I had a curry dinner at the pub and a good sleep in a bed with sheets and no snorers or mattress rustlers.
Eggs Benedict and a large cappuccino at the local Cafe before heading out behind Peter to Gardner Campsite. It was only 16km away and provided my first taste of the sand to come. It was a change underfoot, but not necessarily a good one.
I played tracker all day guessing the footprints I saw. Kangaroos, horses, pigs, snakes and humans were all users of this section of the Bibbulmun Track. One very large kangaroo hopped along the track in front of me for about 50 metres before jumping into the river and disappearing into the bush on the other side. I went across the bridge.
There were a few little creeks today with bridges. The water is flowing but is brown from the tannins in the plant life. It just doesn’t look attractive to me at all but the locals insist it is good fresh water. No wonder people come to New Zealand and are so impressed by our beautiful clear rivers.
Only Peter and I here at Gardner hut tonight as the rest of our crew were having a rest day in Northcliffe. The drizzle had stopped by noon when I arrived.
Just as I finished that last paragraph man hobbled into the camp. It was 79 year old Wayne from New Zealand. I had seen his name in the book a few days ahead of me and he had heard about me from Darcy and others. He had a bad knee so had decided to turn back to Northcliffe rather go any further into the 8 day stretch to Wardpole.
Wayne is on his 3rd Bibbulmun track and agreed with me that it is one that can be walked by anyone at any age who is up to a damn long walk. He also told me he had walked Te Araroa over three seasons so, like me, he has another long trail for comparison.
The next day was another short one. The hut book had lots of snake sightings so I was kind of hopeful that today would be my day to meet a real live snake. The sun was out and I was on the sand most of the day.
My eyes were darting all over the place; up ahead as far as I could focus, (not far) then a sideways sweep followed by down at my feet. Repeat, repeat. It is quite hard work especially with sticks that look like snakes all over the ground. But no snakes for me that day. Peter came in after me and he had seen one.
The day was an easy one because we are now on the Pinjerup Plains which means it is quite flat. When there has been a lot of rain thd track becomes flooded as there is no where for the water to go. Stories abound of hikers walking for kilometers in waist deep water but I have timed it right.
The usual hut routine om arrival.
- Take off pack
- Take out food bag and place on table marking my spot.
- Pump up air mattress and lay out on sleeping platform marking my spot.
- Put sleeping quilt and liner and on mattress. Obviously my spot.
- Fill pot with water from tank and find a private spot to have a wash and change into hut clothes
- Hang walking clothes and shoes out to air
- Make lunch of soup and crackers salami and cheese
- Find a spot in the sun to read or use phone.
- Maybe have a nana nap.
- 4pm eat a handful of chippies as Peter lights the fire.
- 5.30pm prepare dinner. One pot pasta, rice or instant mashed potatoes with some flavour and protein.
- 7 pm Hikers midnight so off to bed.
The Maringup hut is on the banks of the Maringup lake and we are now only about 3km (as the crow flies) from the coast. The sky is changing, as is the vegetation. No really big trees any more, lots of cutty grass and sand underfoot.
Alas there was only 4 puddles that I sloshed through like a good Kiwi does. Peter scrambled through the bush or took his boots off and went bare feet rather than get wet feet. Funny because they are happy to stand in the shower and get wet feet!
About 3pm Scott and Jess arrived having double hutted from Northcliffe.