Warren to Schafer
The Hike - With the longest day out of the way between Pemberton and the Warren Campsite I enjoyed a lovely relaxing sleep listening to the rain fall on the roof of the shelter. Another lonesome night in a Bibbulmun campsite was fine with me as I headed to bed early to watch a movie and drink some wine. The wild weather continued overnight and I was woken a couple of times by debris hitting the shelter roof or a heavy downpour causing a racket. Waking up to a grey and drizzly morning I was excited to spend another day in the wet Karri forest (I love the wet weather). Being a short three day trip I hadn't gone all out and brought muesli for breakfast but once again I'd lost my appetite so only ate half while I enjoyed another hot chocolate. I had packed everything up very slowly and was just about to depart when a heavy shower passed over, proving that never being in a hurry on the Bibb can be a good thing.
I stood on the edge of the shelter watching it fall and I noticed what I thought was a small finch enduring the rain but on closer inspection of the photo I took it turned out to be a rock. I feel a bit silly now for watching it for so long but that's short sighted life for you. With the rain now subsiding to drizzle I put the pack on and started day two towards the Schafer Campsite. Between it and me was a forest full of delight, the Warren River and some more farmland so yet another lovely day of hiking. Being up on the top of the valley means a relaxed downhill start to the day, reward for the finishing climb from the previous afternoon. I noticed a few broken Warren River Cedars hanging over the track, possibly from the previous night’s storm as they looked to be fairly recent. Thankfully the forecast for today was only rain with the strong winds subsiding. The gentle downhill ends and after just over a kilometre you reach the first highlight of the day and a very special one at that, River Road Bridge.
After the loss of Long Gully Bridge to fire in 2015, this is now the largest wooden bridge on the track and has a similar look with the wide platform having the metal guard rails installed. While not as long as Long Gully Bridge, it's still great to see it surviving and serving as the crossing point of the Warren River for the Bibbulmun and Munda Biddi. I wanted to get more shots of the bridge but as I was crossing it the rains became heavier and I had to hurry some shots before burying the camera in the pack for a while. This is a section I plan to repeat quite a bit in the future so *touch wood* it is still there when I return. You briefly follow River Road with the Munda Biddi but soon turn off on a dedicated walking track. Getting close to the river in places, this section is full of fungi, moss and weirdly a few grassy patches that look far too manicured for an overgrown Karri forest. I retrieved my camera again and continued snapping photos of the wonderful scenes.
As I went up one of the many small hills in this area I noticed a moss covered fallen log just off the track being illuminated in the morning light with fog hanging around in the background. It was one of those shots you hope turns out but never quite does. Meandering around the contours of the river valley along with a few deviations up them was an enjoyable experience in the morning rain and exactly why I came out here. The previous couple of weeks had taken a toll on the track here with several trees, branches and other debris littering the track. Hikers find a way though and it wasn't hard to find the areas where others had picked their way through so it was only a minor stoppage when you came to something blocking your path. Being close to a major waterway means plenty of little streams and brooks to cross and that is done most of the time with small wooden bridges. Aside from keeping your feet dry, they are kind of pretty to photograph given their aged appearance with the moss/lichen taking over.
The Warren River is more on show in this section with more vantage points high on the banks to enjoy the deep tannin waters. As with most river valleys in the south west, you get a good concentration of the really good mosses and fungi as they take over fallen trees, living trees and basically anything they can. This provides a wintery green wonderland of textures, colours, patterns and features for you to photograph. While you are right next to the river, the trail doesn't follow a flat path as you end up climbing and descending several small hills for what seems no good reason. This is forgiven though when you come across a wooden boardwalk/bridge taking you over another stream. Providing a close up view of the stream made for a relaxing place to be and the extended boardwalk made me wonder how flooded this place can get during winter.
Your closest interaction with the Warren River today comes shortly after as the trail dives down and runs almost at the same level. The vegetation opens up a little and you get some wider views of the river as it widens. There is still plenty of sword grass blocking your way to the water but there are sections of small rocks you can stand near to get some better shots. Having already completed the Warren River Loop Trail that takes in a section of the river closer to the coast, I came across a scene not too far off what I experienced there. A couple of fallen logs on the other side of the river were in sections of still water and with the Karri trees in the distance, this brought a smile to my face.
Nearing the end of the river walking I was on the lookout for Moon's Crossing as it was marked on the map as the spot where the track leaves the river and I figured it would be a pretty easy landmark to spot. I think I was expecting a 4x4 crossing of the river as the area that it is meant to be in was just a little section of the track overlooking a bend in the river that looked like nothing could cross it. Turns out the road crossing is further down river but the map has a significant marking right next to the track. I remember this spot well as I slipped on a log as I clambered for better views and dropped my camera. Luckily it stopped where it landed and didn't bounce off into the river below. With another slight ding adding to all the others (Nikon D5300s are very robust)