Hike Gone Wrong – Part 2

I left Part 1 of the story at the top of the mountain, two and a half hours into a hike that I expected to be finished in 3 hours, 4 at the latest.  It had taken us longer than expected (and seemed further than estimated distances) to get this far but my friend and I still thought we were walking the track we had planned which meant that we should have an easier, flat walk back along a fire trail.  At this point we could have retraced our steps and not have had any dramas.  But I have this thing about going back over the same ground….I hate it and try not to do it where possible.  Also I wanted to make it to Monadnocks Campsite, which was the goal of the hike.  So we pushed on….

Bibb track7 Bibb track6Bibb track5

Going downhill….literally and figuratively.

Did see lots of these little guys on the rockface.  The Ornate Crevice Dragon apparenly.

Did see lots of these little guys on the rockface. The Ornate Crevice Dragon apparently.

The beginning of the end...

The beginning of the end…once we had come down the mountain we came to this access road.  The trail markers indicated we should go right and further south to stay on the Bibbulmun trail.  We knew we needed to head North and that there was an old loggers track to take us back to the starting point.  I had been guzzling water til this point as I hate getting dehydrated, but I was starting to worry whether the water would last.  It had taken us 3 and half hours to get to this point.  We decided to follow the access road and knew that we would need to take a left hand turn not too far along which should link back up with the Bibbulmun Track again.

Not the Bibbulmun Track...

Not the right track and no trails to the left as yet…realization has dawned and with it the question…Where the bloody hell were we??

You sick of the photos of this road yet?  Yeah well so were we...it was endless....and those hills up ahead were heart breakers.  Not only were they steep, we thought that over the rise would lie our salvation....Nope, nothing but empty water bags and a slight sense of panic.

You sick of the photos of this road yet? Yeah well so were we…it was endless….and those hills up ahead were heart breakers. Not only were they steep, we thought that over the rise would lie our salvation….Nope, nothing but empty water bags and a slight sense of panic.

Told you the photos ended when we stopped having fun.  The good news was that under the telegraph poles we had signal so we pulled up google maps and worked out we were on Mt Cooke which was a completely different area than we thought.  We were quite a distance from our car which had sports drinks and spare water, we had been hiking for about four and a half hours, we had no water left, and while we knew the general direction we needed to take we didn’t know if we would find a trail/fire road to take us in the right direction or exactly how far it would be.  We thought it might take us 1-2 hours to make it back to the car in a Westerly direction.  (Hey, I forgot to mention that we saw an emu along the way!)

emu

Image Credit

I won’t lie it was quite stressful.  We had eaten and had a spare nut bar each so that was not a big concern.  We knew that we weren’t that far from the highway and we were currently on an access road so we could be found quite comfortably especially as we could even give a pole number to pinpoint exactly where we were.    So why didn’t we call Parks and Wildlife or emergency services?  Calling emergency services is not to be taken lightly.  We didn’t feel that we were in life threatening danger, had only just run out of water and were otherwise feeling OK.  Besides, we would NEVER live it down if we had to be picked up by a Park Ranger or god forbid make the news!  Two women lost while hiking….arrgghhh.  Really didn’t want to go down that path.  The downside was that it was now the middle of the day and really starting to heat up.  How long could we go before heat stroke or heat exhaustion became an issue?

A plan was made and we decided to head down a fire road that would take us in a westerly direction.  We would give it an hour and reassess at that point.  Off we went and slow and steady was the name of the game.  The trouble was that another hour went by and we thought we were still heading in the right direction but now we had no signal to check our position.  Decision time again.  Do we keep going and trust that we were heading in the right direction?  Or do we admit defeat and go back to the access road and call it in?  We couldn’t even call anyone now, emergency calls only.  The decision?  Trust our gut instinct and forge ahead.  Thirty minutes and reassess.  My lips were cracked, my mouth so dry.  All I could think about was the Staminade waiting for me in the car.  My poor friend was starting to feel the effects of over five and a half hours of hiking, her hip was twinging and the calves starting to cramp.  I was grateful for all my Adventurethon training that’s for sure, as my body did not let me down.

A further thirty minutes passed and still no signal.  We had been without water for over ninety minutes.  Snooze was starting to feel a little fatigued and we still didn’t know how far we had to go.  We decided to call emergency services (only call we could make with no signal) to at least advise of our situation.  BUT it didn’t work!!  No ring tone no nothing….seriously how is that supposed to work?  Time to keep walking.  We had got to our lowest point and then a little bit of hope.  We hit an actual dirt road with a sign….Millers Log Road.  This was very exciting, yay!!  Just keep walking, just keep walking….then not much further along we got signal!!  While I rang the hubby (several missed calls from him) and explained our situation and what road we were on, Snooze managed to clarify that we were 4.3km from the Albany highway.  Insert groan.  On the plus side we were no longer lost!  However, it would take us about 45 minutes to walk that distance and we didn’t know how far to the car once we made it to the highway.  My hubby decided that he would drive and meet us to make sure we got back to the car safely.  As we were walking along this road we saw a small bridge and wondered about water(really quite thirsty at this point, just saying), so we stopped to see if it was drinkable.  Suddenly there was a rustle of leaves and shrubs and something ran out and away from us.

wild-pig Image Credit

It was a frigging small wild pig!!  I kid you not and the only thing worse than a little wild pig is a big one.  GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

Turns out we came out only a couple of hundred metres from the car and as hubby took a wrong turn we told him to turn around and go home.  I am glad I was lost with Snooze, what a trooper.  No freaking out, no stressing, just cool under pressure and tough to the end.  So after seven and a half hours hiking (worked out later that it was about 30km), three hours without water, we made it to the car and the Staminade……ahhhh.  We stopped at the closest service station and bought more gatorade and an ice cold coke.  Washed a couple of panadol down with these drinks, got home and had a nice cold shower, put the feet up and we all lived happily ever after and ready to hike another day.  Don’t let this trip deter you, just learn from my mistakes, plan well, and go explore.

