Day 8 :: Mt Cooke to Gringer Creek
We look forward to one of our longest, and probably hardest days today: yet another "double-hutter", but we were intent on thoroughly enjoying the "challenging and spectacular" Mt Cooke before the run into North Bannister (and our steak), on one of the flattest sections on the track. A last minute decision late last night to start early because of intended rain and to ensure we didn't miss closing time at Three-Ways Roadhouse meant that we set the alarm on Sandi's mobile phone.
Day 8 Google Earth Track
Mt Cooke Nerang Gringer Creek
|Length||30.42 km||Day Length||8:41|
|Ascend||1144 m||Descend||1115 m|
After a crowded night at the campsite but alone in the shelter, which introduced all sorts of interesting questions (like: "Where is the appropriate place to get undressed with the campsite crawling with pubescent teenagers?"), we woke to a cool, misty morning and launched ourselves into the day.
Woke before alarm and got moving, very pleased as all up and away by 7:15am after a reasonable sleep, though pretty cold overnight I think, and some very strange dreams. P said he dreamt about acting in a play with Rosemary. I dreamt about Peggy and some weird former life and doing very bizarre 3-point turns in a mini into someone's garage and the door closing and some woman then opening a different garage door to drive out.
The Track out of Mt Cooke is very well worn and defined, which is probably good because there was just a little confusion with the description in the Guidebook (probably due to the recent fire necessitating a realignment of the Track).
Anyway, we set off at quite a slow pace; P taking heaps of photos. Chap with school kids said rain was forecast and last of mist was rising off Mt Cooke as we approached.
Well, Mt Cooke: flowers (Orchids of various sorts and these wonderful pink daisies, a mint bush flower) a rock wallaby we saw very close, saw black cockies ripping into some parrot bush, well maybe not, something they were crunching. Wonderful views and huge granite boulders which were gorgeous. Altogether Mt Cooke was most worth a look.
On top of Mt Cooke we had phone reception and SMS from Grahame: meant a 20 minute break sending SMS's so that he could get a key and stay in the house.
In the book they warn of slippery rocks in the wet, but in the dry it was great walking cairn to cairn. Didn't stop to look for big cave, but pressed on down.
Whilst Sandi was organising accommodation for our friend Grahame from afar I was busying myself with my camera and the wonderful flowers on top of Mt Cooke.
The walk over Mt Cooke, like the other hills, was simply amazing. I hope the photos capture some of it.
The track after the floral and scenic bounty of Mt Cooke was pretty subdued and a little stark. We didn't feel like we could stop for morning tea there and pressed on till we got into some bush again, on Cooke Road.
Reached an underwires treeless zone and some marvellous flowers including the tiniest fringe lilies you ever just managed to see. Glad of a morning tea break with a toilet stop very necessary.
Then we tried to press on at a good pace and really stepped out on fairly level straight track where the diversions round fallen trees were mainly marked with waugals. We supposed they considered our brains were in "sleep mode".
Headed past two marked trees quite charcoally and then on to Nerang hut, also completely destroyed by 2003 fires, so directions in book not quite a match. Three drops of rain fell.
A fairly quick stop for lunch, still most welcome. Wetted banbanas and away at a good pace, though it wasn't long before leg and limb were protesting, feebly at first and then with louder and louder cries. Terrain is fairly level, changing from wandoo to marri and jarrah to swampy scrubby and grassy (not in order).
We didn't stop long at lunch, though Nerang looked an interesting and spread out campsite (it's the only one that has a map to the toilet in the shelter). After lunch we girded our loins for the quick march into North Bannister, essentially attempting to get there as soon as possible: so it was heads down and go-go-go; which in hindsight was a huge shame, because this section of the track had some really beautiful Wandoo woods.
After lunch at Nerang it was a bit of a slog: felt we needed to walk as fast as we could to ensure a cooked dinner. Over Mt Cooke it was a real amble!
Parts of the afternoon felt like an out of body experience -- which was a shame as those were some beautiful sections. Serpentine River was a huge disappointment -- not even a rock crossing to photo!!
