Bibbulmun Track - Noggerup to Grimwade
Start - Noggerup Campsite
Finish - Grimwade Campsite
Campsite - Standard
Distance - 22.4km (One Way)
Vertical Climb - 522m
Time - 5-8 hours
Date Hiked - 17th September 2018
With overnight rain arriving, my run of good weather had come to an end but I do enjoy a drizzly day in the forest so was happy for the change. My fellow campsite users were up and about as I went to get water for a morning beverage. Given our short conversations last night I was confident they were not hiking all the way to Grimwade today as they were "taking it easy" and doing some "off-track hiking".
I packed up my wet tent and possessions before filling up my water bottles and finally departed just after 9am. Refusing a generous offer of a joint from the two middle aged stoners, I was happy to be back on my own as I rejoined the 4x4 track that led in and out of camp. Making sure I exited the correct way, the start of the day involved some lovely mature Jarrah forest with a good variety of wildflowers and some fungi. Starting with a moderate hill is not a polite way to begin your day but it hardly seemed like any effort with all the colour dotting the forest floor. The moody conditions suited me just fine as the greys and blacks of the Jarrah trunks came through a lot better in the photos. Reminding me of the Sika Trail in nearby Wellington NP, this was a lovely start to the day. After going through a mid of a 2000s trance mood for the first two days I was back into something a bit more relaxing and in touch with walking through the damp forest.
This meant I spooked an emu a bit too quickly and didn't manage to get a photo of it as it scurried away into the distance. Moving on I came across a small gully that had some old tree trunks fashioned into stepping stones that meant I didn't have to worry about getting the boots wet early on in the day (not that it would have been an issue). A rusty muffler or piece of scrap metal attached to a tree stump provides a point of interest as you begin on 4x4 tracks through some taller Jarrah forest. It may not be to everyone's taste but I quite enjoy racking up the kilometres in this type of forest and just getting into a rhythm. Spotting an orchid brought me out of my rhythm momentarily before an intersection with another 4x4 track.
Given there wasn't to photograph besides long forest tracks, wildflowers and orchids (not a bad problem to have), I got a wide panoramic of this intersection because it looked kind of cool and I love seeing so many trees in one shot. Leading up to the crossing of Mandalay Rd, the emergence of more Marri trees with their gnarlier and thicker bark became apparent. Livening up the sometimes dull looking Jarrah forest, these provided some variety but also more gum nuts on the track so watch your ankles. Making a turn to run parallel with Mandalay Rd, the track became very messy with a large number of fallen branches, trees and general debris littering the surrounding area. Occasionally you'll have to step over a log or two but it is much better than some sections of Warren to Schafer.
A small downhill section leads down to a gully where I decided to stop for a bit of a rest in the drizzle. Looking at the map I was coming up to some virgin Jarrah forest and this had me intrigued as to how different it would be from the rest of the surrounding forest. I'm generally easy to please but I wondered what made this bit so special given the amount of forestry tracks in the area that they decided this bit wasn't to be chopped down. At my rest point I admired the mossy features on some of the peppermint trees before getting up and mentally preparing for the upcoming hill. It's not steep or long but still a good calf burner as you ascend up into forest similar to what you have been experiencing all morning.
The track does a weird loop around this part so you end up going in the wrong direction for a little section, perhaps to avoid cutting through the bulk of the virgin forest. One thing that was annoying me was the visible evidence that a trail bike rider had been through as the track was cut up in the middle and tyres marks dominated the ground. There were some very nice examples of old Jarrah trees around the place but from my estimates, a lot of them occurred outside of the place marked on the map so I was left a bit bemused when I stopped for lunch and was trying to figure out if the whole forest was meant to be virgin or whether it was the one particular spot they'd marked on the map. Before lunch though I had a run in with another emu and this time I got the shot I was hoping for.
It seems a lot of my wildlife run-ins come when the weather isn't fantastic and in this case I think my movements were masked by the falling rain. I got my shot as the moist emu camouflaged amongst the burnt Jarrah trunks so it's a bit hard to see (scroll through the sliders and see if you can spot it). When the rain stopped I took a break not long after to put away my jacket and looked at my GPS to see that I was roughly halfway for the day and so decided lunch was a good idea. I livened up lunch today with a new flavour of Clif bar today (Sierra Trail Mix) and it wasn't too bad. It won't surpass Peanut Butter or White Choc/Macadamia but it had some nice flavours.
