White Horse Hills to Mount Wells
White horse hills
The Hike - Day Two of my four day adventure between North Bannister and Dwellingup and it was an early start thanks to the spring sun now rising at 6am. The two gentlemen I was sharing the campsite with were up well before me packing away gear and brewing their morning beverages so I eventually joined them after pretending to be a warm, toasty burrito for a little longer. It was actually quite a pleasant morning with the temperature warm enough to be comfortable in my hiking gear and jacket so I went about brewing up a coffee. As I was doing this the light show of the sun rising through the Jarrah forest was simply epic. A very light mist had enveloped, causing the light refraction to put on a pretty good display.
At one point I got a glorious beam of golden light streaming through the trees and managed to get a semi-decent picture of it. Cliff, the S-N end to ender was off quite early so Stephen and I bid him farewell and continued faffing about packing our own things away. Given the very short distances over the next couple of days, I wasn't too keen to be setting off super early and arriving at camp around midday. As much as I took my time getting ready I was still ready to go before 8am and so was Stephen. Stephen had started his end to end with his wife but she had to pull out at Brookton due to a viral issue that required an ambulance trip to the hospital. Given Stephen was on his own now and I've come to enjoy a bit of company on my hikes, I thought it would be a nice idea to hike relatively close together for the day. Long time readers of the website will know I am quite often alone on these longer trips with a few sections going by without seeing many other hikers so it was a nice change to have someone on the same schedule. With everything ready to go we departed White Horse Hills and began the journey south to the highest campsite on the Bibbulmun Track, the infamous Mt Wells (more on the infamous bit later).
Unfortunately what I didn't do while I was packing up was change my camera settings back from the sunrise shoot to my usual shooting mode so every shot was on a much slower shutter speed than it should have been. As I hiked up the hill to the highest point of the morning, every shot I took was sub-optimal, either very blurry or too overexposed to recover. I was lucky that a few were taken with a very steady hand or could be recovered thanks to some Lightroom trickery but on the whole there were a lot of blurry photos taken that had to be discarded. Making it worse, the scenery leading away from camp was lovely with a good amount of wildflowers on the lower slopes and granite platforms complete with Wandoo trees as you get higher and higher. After looking back at a photo to see if I had the focus right, I realised that my settings were all off and quickly made the correction (after kicking myself several times). It would have been nice to capture the whole day in the right mode but I guess I have to be thankful that I wasn't shooting in the wrong mode for longer.
While I had made the decision to hike with Stephen, early on I was more often than not ahead of him on the track, still getting used to his pace and hiking style. Taking the time to slow down myself, I took extra moments to admire the wildflowers, of which there were plenty, and just breathed in the morning air. Coming out onto an open expanse of granite, I spotted the first of the bigger droseras for the day just hiding in plain sight among the moss. After the closed in undergrowth of the first little section it was nice to be out in the open, examining the path forward as it wound up the hill. Patches of grass trees filled gaps in the boulder strewn slopes and with no sign of Stephen behind me I decided to press on and begin the short climb to the highest point of the morning. With the forecast predicting temperatures in the low 20s, I wasn't expecting the morning mist to hang around for very long so it was a pleasant surprise as I the entered the forest once again and you saw muted views of the valley below.
There are a couple of spots where the views open out and you look north towards Boonering Hill and the forests you walked through on the previous day. With the bite of the sun now starting to get a little stronger I could see the mist burning away down in the valley. Facing north meant the photos were very washed out so I only took a few and instead enjoyed the views first hand. Around this time I found an unwanted traveller had attached itself to me and this was the beginning of a bit of paranoia for this section. I scratched at my neck and found a small bump that I thought was just a bit of dirt or tree debris. After a bit of tugging to remove it, I had a look and unfortunately it was a tick. It wasn't something that was on my mind but given the warm weather we'd experienced over the last week, it wasn't totally unexpected. Slightly annoyed because tick bites take forever to heal for me, I was in a constant state of vigilance from then on every time I felt something on my skin, not a nice feeling to have for three more days.