Beedelup to Pemberton
The Hike - So here it is, my final day on the Bibbulmun for this section and it would be the longest day of the trip. It had rained on and off all night but I still managed a decent sleep thanks to my headphones cancelling out the sound of rain on the shelter roof. Thankfully it had stopped by the time the sun rose and I started to pack up. Skipping breakfast because muesli and powdered milk was too much to handle for the fourth straight day, I was ready to go by a leisurely 8am and feeling good about my final 24km into Pemberton. With zero mobile reception the whole trip I was still under the impression that today would be stormy so left my pack cover on and started at a decent pace just in case. I hadn't spent a lot of time exploring the Beedelup Campsite so I wasn't as sad to leave it like I had been the others.
The walk out from the campsite is straight up a small hill but it doesn't last long and I was soon in a nice rhythm on the wide 4x4 track. It was a nice morning to be out in the Karri forest (what isn't a good day in Karri forest?) and with many kilometres to go today I was happy to speed along this relatively uninteresting section. A mix of Sheoak and Karri forest, it made for a nice warm-up to the day but I soon got a glimpse of something I always like seeing in the country, farmland. Although I think way too much of the South West has been cleared for various uses, I do enjoy a good picturesque farm scene so to see a tiny peak at the end of a vehicle track lifted my spirits. I pondered whether or not to go off track and add some distance to my day but decided against it as it probably wasn't going to be the only chance I would get. I was rewarded at the top of the hill about 3km in as I reached Channybearup Rd and exited the forest to an amazing sunrise farm scene. The sun was trying to break through the thick clouds to the east and the area was a mix of pale golden light and blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds. I put my pack down on the other side of the road and began snapping away like a crazy person because I could.
I also for reasons I can't remember decided to check my phone to see if I had any reception and wouldn't you know it, I managed to crack a couple of bars and notifications flooded in like I hadn't had any reception for days. Torn between capturing the changing light of the sunrise and seeing what my family and friends were saying, I decided to check my phone for a little bit and let everyone know I wasn't lying in a ditch with broken legs. Confident there was no zombie apocalypse and the world had continued on just fine without me, I got another shock in the form of passing cars. I gave a friendly wave and received one back but not sure that really counts as human contact. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed from all the stimulation and may have passed out next to the paddock fence. A lick to the face from a concerned cow got me to my feet and I gathered up my things to continue on (I may be exaggerating here). The Bibbulmun Track here crosses into the paddock at this point via a set of stairs to help you scale the fence. I was actually pretty disappointed that the cows were all the way down the hill and not here to greet me but I at least got a nice shot of them grazing in the green fields.
The border of the paddock that you are meant to walk down in lined with some fairly mature native trees that are very pleasant to walk next to. Given you have spent the last four days surrounded by forest, the sensation of walking in complete openness might be a terribly weird feeling for some so it's nice to have something comforting there. I had mucha diversión taking photos from different positions as I walked down the paddock. I didn't want to leave this spot as it was just a nice place to be but all good things must come to an end so I climbed over the set of stairs at the bottom of the hill and entered the Forbidden Forest. After the wide open space of the paddock, you are straight back into some extremely thick forest that feels like entering another world. Looking back not 50m from the steps and you could only just see the green of the paddock. The thickness lasts for a little while before you round a couple of bends and are spat out onto a wider trail that borders another farm.
It was here that after four and a bit days that I saw my first bit of wildlife (Donnelly River Village doesn't count). A kangaroo or three jumped out ahead of me and then off into the bushes without stopping for a chat. I did get a photo of one offender but given I only wanted a chat and a pat, I was a disappointed panda. I don't really remember much from the next 7km as I decided at this point that I would turn the afterburners on and blitz through what looked like a fairly easy section of the day. The path does follow some flat ground next to Fly Creek (which is pretty fly for a white guy) and mixes lovely She-Oak with Karri. It wasn't unpleasant by any means, I just had somewhere to be and had my blinkers on. With music blaring from my pack, I thought I was averaging a good pace but it turns out stopping for photos when you are meant to be hiking doesn't help things.