Day 2 :: Hewitt's Hill to Helena
A comparative sleep in this morning, well a rare morning where we didn't have to rush out of bed and into a busy day... though shocked to find I left the GPS on overnight after recording the day's statistics... but our first day of waking up, walking and going to sleep all in the Western Australian bush! It's a good distance today: ~20km as we're "double-hutting" from Hewitt's Hill through Ball Creak to camp at Helena. But we've got the morning tea stop at Mundaring Weir (which is only 5km into the day) and a lunch break at Ball Creak -- so we're getting it pretty easy today really. Our packs are just about empty too! Well, until Mundaring Weir...
Day 2 Google Earth Track
Hewitt's Hill Ball Creek Helena
|Length||20.43 km||Day Length||7:18|
|Ascend||1187 m||Descend||1047 m|
Shocked to find GPS batteries dead this morning -- quick check of the archive showed I'd left it on all night -- so it tracked our tent through the night. Swapped them out and put them on to charge -- still going at sundown tonight.
I'm happy to report that our tent did not go anywhere through the night! :)
Our first breakfast, and we're pretty happy with the muesli so far -- though there's many days to go. We pick up our first food parcel today from Mundaring Weir Hotel, which we dropped off 3 days ago. We also plan to have morning tea there.
Away at 8:45, a little before the itinerary as I'd used 9AM without knowing if that was realistic or not?
The first goal this morning is to get to Mundaring Weir and pick up our food parcel. The track down there is often following old vehicle tracks, and can be shared with other trails in the area, and runs along the rim of the valley. The Guide Book notes at 1.4 [that we measured at 1.469] "Gravel track leads down to series of flat rock outcrops with expansive views over Helena Valley": we decide that we're probably only here once so want to investigate everything! The views are expansive! The stop also gave Sandi the opportunity to attend to her shoes to make sure that no pesky blisters arise.
Mundaring Weir also becomes an ever present companion and gets closer and closer as we progress. We're still very close to suburban Perth, so the bush tracks get a lot of use (and upkeep), we enter South Ledge picnic area with formed paths and an awesome lookout over our intended morning tea stop.
It was just a little confusing after the lookout and the confluence of tracks: some of the guidebook's directions didn't really make much sense and we were often left scratching our heads wondering if what we were looking at was what the guidebook was describing.
Half an hour later the track has dropped us onto Mundaring Weir Road and we head for the dam wall. The stiff wind makes us take our hats off. The track up to the Hotel follows and crosses the pipeline; we'd walked these tracks some years ago with my Father, so had a vague idea of what we were doing, but we were very careful not to head off half-cocked as we'd remembered numerous accounts on the web of people getting lost on this section. There certainly are many competing tracks to confuse the walker!
We retrieved our food parcel, ordered morning tea and took over an outside table to sort out our provisions for the next 7 days.
I'm remiss, didn't mention the great morning tea at Mundaring Weir Hotel. Quite a choice of cakes; P had coffee and I had a spearmint milkshake and we both had a good hectic slice of Almond cake with blue berries cooked into it. Almost like a pie friand, and very yummy. Just the thing. Good milkshake too.
No problems with the food parcel.
We were using our SPOT2 Messenger to update our friends and planned to send a check-in message at our major stops during the day: morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and an "at camp" message at the campsite when we'd finished for the day. These messages were posted on our SPOT Adventure page and also my Twitter and FaceBook pages. The SPOT was our only "reliable communication" we had with our friends and family (albeit, fairly one-way), and it was great to know that everyone would not only know we were OK but also where we were. When we did have mobile phone coverage we'd often get SMS messages (we instructed people NOT to call, to save the phone battery) saying how amazing it was following the little trail of messages down the map. I'll post a review of how it went in a separate post.
After nearly an hour at the Hotel, we headed off again quite replete. Not far into the walk we saw our first orchid, and not long after that started feeling lost: the complexity of the tracks and the lack of waugals combining to make us feel a little concerned; but we plodded doggedly on and it sorted itself out. But it did feel that the Guide Book was out of date and the track was different to what was described in the notes. But it did take us to a nice lookout looking back over Mundaring Weir.
