Frankland River to Giants
The Hike - After a chilly start to my Walpole to Denmark adventure, the night was unsurprisingly just as cold but now having the right gear, this presented no problem. With another short day on the trail I wasn't really in a big rush to leave the comfort of my sleeping bag and get ready so I didn't. Peaking my head out of the shelter, there wasn't the rolling mist or fog along the river that I was hoping for. With that I retreated back to my sleeping bag until the sun was a little closer to the top of the canopy. Listening to the sounds of the birds, the river and the wind through the trees, it wasn't a bad way to start the morning. With the light now getting stronger and the call of a cup of coffee beckoning, I left the comfort of my cocoon and started my morning. While the water was boiling and the coffee brewing, I had a bit of a wander down to the various spots near the campsite to view the river.
This is a spot I could spend a lot of time at, just sitting and listening but with a whole day in the forest, I was keen to get off exploring and spend as much time just dawdling along. With my gear all packed up and breakfast consumed I said goodbye to the Frankland Campsite and disappeared into the thick undergrowth leading into the forest. With a light drizzle hanging around, I was in perfect hiking conditions for a day spent in the Tingle forest. The map and distance calculator indicated about 15km for today and the elevation didn't seem too bad (although the end figure for the day was relatively high) so I was careful not to rush my hiking. Slowing down and taking every opportunity to photograph a flower or piece of moss, this is the kind of hiking I really enjoy. To start with there are occasional glimpses of the river and you begin a semi-circle to take you back towards Tingle Drive, the 4x4 track that you walked down on the previous day to reach the valley floor. To warm the body up, you depart the river and head uphill where I found a lovely array of wildflowers and moss dotted along the path.
As always happens with moist conditions in the southern forests of WA, I was having to wipe my lens quite a bit and also take photos as quickly as possible to combat the lens fogging from my body heat. The upside of this is the air was humid and being deep in the forest and on the other side of the hill from the ocean, there was no wind to chill the air further. I didn't get the opportunity to warm up much as my pace was super slow thanks to plenty of fallen logs, wildflowers and amazing wide shots of the forest. One particular plant along here was capturing my attention a lot as it was in the perfect flowering window and that was the Tassel Flower. Looking similar to bamboo, the green leaves look out of place compared to the other plants of the southern forest but it is native. The flowers are a very delicate pink and white affair that drape down from the stem and look very nice when in full bloom.
Coming down to the bottom of the hill you reach a road that I understand was put in after the Bibbulmun Track was routed through this area and is of a possible sinister nature for a national park (i.e logging). Looking back down the road there is a row of strategic Karri trees to give the impression of everything being cool and normal. As is the case with this day of hiking, you are very rarely on a flat section so once again you are climbing, albeit very gently. I made a cool discovery here with my eyes catching something unusually bright and green where my foot was going to step. Not having the best of luck with wildlife on my hiking trips, it was great to see (and also not step on) a bright green frog that I think is a common Motorbike Frog. My last frog sighting on a trail was on the Luke Pen Walk and that one was unfortunately deceased. Not wanting to disturb this one, I assumed it was fine, otherwise I'm sure it would have eventually returned to the circle of life.
Rising up the hill, the Karri and Tingle forest I was used to started to disappear a little and in its place was what I would expect to see near Dwellingup. On top of this little hill was a patch of Jarrah forest complete with some tall Kingia Australis to provide some variety to the walking. This wasn't entirely unexpected as I'd listened to the episode of Real Trail Talk we did on this section while having breakfast to prepare for the day (and also hear Donovan and Steve's voices) but it was still great to see in person. Being up high compared to the trees growing on the slopes of the valley, it was great to see the impressive age and girth of some of them where the undergrowth isn't as thick in places. A really cool piece of fungi stuck out at me that looked like beautiful coral and I'm glad the fogging issue stayed away for that shot. Descending down the hill towards Sappers Bridge, the Jarrah forest disappears and it's a return to the smooth trunks of the Karri forest. It started to rain a little harder around here but thankfully there was a tunnel of undergrowth I was happy to spend a bit of time under while I waited for the rain to pass.