast and as it hit a wet patch the trailer headed sideways up the road.
Judy and I commented that it wouldn’t be long before we would see someone roll over. We were surprised that the others hadn’t returned when we made camp. They came in just on dusk. Turns out that on the way into Hyden they had come across a 4wd rolled over. The three occupants were uninjured but they had stayed to help them.