Campsite Elevation: 362ft/110m
It amazes me how my body naturally wakes up so early in the morning even when I stay up late on town days. I was wide awake at 5:30am and got plenty of things done before the grocery store opened at 8am. It is good to have time to clear my mind and think about timing and logistics of things. I only needed to get a few bars from the grocery store because I have a box that I will get to tomorrow in the town of Northcliffe. I knew that the selection in Pemberton would be ok, but probably not something I’d really like for 5 days or more, so I sent a box to Northcliffe to cover that larger gap between towns.
After that, I spent a few hours at the visitor center using the wi-fi to get things done with my laptop. I got tons done and it was a huge weight to have so many things checked off the to-do list. I tend to have problems with efficiency sometimes and I have been rocking it this trail with getting things done and feeling organized. It’s nice to leave town and feel like things have been wrapped up pretty well. It is a never ending list of things I tend to have, so I try to prioritize the most essential ones and know that I will get to the others in due time. Exciting news is that I have my New Zealand ticket purchased and I’ll get a day in Sydney with a purposely planned 23hr “layover.” My cousin that lives there will give me the royal tour!
After mailing some things at the post office, I hiked out of town at noon to the next big landmark along the Bib, the Gloucester Tree. It is the second tallest fire-lookout tree in the world and it is crazy! Seventy years ago, firefighters put some wooden pegs into the large karri tree spiraling around tree to be able to climb it and use it as a fire lookout. Now it is an insane tourist attraction where anyone can climb up what is now rebar stakes to the viewpoint lookout. There is no harness or anything to latch onto and there are 153 pegs. It is 236ft/72m high. You just climb the rebar like a ladder as it spirals around The tree. I do not do well with heights, but I can do it and I wanted to see if I could do this one. Man, it was a challenge!
Thankfully there were not a ton of people there, so I did not feel like anyone was coming down or up on me. People actually pass one another if one is going up and the other is going down. There were a handful of people and just one guy near me that was nice. I took my time and made sure I had my holds with each step, and I very soon found myself almost spinning from the height. I just focused on each bar and did not look anywhere else until I got to the top. Going down was a lot easier.
Once I was down, it took a good 30mins to feel normal again with the spinning and adrenaline. I didn’t want to know the stats til I was done, but it seems that shockingly, no one has died falling off it, but there are many in the area (including the tallest in the world) and two people have died of heart attacks after climbing up and back down. I believe it!
The hiking in the Bib was still quite dense and more like a tunnel most of the day. It got up to 80F/27.6C and was almost hot for the first time all hike. I brought out my pink lemonade I’ve been saving for such a special occasion and was quite happy.
With the warmer weather, the big thing to beware of out here are the tiger snakes. They are black snakes with a colored belly that are poisonous. Apparently, it’s rare that they would strike unprovoked, so people are just supposed to scan ahead (especially sunny spots where they’d like to warm) and be super aware of where they step. It’s quite stressful and does have you feeling on edge as many have been sighted and it’s not uncommon to see multiple ones a day. Some people even wear thick gaiters over their lower legs in case they get struck by one. I’ve heard that even if they do bite, it’s less likely that they would inject a lethal amount of venom, but it’s not good no matter what and I think people have about 6hrs or something before they’d die. Yes, it’s stressful as many sticks and bark can look like snakes in the right lighting. I take comfort in knowing that it’s highly unlikely and am just being super focused as I walk on scanning ahead.
I guess the good news is that this hot day is just an isolated day and temps will drop back to those fall temps over the next couple days and stay cool for the next week. Unfortunately, along with that, the rain will return, but seemingly just lightly and on and off starting tomorrow evening.
I came to a brief view across a pasture and saw an odd looking cloud that seemed almost like it was from a fire rather than weather. I was glad it was further away.
Then about 30mins later it suddenly got dark and it was right over me. The sun was just an orange disc like it was a fire and the light coming into the forest was peach. It was worrisome and felt oddly apocalyptic all of a sudden. I was just an hour from the shelter where I knew a group would be if there was a problem, so I stepped up the pace. It cleared just as suddenly as it had came just 30mins later. Maybe I was still worked up from the Gloucester Tree, but my adrenaline got going again and I felt like I was on edge and didn’t like it.
I entered a swampy area that the trail thankfully stayed above that felt unique. I took this photo and then just 10 seconds later saw my first tiger snake. It was coiled up on the edge of the trail and slithered off to the side when I came around the corner and was a couple meters away.When I got to camp, not only were The Yanks (now just the two younger ones as the older two pulled out) and Kevin there as expected, there were also four others coming from the opposite direction doing a section. There was space in the shelter, but there were a great deal of mossies and bugs out tonight, so I tented like many of the others. Space was limited and I wanted to get a good night of sleep, so I went a good 10yds from the shelter and found a clear flat spot right off the trail next to a Wagyl. Great spot and I’m very comfy. Everyone was really friendly and fun to talk to over dinner.