After passing through the Hills Forest Discovery Centre we came across our first boot cleaning station. We of course had read about them in the Foundation's notes, but never seen or used one before. Over the course of the walk we talked about them a great deal and eventually asked Jared, who we hutted with a couple of times, if he thought they worked: I think we are pretty undecided. But we used them every time we found them.
After the Forest Discovery Centre the Track makes its way through some pretty country on its way to Ball Creek Campsite, which is our intended lunch stop.
Got to Ball Creek, our intended lunch stop, in good time (actually 40 minutes ahead of schedule), so that allowed a very leisurely lunch with our boots off, socks drying in the sun. Each hut has a log book that should be filled out each time you stop or pass, which helps keep track of where people have got to if they go missing and helps calculate numbers of walkers. Ball Creek is a nicely positioned campsite, with a lovely outlook into the forest, but we thought that mosquitoes could be a problem.
Heading off again we almost immediately stumbled across another type of orchid, which really thrilled and lifted our spirits. The Western Australian bush tracks are very hard to get used to: they are so orange!
The sundews are flowering too: amazing to see those bright pink flowers in the midst of the bush. The Grass Trees are plentiful, or more generally so than what we're used to.
It's a warm day, and we take a little pack-off break in the afternoon, eventually getting to camp around 4pm.
Good walk today -- 20km and arriving in good time -- fills me with hope for the rest of the walk. So lovely to be out in the bush. The hut is full of people tonight: Alec plus 3 women walking the other way. Alec is 79 and is amazing. I'm glad we're in the tent. Don't know how Sandi does all that talking?
Glad to get to camp -- but not exhausted.
We set the tent up a wee way from the shelter (which seems pretty full). Another couple, from the USA, are in a tent too, but they are keeping even more to themselves. Helena is an amazing campsite with a really amazing view from the shelter as it's perched on the edge of the Helena Valley.
Windy at campsite -- little exposed and cool tonight -> marvellous view over the upper reaches of the dam.
Today, everything still feels new and different. The bush is very different to ours on the East Coast, every turn in the track brings new things to see. Many of the flowers are similar to ours and I can probably guess a family and genus... and the flowers have been spectacular.
We saw a wedge-tail this morning being pursued by a maggie. Haven't seen much wildlife, some nice parrots though. BUT the flowers -- sensational, 3 or 4 different sundews, also 3 or 4 different orchids. This amazing flower I can't describe. Numerous Grevilleas and pea shaped flowers. Beautiful blues... I'm raving. Loved some small mallee form trees we walked through, almost forming small tree circles: wild.
Our little evening routines are developing:
- At the end of each day's walk we start with a cup of tea and write our diary entries.
- The soup is chosen by Sandi like a lucky-dip and the meal is chosen to match the soup.
- Each night we rate our dinner (soup and dehydrated meal).
- We pack tomorrow's meals and water.
- We read the Guidebook's introduction to tomorrow's walk, and think about possible, if not exciting, morning tea and lunch spots.
|Soup||Mushroom & Croutons||2.5||3||2.8||3.9|
...and after all that there is not much left to do but to climb into bed: which is a good thing, as there isn't a lot of energy to do much else either.
|Hewett's Hill Campsite||0.0||8:46 AM||0:00|
|Mundaring Weir||6.8||6.8||17.7||10:39 AM||11:16 AM||1:53||1:53||5.2||3.6||3.6||3.4|
|Hills Forest||1.7||8.5||19.4||11:46 AM||0:30||2:23||5.7||3.4||3.6||3.4|
|Ball Creek Campsite||2.8||11.3||22.1||12:27 PM||1:27 PM||0:41||3:04||6.4||4.1||3.7||3.5|
|Helena Campsite||9.2||20.5||31.3||4:05 PM||2:38||5:42||9.0||3.5||3.6||3.5|
Created by • Last edit by on November 20th, 2018
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