Yourdamung to Harris Dam
The Hike - Our penultimate day on the track between Dwellingup and Collie and it was also our shortest full day at only 14km. My goal when I first starting thinking about completing my sectional end to end was to enjoy as much of the track as I could and not to rush things. If that meant I had a few 14km days then so be it, the slower I could take it then more I could absorb and enjoy along the way. In my younger days I used to be about pounding out the kilometres like they were badges of honour but these days I'm happy to doddle when I want and smell the wildflowers so to speak. With that in mind, this was one of the laziest mornings I've ever had out on the track. Waking up around sunrise I just laid there for a while in the warmth of my sleeping bag staring out at the misty scenes beyond the shelter.
I eventually got out of my sleeping bag to grab the camera and shoot the sunrise but will all the mist it kind of fizzled out. Returning to my sleeping bag I put on some music and just laid there for over an hour. I could hear that Aron had gone back to sleep so I just laid there in comfort and stared out into the distance and enjoyed the peacefulness. I can't recall why it took so long from that point onwards until we left at 10:30am but I do remember some robot dancing as Daft Punk played over my speakers. I was kind of hoping the misty conditions stuck around today and luckily they did as we finally left camp ready to embark on another wonderful day in the Jarrah forest. The area around Yourdamung is meant to be virgin forest, an area the loggers have never touched and there are some nice old examples of mighty trees still standing. Having confirmed the previous day that the prescribed burns that took place the year before had begun the recovery process, it was still a little sad to see massive fallen logs burnt to basically ashes, something that shouldn't happen in a controlled burn as it robs the smaller inhabitants of shelter and food.
Despite this though, the area in the misty conditions was epic and was some of the most peaceful walking of the entire trip. Practicing some deep breathing exercises, I was at home in the forest and completely at ease. Something that would be a theme of the day was the sounds of the birds, both large and small as they went about their morning business, occasionally fluttering near us as we made our way to the first road crossing of the day, Asquith Rd. Asquith Rd is quite a wide road, meant for mining vehicles and one I use quite a bit on my way to do maintenance. This was also the border of where the prescribed burns were carried out last year so when we crossed the road it was like crossing into a different forest almost. The undergrowth was a lot thicker but at an enjoyable level so we never had to worry about getting scratched or making a wrong turn. One thing I was enjoying was how Aron now blends into the forest with his dark rain cover and new Osprey backpack. It only took a few well directed comments about his love for fluoro gear and change occurred so thank you Aron, you can appear in photographs now.
Making an appearance along this section in great prominence was a mixture of sundews in the sandy parts and a plethora of Snottygobbles. Closer towards Dwellingup I remarked that these stringy yet lovely plants felt like kilometre markers as you rarely saw them and they just popped out of nowhere on their own. Now though they appeared in great numbers and this delighted me to no end as I love a good Snottygobble. Not only being fun to say, their bright green foliage adds a positivity to any hike, especially given the dark backdrop of an overcast day of walking through burnt Jarrah trunks. Settling into a good rhythm we were powering through the day's hike and were keeping up a pretty quick average speed for the first couple of hours. Aron stopped every now and then as he became the bird whisperer with a few finches deciding that he was their friend. Being super fidgety they were hard to get on camera so we ended up just enjoying their company, especially the ones that flew on the path and kept scurrying off a few feet and repeating this over and over.
There is nothing particularly noteworthy on this day and I understand why people would consider double hutting into Collie (or skip Harris Dam altogether) but that wasn't us today and instead I took great enjoyment in photographing the scenery even if it was a bit same same. Being a relatively flat day meant the high average speed continued on as we reached near the only significant feature they point out on the map, Caversham Rd at 11km in. Before that though I picked a log to sit on and we enjoyed a bit of a break. It probably wasn't necessary given the gentle terrain but I said to myself that I would stop more often on these hikes so it was nice to chill out and enjoy a snack in the quiet. We got going again and enjoyed the stepping logs that must come in handy when the area is inundated with fallen sky liquid before moving on to the highest point of the day. I was a little ahead of Aron at this stage but being at the top of a hill and within a day's walk of Collie I decided to take my phone off flight mode and try my luck. This turned out to be the correct thing to do as I got a few bars of reception and having deleted all my social media off my phone before starting to try and extend the battery life, there wasn't a great flood of activity you usually get when coming off a few days in the forest. I called Caris and let her know we were okay and having fun before trying to download the Instagram to check up on the world.
I could hear Aron talking in the distance and figured he had stopped to do the same and eventually he came walking down the hill still on the phone to Jen. Reception wasn't that great so the "gram" would have to wait but we got a weather update for our last day and continued on towards the campsite at Harris Dam. It wasn't long before I recognised a familiar sight, the new bridge over a small stream that was installed on the field day I went on a few months ago. Knowing the campsite was just up the 4x4 track we powered on and reached the home of the gnome a little after 2pm. The gnome is located high above the shelter so have a look for him when you visit, it's not something you would notice if you didn't know it was there. Being a fairly early arrival we decided to pass the time by lighting a campfire to try and dry our shoes out for the last day. I don't usually light fires on the Bibbulmun unless there are a lot of people around to socialise with but this seemed like a good time for our first fire of the trip. It was a bit hard to get it going with all the rain we'd had over the past week but eventually it took and we enjoyed a great afternoon/night watching bush television and the warmth that comes with it. Not sure why I look a little distant/grumpy in the photo Aron took of me but I was quite enjoying tending to one of humankind's greatest discoveries. Another successful day on the track and with only the final jaunt into Collie tomorrow we were both looking forward to a hot shower and a hot meal.