It was here that I finally met a hiker going the other way when I ran into Spotted Kiwi, an older gentleman, as he completed his S-N E2E. We had a bit of a yarn and he remarked how many people were going N-S but he wasn't catching or following too many S-N. Given I rarely run into many hikers on these town to town sections I thought it was normal but explained that N-S seems to be the more popular route. Wishing him luck we went our separate ways and I soon arrived at the next point of interest for the day, Lowden-Grimwade Rd. While roads are generally a convenient way to break up the checkpoints as they are hard to miss, I think this is a particularly funny thing on this day as there really isn't much else but forest walking.
The area after Lowden-Grimwade Rd was fairly interesting (to me) with the track following a raised railway formation and the chance for some cool shots of nothing but gently winding trail through familiar forest scenes. You'd think I would have been sick of it by now but I was enjoying my walking, which was good as this bit lasts for quite a while. Making it a lot easier was the steady 100m elevation loss over the next 3.5km so this is where you can pick up the pace if you want to. Settling in with some Harry Potter audiobook and a fantastic podcast series about the series called Binge Mode I powered on, only stopping briefly when I reached the bottom of the hill at another small gully for a drink.
With 7km to go there was still a lot of track to cover between me and Grimwade so in the sunshine I set off again. Taking you through a mix of flat Jarrah forest and hilly Jarrah forest meant things didn't get too mundane (I joke). There was one section that was very lovely where I had a calming feeling wash over me for a while like I had experienced at the Gloucester Route but it didn't last as long. A series of rising hills takes you to one final high point before descending quickly into a valley of thick Karri Hazel and a greater variety of wildflowers. Thinking I was near the end I was happy enough to rise out of the valley as my expectation was the campsite was on top of this hill but there is another separate gully you must descend down to before the final hill.
Luckily it is only a short rise to where the campsite marker points you off in the opposite direction to the track and you know home for the night is only a short walk away. With fairly sore feet hampering my final few kilometres I was happy to arrive at Grimwade to do my usual will there/won't there guessing game around whether I'll run into another hiker or three. Grimwade was empty so I wandered around the campsite perched up on the hill with some lovely forest views and a bevy of wildflowers in all directions. This was a relaxing place to be after a long day on the trail and with the afternoon sunshine providing a golden hue, the paella for dinner went down a treat.
As I was enjoying a hot chocolate and thinking about retiring for the night I heard footsteps from the direction of the entry track. Sure enough another hiker was entering camp just as the sun was setting. The reason for the late arrival was a decision to double hut from Yabberup as he had rocked up to Noggerup to find the same stoners I had encountered. IT was his longest day on the track during his E2E at 43km but he didn't feel like spending the afternoon with the couple at Noggerup (and I don't blame him). Not long after we were joined by a father/son-in-law duo that had done the same thing and soon the tales of their hard day were coming out. The father/son combo reckoned the Noggerup stoners were out looking for magic mushrooms and once I heard that it made all the sense in the world. The "off-track" hiking, the abundance of other illicit substances they were carrying and the fact they said they weren't physically capable of hiking more than 10km a day. We all had a laugh about it and after a quick dinner the three of them all retired for a well deserved rest.
Final Thoughts - After the variety of Yabberup to Noggerup, this was a return to the Jarrah forest walking that the northern half of the track is well known for. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable as I had a blast appreciating the subtle difference in the various forest types and the changing colours of the trunks.
Being in wildflower season also helped but after the beauty of Preston National Park the day before, it didn't quite have the same lustre.
I know certain people don't enjoy endless Jarrah forest walking (looking at you Don) but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This day didn't feature much of the recently burnt stuff that makes the landscape look bleak and miserable most of the time so I hope it stays that way (but not likely given the DBCA penchant for scorched earth).
Grimwade as a campsite is lovely with a great position over the valley and a healthy forest surrounding it. While the standard style of the hut is not my favourite (apart from the bench seats at the front), Grimwade features wider bunks in the stretch style.
All in all this was another enjoyable experience, even if it feels a bit same same for a lot of the day.
Get out there and experience it!!!
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