On the eve of our next adventure to do the Cape to Cape from end to end, I will tell you of our first attempt and what we learnt from it. For a significant birthday my husband requested an adventure experience. I decided we would go down to the Margaret River region, walk the Cape to Cape ending at the gorgeous Bunker Bay Resort. Mike loved the idea and away we went.
We have done long distance walking before, at this stage mainly with a group and remote so distances were quite short, maybe ten kilometres a day. So we thought we were walking fit, how hard can it be? We chose March, a gorgeous month in the south west of Western Australia and pretty dry. Maybe we would get an occasional shower and a mix of cool and warm days, warm enough for a cooling dip. We were going to stay in Bunker Bay on the northern end of the walk, so we would walk from Cape Leeuwin in the south to Cape Naturalist in the north.
First day from Leeuwin to Deepdene campsite was 27 kilometres. We set off after having to do final pack and taxi to the start at about 10am. It was sunny with some clouds out to sea. All Ok so far. Here's the thing. After no real walk training, first day, heavy pack, beach walking, 27 kilometres was a long day. A very long day. We finally arrived at the campsite and it started to rain. Nothing worse than trying set up camp in the rain after a long day hiking. Then being tent bound all evening while it pelts down outside made for grumpy hikers.
The next morning the rain was coming in showers so we managed to pack up and hit the track. You know sometimes you are just not in the mood. After a long day and a wet night, today was one of those. The beach walk was OK until I got swamped by a wave as I tried to clamber up a sand drift. With my back pack hampering my efforts, the " beached as" cartoon comes to mind. After topping up water at Hamelin Bay, it started to rain with more purpose. The plan of a 30 degree day turned out to be more like 15 degrees. The rain, it just kept coming, sideways in fact. We had good gortex jackets but we bought them over ten years before. Turns out gortex don't last forever – who knew. It kept raining. Rain rain, rain, record rain, and more rain., gee these rain jackets are too old and leaking. We are wet through and it turned out we ended up with hypothermia. When we stop for a rest, Mike was shivering uncontrollably. That is not good, so we have to keep walking to keep warm.
We put on our thermals but they ended up wet as well. We would have no dry clothes when we did get into camp. Even if we get to camp, it is too wet to make a fire, we are wet through, no dry clothes, we packed for March. We are not going to be in a good place. So we made the difficult decision to give up and headed for the highway. As we reached the road cold and bedraggled, a flower van stopped and picked us up. We jumped in the front bench seat and even with the car heater up full bore, we shivered in the car. The kind driver dropped us off at a cosy motel in Augusta where we stay for the night. It took us all evening to warm up with hot showers, heaters, hot food, electric blankets and warm donnas.
What we learnt was to never take the forces of nature for granted, we took our hometown weather for granted. In Tasmania you would never go out with out proper gear. Our jackets were old and leaky. We bit too much off on the first two days, didn't train enough. Since we have done the Bibbulmun end to end in one go, 967 kilometres in nine weeks.
The time has come to reface the Cape to Cape with benefit of hindsight and experience under our belt. So the end of September 2012 is the new plan for our Cape to Cape adventure. Going in September means we will be ready for any climatic event. The wildflowers should be fantastic. We are going to walk north to south (downhill as the joke goes) and the first day is only 13 kilometres so an easy start. We are excited and looking forward to it.