|Everything looks better in the morning.|
The best thing about stumbling into a campsite in the dark, is when you awake, it's like you're in a whole new world. The previous evening, Smuffin and I, had arrived in black out conditions at Tin Mine Cove Camp. My recollection is hazy, but I believe my arms were outstretched, one foot was being dragged behind me and I was audibly groaning. Oh, just to help you out. I'm not describing a scene from the Karma Sutra, but rather inferring I was zombie-like.
It was creaky getting moving after such a mental day, but there was no time to put the feet up as this one had its own fears. Not long in distance, but a majority of time spent negotiating an intermittently marked inland section with the notorious Chinaman Swamp at the top of the list, as a potential horror spot.
Actually, before I get into it, a perusal of the map in the morning threw up some interesting observations. It seems in the ye olde days, whoever came up with the names in this area was short on ideas. I mean, really, what's with the Chinaman obsession? This day consisted of facing Chinaman Long Beach (as opposed to Chinaman Beach which was a little further north), Chinaman Creek, Chinaman Swamp and whilst we're at it, bypassing Chinamans Knob on the way. Oh, if you're wondering, Chinamans Knob is quite small, which was to be expected really.
Anyway, arriving in the dark, we might have well been on Mars, as we had no idea what was around us. In the daylight though, a wonderful landscape was revealed. A visit to the beach was also mandatory, as we needed fresh water from Tin Mine Creek. The descending track was easily found...
...before arriving on the sand to find the creek flowing well, as it spilled out into the sea.
Again, we took a punt and didn't treat the water. As I'm writing this now and am not dead, you can assume the water was fine.
It's a pity we hadn't arrived at Tin Mine Cove in the early afternoon, as it looked like a great place to relax in. Instead, we were more or less on the go straight away, as we didn't want to replicate another finish in the dark.
Leaving camp, we had to retrace our steps from the previous evening to Chinaman Long Beach. I must say, I've no idea how we didn't go arse-up in the dark. The track was narrow and full of potential leg-trippers. Rocks and branches jutted out into the path and it was really quite amazing we're still not there now, rolling around in the bush somewhere. The views were nice as well...
...as I looked back at Tin Mine Cove.
We followed a non-distinct track, as it hugged the coastline...
...before Chinaman Long Beach appeared through the trees and what a wonderful sight it was as well. Low tide is the beach hikers dream and the water couldn't have been any farther out.
I must say, the shorts routine still wasn't working well, as the occasional branch would dig into my exposed knees, slicing off a bit more skin. Lovely, hey? So it was a relief to descend down to the sand for an interlude of pain-free walking.
This may have been the best beach walk I've ever done in my life. No wind, calm sea and a perfectly untouched beach with no signs of litter, which seems to adorn every other coastal walk I do. Oh, firm sand also made it a cinch, plus there was an incredible sight. Thousands of tiny soldier crabs were busily roaming the sand.
It would appear I would have stepped on a few hundred, but they were masters at avoiding my impending elephant stomps, so there were no casualties reported.
Really, the conditions couldn't have been any better for a morning stroll...
...as the sand stretched out towards the distant sea.
This is all lovely, isn't it? It's a pity we couldn't walk all the way back to the car along the sand. I'm not sure if it's possible, but I'm sure some punter has tried it. I'm assuming it gets a little swampy and marshy if one continued? Anyway, that wasn't for us to discover. No, we were about to head inland again and face the wilds of intermittently marked terrain. I must say, when leaving the beach I was a little disappointed to be facing this immediately.
I mean, you're kidding, right? It looked like another long day trying to work out exactly where we were going, where we meant to be and wondering why people voted a halfwit to be Prime Minister.
Luckily after a bit of pushing and prodding of trees, an opening appeared and we could kinda see where we were going. Sort of.
