Date: Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Start: Cubby’s Camp
Finish: Cobboboonee Camp
Daily Kilometres: 24.4
Total GSWW Kilometres: 44.5
Weather: Partly cloudy, with occasional squally showers
Lunch: Trail mix
Dinner: Dehydrated beef and pasta stew
Aches: Very tired and sore all over
Highlight: Not finding ny leeches in my boots at the end of the day.
Lowlight: Not feeling 100% and struggling a bit.
Pictures: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
Rain beat down on the corrugated iron roof of the shelter several times during the night and I congratulated myself in the morning for deciding to erect my tent inside. I didn’t get to sleep until after 11pm, so decided to sleep in, given I “only” had 24km scheduled for the day. The ground was hard and my air mattress thin, so sleep comprised rolling over inside the sleeping bag every half hour or so as one side became numb. The pattern was very familiar from last year’s PCT hike and I still managed to “sleep” until 8am.
After my slow start, I wasn’t hiking until about 9:40am on a cool and partly cloudy morning. Rain was forecast so I had my pack raincover on, as well as my rainjacket. It turned out to be the day of the green tunnel, much of it on a green grass carpet as the trail wended its way northwest through beautiful eucalypt forest with a dark green bracken understory. It was very pleasant walking and I enjoyed the birdsong accompaniment. It seems to me, and I’m no ornithologist, that there is much more audible birdlife in Australian forests than other countries I have hiked in.
I saw a few kangaroos and startled emus on several occasions. I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough to photograph the very big birds as they raced away. Despite the pleasant surroundings, I had some sore spots where my pack settled and didn’t feel 100%. I was lucky there were few rises to negotiate and I just ambled along, glad I only had 24km for the day.
A number of squalls came through, with the wind roaring in the tree tops and rain falling briefly. Once there was a short hailstorm, but down on the trail I was somewhat protected.
At one break, I noticed a large leech crawling on my sock and then, on closer examination, noticed a number of others on my boots or heading that way. For the rest of the day, I constantly checked my boots and socks for leeches and was very relieved there was no blood saturated sock when I took my boots off at the end of the day.
I also came across one snake lying across the track in the last couple of hours, but it seemed comatose and I walked gently around it. The last hours involved some short climbs over sandy ridges and the understory became dense and heath-like, but it was still a forest.
I wasn’t sorry when I reached Cobboboonee Camp right on 5:15 pm, as I had estimated earlier and was pleased to find I had the place to myself again. I haven’t seen a single person all day. I can tell from the Hut register that there is a couple hiking in front of me who I will probably catch tomorrow night.
I set up my tent inside the shelter again for what is forecast to be a very cold night. I’m looking forward to hitting the sack shortly and then rising early for a 32km day. Hope the aches and pains are a little better.
Poor internet tonight so pictures may not load.
Date: Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Start: Portland Police Station, Portland
Finish: Cubby’s Camp
Daily Kilometres: 20.1
Total GSWW Kilometres: 20.1
Weather: Windy and partly sunny with light rain in the evening
Breakfast: Toast and peanut butter
Lunch: Meat pastie and vanilla slice
Dinner: Minestrone soup, dehydrated spaghetti bolognaise
Aches: Tired and sore all over
Highlight: Finding an empty campsite
Lowlight: The first kilometre when my pack seemed to weigh a ton.
Pictures: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
On the five-hour drive down to Portland from my sister’s holiday house in Malmsbury, where I stayed last night, it rained almost incessantly and occasionally torrentially. Oh well, I knew that I wouldn’t get away with a dry nine-day hike in coastal Victoria. Then, miraculously, as I drove into Portland the rain stopped and the sun emerged. I parked outside the Police Station, which I figured would be a safe place to leave my car parked for nine days and went in to the front desk just to make sure it was OK. I told the officer what I was planning and he grinned and said he hoped I had my gaiters. I said no, and asked whether the trail was wet. “No”, he said,……….”Snakes!” Apparently there was a 60km trail race along the trail on the weekend and a lot of snakes were seen.
It was just after 2pm, when I finally started walking, a bit later than I hoped given that I had 20km scheduled for the day. The sun was shining and a strong westerly wind was blowing raising whitecaps out to sea, but the clear green seas in the harbour were calm with a gentle surf breaking on the very white sandy beach. The police station was to the south of the CBD so I walked north along the harbour passing along the way the official start of the Great South West Walk at the Visitors Centre. My pack felt very heavy and uncomfortable, and as usual at the start of a camping hike, I wondered why I was there. I was carrying four days of food, so the pack wasn’t light, but there was no ice axe, crampons or bear barrel as I carried on the Pacific Crest Trail last year.
Anyway, after a few kilometres along the urban coast of Portland, I started to get my rhythm, though it was still hard work and felt very slow. I left the working and historic harbour behind as I followed the low cliffs northwards. The scenery was pretty, without being spectacular, but there were some boring stretches, particularly a long roadwalk behind the rocky shore.
I was pleased when the well-marked trail turned northwest away from the coast and the remainder of the afternoon was a generally pleasant mix of rural and wooded gently rolling countryside. There was some more roadwalking and some short overgrown and wet stretches, but there were also beautiful single-track walking through eucalypt forests, especially towards the end of the day. I reached Cubby’s Camp five minutes after it started raining, and was pleased to find the shelter empty and had the new hiker’s campsite all to myself.
It was 7pm and the light rain persisted for 30 minutes, during which time I decided pitch my tent in the front of the shelter. The ground was hard, but it meant I could be sure of packing a dry tent tomorrow. I tried to remember my super-efficient PCT routine as I set up camp, but still wasted time here and there. There is a water tank and toilet at the campsite, so it really is a bit luxurious. I didn’t get to bed until after 10pm once I had done my journal and done some emails, but I only have 24km scheduled for tomorrow, so will sleep in if I can.
The Great South West Walk in south-western Victoria was on my agenda for later this year, but I decided last week that the time to do it is now. I have a few quiet weeks and a knee injury that only bothers me when running. It seems like a good idea to find something interesting to do to ward off “runners depression”, maintain some fitness, and burn a few calories at the same time.
The 250km hike is a giant loop from the western Victorian town of Portland initially passing through rural landscapes, then following the lower reaches of the Glenelg River before returning along the wild south coast. I’m planning on nine days of hiking done in two stages, with a mid-hike break in the tiny river town of Nelson where I will resupply.