Day 6: Serenity comes at a price
Dwellingup to Bidgar Ngoulin Hut
11 – 4 33km (after a slight wrong turn)
While at breakfast at Dwellingup Blue Wren in town, I met a group of female mountain bike racers training for an upcoming cross country race. Georgina found me in the cafe after perving on my bike locked up outside. We talked bikes and riding – and I had to admit to her I wasn’t a “real cyclist”. This hobby is quite new to me. She was impressed that I’d jumped into doing the E2E. I was impressed with her crew, their bikes and got some good advice before they shot off to training.
The ride to Nanga was more difficult than expected, especially when I rode the first 3km in the wrong direction. Absolute amateur! 6km down and I’m only just back into town, sheepishly finding the track and hoping no one would notice. Once I set off again I was surprised at the difficulty in getting to Nanga. I thought it was going to be easy peasy from Dwellingup onwards. I’d better not assume anything.
Nanga is so beautiful. I pulled in to the rapids and couldn’t resist stopping for a late lunch. I decided to treat my legs to an ice bath in the water. Luxurious (once you get over the ice part), surrounded by dragonflies, solitude and running water. Then another hour resting on the grass in my undies drinking tea and catching up on thinking about nothing. What was I doing again? Oh yeah – riding to Albany!
The ride out of Nanga was smooth. It’s 12km of pure joy. I’ve done this bit before (as part of the Waterous Loop) with my dog Tesla, so I knew what to expect. I pumped up the pressure in my tyres and just rolled. As the day went on it became more humid. Blue skies were replaced by cloud cover and by the time I got to camp I was sweating as if it was the tropics. I was copping bugs in the eyes continually. I brought some safety glasses so I had to put them on if I wanted to continue to see where I was going. The forest was dark and eerie. Riding into camp, I could hear rapids close by and there were a lot more green overgrown plants surrounding the black trees (comes after a fire) compared to when I was last here less than 6 months ago.
First things first, I fought the swarm of mosquitos in the hut, put up my mosquito net and set up bed before things got worse. Then started cooking dinner. I figured I didn’t want to hang around too much after dark. One of the water tanks was infested with leaches which poured a steady stream of wriggling bodies into my kettle. Lucky the other tank was clear.
While dinner was cooking I changed clothes. I started scraping some of the dirt away from my stomach and arms. Why isn’t it coming off? Hang on… why does all this dirt have legs? Oh shit. I’m covered in little ticks! As I start working away at the ticks, the mosquitos came to the party because my skin was exposed. EVERYONE! BACK OFF!
I fast forwarded to bedtime straight after eating. The infestation of bugs was too much to handle in this heat. Just as it was getting dark I thought heard a motorbike. A very slow motorbike. As it got closer, I could hear extra noises that I wouldn’t normally associate with a bike. Lots of screeching. More like an army tank? I lay under my mosquito net in the dark, listening to the tank getting closer and closer. I thought back to today – yeah there were these tyre tracks on the trail that would have been way too far apart to be a car. The noise was so deafening that I couldn’t hear the mosquitos anymore. Why does it sound so familiar? Why is it so slow? Is it going to come to the hut?!
Then it hit me – it sounds like a digger! A massive machine that fills up haul trucks with dirt from the mine. I work as an electrician on a mine site. And it sounds exactly like that. But relocating not working. Of course – they are using the track I just rode on to relocate a digger! I rode past a conveyor belt today. I’m in an active mining area. Woah! I finally fell asleep and woke up to the familiar sounds of haul t rucks – reversing, beeping, speeding down haul roads. So much for the serenity of the bush. I dreamt about work.
Day 7: Yay – Day 7! And I’m still here!
Bidjar Ngoulin Hut to Lake Brockman
9:15 – 4:30 45km
I’ve been on the track for a week! And today was a hot one – 34 degrees Celsius (about 93 degrees Fahrenheit) and I was sweating the entire way.
I’m not sure where people get the idea that it will “get easier”. Surely this is an in-joke between End-to-Enders. Today was far from easy but still just as fun. Rocky, sandy, up and down. The diversion to accommodate Alcoa’s expanding mining operation is a confusing one. Make sure you are full bottle on where you need to go because it can be difficult to follow.
There’s a stop at Willowdale Arboretum around the halfway mark. Was it worth the 5km round trip detour? Well, if you want to see the most depressing view of how devastating bushfires are – then yeah. The trees are still marked with charred signs so you can tell what type of tree had succumbed to a fiery death. I suggest give it a miss.
The best part was being able to see the ocean again after a strenuous climb (that snuck up on me) and then cruising down into Logue Brook Dam / Lake Brockman. (What’s with the two names?)
I realised that I hadn’t spoken for almost 2 days when I went to check-in to the tourist park and couldn’t find my voice! Apparently you lose it if you don’t use it.
Tonight I set up my tarp and mosquito net system, then tucked into some chicken, veg and cous cous. Good job Saf.