Strips of weathered tape and thin plastic tubes were our guide and it was a matter of scanning ahead to see the next marker. As I was medically diagnosed with 'very fast eyeballs', I led the way. Oh, you're wondering what this condition is? Don't ask me, but when I had my last eye examination I was sitting there like a chump, having a test where I was meant to track different objects. At the end, the Optometrist said, "That's good. Your eyes are very fast at picking a target". So there you go. If I stand and stare out at a landscape, I can rotate my eyeballs at high speed and spot all sorts of things. I think this is a skill, but then again it might not be.
So, what happened through this section? Not a lot, as we were gearing up for the infamous Chinaman Swamp. A section where water can be over waist deep according to recent rainfall. Until reaching this point, it was a matter of strolling through a landscape, which was quite devoid of features...
...other than the hills at a distance.
We passed quite close to Chinamans Knob and I kept my mouth closed as we did so, as you never know what might happen.
I must say, it certainly was level walking and remarkably easy, as the strips of tape continued to pop up, guiding us along the way. We were well on target to reach Lower Barry Creek before dark, but if we didn't, the landscape was littered with ready made lanterns. These looked like they were straight out of Tombraider. Light one up and you'd be laughing.
After the previous days tragedy of breaking his well travelled, home made walking stick, Smuffin used one of my trekking poles. No problem, but as per usual the terrain was beginning to bite and he ended up doing what he does best. Bleed...
...all over the cork hand grip.
Now that pole looks like it's come straight out of an abattoir.
Chinaman Swamp was fast approaching, as we pushed through tall grass, not knowing what was coming up.
How deep would it be? Would we drown? Would we be eaten alive by swamp monsters? So many thoughts, but guess what happened? Yep, absolutely nothing, as the swamp was dry as a chip. Literally not a drop of water to be seen anywhere.
Oh well. That was a lot of fear about nothing. I must say though, I can imagine it being a pain to negotiate when wet. Looking at the surrounding grass, there were watermarks up to my chest level in parts. Maybe in late winter and spring, it'd be wading time. On our trip in late May, it was a cinch.
Wandering on, the sky did look a little threatening at times, with cumulus clouds forming over Vereker Range...
...and with dry weather since the start of the trip, I was fully expecting rain at some point.
The terrain may have looked flat, but there were still a few traps for the unwary. At one point I thought I'd lost my hiking partner. One minute he was there, but in the next he'd vanished. After a bit more strolling I found him, trying to recover from an epic face plant. There's nothing quite like smashing your face into the ground when out walking.
You know what? Other than spotting this rather spectacular fungus...
...we arrived at the Lower Barry Creek camp with minimal fanfare. There was a bit of dicking around at times, as we lost the tape markers, but overall, the day wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was slow going though and a fleeting thought of trying to make it all the way to Five Mile Road and subsequently finish, were gone, as we arrived late in the afternoon. There was no way we'd bother continuing on in early darkness, after what had happened the previous day.
I was going to include the little Garmin GPS map, which I've done quite often in the past. The thing is, I'm not going to bother any more. They changed Garmin Connect, where I upload the maps into the blog from. As a result, hundreds have been corrupted, so I had to delete them. It took me quite a few hours of going through old posts, deleting all of the maps, which were now worthless. So Garmin, all I can say is, fuck you very much.
Luckily, I never trusted Garmin Connect and always made a copy of the gpx files, so I do have all the walks I've done. If you want one, I can email it. In the meantime, no more maps on posts!
What to make of it all? Well, this day had horror written all over it and other than a few million more scratches to our legs, it wasn't too bad after all. What's next? Well, it'll be the wrap up of this hike and thankfully, something new!
In heading off, I must admit this has been a rush job of a post. My stinking internet has kept dropping out and after an hour of speaking to Telstra, the end result is the modem is probably stuffed. It works, but I have to keep rebooting it, which means this post never got its mojo going. I reckon I've typed all of this in about 37 seconds in between internet connection. Oh well, you can't win them all. Until next time...