We had planned on stopping at the Serpentine River for an Afternoon Tea break, we had been tracking what must be a tributary for some time on our left; but when we finally crossed it, it wasn't really there... not even the promised "rock crossing"!
Canning River was everything Serpentine River was NOT. Somewhat disappointing, but we took a break, both of us with swollen hands. Very glad of staminade, then with our boiled lollies and seizing our courage: headed on.
Track just seemed to go and go and go and go. Little blue flowers and native buttercups cheered us a little, and a bird who's call sounded like "peek-a-boo" and just as if it wanted to play. But really we were stuffed. P said he felt like he was having an out of body experience and we just had to push on.
Finally reached the hut just before 4pm, so a great effort. A note from Alec in book (we'd thought of him catching the bus at 1:20pm) congratulationg P for choosing the cooler walking day for the big double hut [thank you God]. Unloaded most stuff, thought it should be OK; no one else around and the grafitti we'd been told about just a few children's texta drawings: no tags.
So with P laden and me with rubbish, we headed down to the roadhouse, seemed to be heavily down hill and long. Arrived to find they'd had a quiet day, but we were just in time to catch the kitchen. Guess that rushing was very justified, and very worth it.
We definitely felt that we were in good time: we'd got to camp at 3:59pm; changed, unpacked and got going again by 4:20pm; arriving at Three-Ways 4:42! But there was an uncomfortable pause by the lass serving when we asked, "We'd like to order a meal for the restaurant." She looked at us for the longest time, then said, "I'll just check that the kitchen is open..." What was really dreadful was that she was away checking for an inordinately long time: really unfair if you ask me!!
But she eventually came back and announced, "That'll be OK, the kitchen's still open" without any real understanding of what was happening on our insides at that time :)
Legs and feet were definitely feeling the pain and by camp and 30+km were quite sore. It was a long 1.3km to the roadhouse though!! I think we both rated our meals 5+++!! Waiting for the meals to be cooked, with our feet aching in our boots, was the hardest thing. Several times we almost had to be physically restrained from taking boots off (which I think would have had an interesting aroma).
I had steak, salad and chips. P had steak, mash and mixed vegetables plus an egg. They gave us a lovely jug of brown onion gravy and very yummy. We bought a loaf of frozen white toast bread, an apple and an orange and a White Magnum for P and a Golden Gaytime for me. What a meal and how we loved it. I really didn't think I'd feel that way, so surprised. The 250g steaks we had, there was a 450g on offer.
Our feet killed but potential smell and then having to resume boots deterred us from removing them.
Meal over and food parcel packed, rubbish jettisoned, we headed back up the hill as the sun set. Somehow it wasn't as long or as steep as I'd remembered. Just dark as we reached the hut.
|Restaurant / Cafe||Total||S||P||S||P||S||P|
|Threeways Road House||4.0||5||5||2||3||5||5|
Managed to plod back until Sandi said we were going too slow, then we skipped along the stepping-stumps all the way home :)
WHAT A DAY!
|Mt. Cooke Campsite||0.0||7:17 AM||0:00||0.0|
|Mt. Cooke||2.5||2.5||116.9||8:17 AM||8:38 AM||1:00||1:00||37.2||2.5||2.5||3.1|
|Nerang Campsite||11.2||13.7||128.2||11:45 AM||12:15 PM||3:07||4:07||40.3||3.6||3.3||3.2|
|Cowcher Road||5.2||18.9||133.3||1:21 PM||1:06||5:13||41.4||4.7||3.6||3.2|
|Gringer Creek Campsite||11.5||30.4||144.9||3:59 PM||2:38||7:51||44.0||4.4||3.9||3.3|
I can't quite remember what I thought today would be like, but I knew it'd be tough. We finished with most parts of our bodies aching, and after moving our stuff into a corner (just in case someone else arrived) collapsed into bed... to do it all again tomorrow (albeit at a more relaxed pace).
Created by • Last edit by on November 21st, 2018
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