We woke up pretty early to try and beat the heat, 30 degrees forecast for our ride today. We managed to leave camp around 7:30am, but stopped off at one of the cafes in town for a cooked breakfast which set our departure back an hour or so.
Soon enough, the trail ducks back into the forest and starts to climb….again. Tennis managed yet another flat tyre, this time on an uphill section.
We spent the next two hours climbing, and descending on both dirt roads and forest track, by which time the temperature was also climbing. This trail is relentless, as soon as you cool down on a descent, the route kicks back up with another steep climb, many of which you need to push your bike up due to the trailer pulling you back.
The trail passes Nanga Brook, a nice little campsite around a small cascading falls, then follows the North Junction Form 4WD track through Lane Poole Reserve.
The surface was magnificent, hard packed clayey sand…we sat on 15km/hr for a few kms, it felt like we were flying.
The large ruts and steep rocky faces would be tricky in a 4WD, but were easy enough to negotiate on a mountain bike. The several brook crossings were pretty cool too.
The Bidjar Ngoulin Hut is about 30km from Dwellingup and many choose to camp here. We decided to plod on to Lake Brockman Campsite, another 30km. We stopped a few kms down the trail to check out the King Jarrah; the maps suggested this was only a few hundred metres off the trail….it didn’t really show that it was also 100m up. It was nice to see this massive Jarrah which they reckon is over 500 years old, but the hike really drained our legs – I was a little shaky when I got back on the bike.
The trail then has another diversion from its permanent alignment due to Alcoa’s mining operations. Sadly, this is a pretty garbage section of trail; it seems to have been recently constructed (I expect by one of Alcoa’s work experience kids to satisfy a condition of their mining lease) – the surface and scenery didn’t really impress me but perhaps it was all the additional unnecessary climbing that was the real source of my frustration!
We had lunch in a tunnel beneath a mining haul road which was a fair bit cooler than the ambient temperature outside, which was now over 30 degrees.
The afternoon session involved yet more climbing/pushing, pretty demoralising after a long day in the heat. The last few kms were flat and we rolled into the Lake Brockman Caravan park around 4:30pm after seven hours in the saddle.
A real tough day with another 920m of climbing to bring the total for the trip to over 4000m. To put that into perspective, the whole of the Mawson Trail was only 5000m….and we’re only six days in.
We caught up with Shaun, Matt and Di, cooked some pasta and had an early night. Exhausted.