Tell me what would you have done in this situation??

Hike Gone Wrong – Part 1

In Western Australia, the Bibbulmun Track is a very well known hiking trail and is one of the world’s great long distance walking trails.  It stretches nearly 1000km from Perth and surrounds to Albany in the south.  It is marked clearly by these little trail markers, representing the Waugal – the serpent of Aboriginal Dreaming.

Waugal

You can read more about the history of the track, all the different track sections, hiking and camping information,  and purchase maps from the official site.  The track actually starts up in the Perth Hills so I have seen a lot of the little markers.  I have also seen them on our travels in Albany, Denmark, and Walpole, which is why my interest was definitely triggered and it had to go on the Hitlist.  Well at least a portion of it anyway.  Deciding on which portion was the difficult bit but I opted for something close to home and that was recommended as the top hike in the Perth area by Inspiration Outdoors website.  The walk I wanted to complete was the Sullivan’s Rock to Monadnocks Campsite portion of the Bibbulmun Track.

After completing the Adventurethon, starting school holidays, and surviving Christmas I was itching to get outside and do something active….time to walk a portion of the famous Bibbulmun track.  Now the clock was ticking a little for me to complete this item as the family and I are on holidays in Queensland and then we would be moving way up North to a remote mining town that is a world away from the Bibbulmun track.  So even though Summer is not the most ideal time to go hiking I reasoned that if we did a short section of the track (10-15km) and left early in the morning to beat the worst of the heat we shouldn’t be too bad.  The other issue that I rushed through in my wish to explore this track was not organising to purchase a decent map of the trail.  (You can purchase them here) Instead I found another map which was fine but not very detailed…yeah, sounds stupid now doesn’t it?

Map

The website actually had some good information and quite a detailed description of the walk and landmarks.

Now I don’t want you to think that I take any hike lightly.  These are the things that I check off when preparing for a decent hike.

  • Fitness level appropriate?  I am in good health and have a good fitness level.
  • Experience level appropriate?  I have been hiking and bush walking pretty much my whole life.
  • Map of the Trail?  I had a map of the trail (albeit in hindsight not very detailed) The other thing I will admit to is that we had the map saved on the phone, didn’t need signal to access but reliant on battery.  Next time I will make sure I have a hard copy map.
  • I checked DFES (Department of Fire and Emergency Services) alerts to make sure there were no fires or back burning in the area.
  • Checked DPAW (Department of Parks and Wildlife) for any alerts in the area.
  • Also checked the weather forecast for the day of the hike.
  • I had packed 2L of water each for my friend and I as recommended for this particular walk on one of the websites I had been reading.
  • I had food and energy gels
  • First Aid Kit?  I packed 2 compression bandages but I really should have a basic first aid kit.
  • I had a phone, fully charged for once (I know, amazing right); and
  • I wasn’t walking alone and my husband knew where my friend and I would be walking.

All set and ready to go.  Fully prepared for the walk provided things go right.  This is probably the biggest lesson I learnt from this walk, you need to pack for worst case scenario not the average hike.  I will stop talking now and let the pictures tell the story….

Bibb Track

Not a care in the world...heading up Sullivan's Rock the start of the day.

Not a care in the world…heading up Sullivan’s Rock the start of the day.

This was the point where it all went wrong...not that we knew it then...but the age old should have gone left not right.  Literally 10 mins into the walk.  We still followed those little markers though...

This was the point where it all went wrong…not that we knew it then…but the age old should have gone left not right makes a big difference. Literally 10 mins into the walk. We were still following those little markers, just up a totally different mountain…doh.  We also dropped the phone here and cracked the screen, very difficult to see our map very clearly after that.  Just a comedy of errors.

Enjoying the walk still oblivious that anything was wrong.

My friend Snooze.  We were enjoying the walk still oblivious that anything was wrong.

Just some of the sights and obstacles from the trail.  The photos stopped when it ceased being fun...

Just some of the sights and obstacles from the trail. The photos stopped when it ceased being fun…

Mt Cooke Campsite...first little seed of doubt planted at this point.  Mt Cooke was not on the map, but I did vaguely remember reading about it on my research of the area.  Plunged ahead as we had not gone off the trail or come to a fork at all.

Mt Cooke Campsite (these little huts are built all along the trail for overnighters to make use of).  First little seed of doubt planted at this point. Mt Cooke was not on the map, but I did vaguely remember reading about it on my research of the area. Plunged ahead as we had not gone off the trail or come to a fork at all.

How did we not know we were going the wrong direction I hear you ask?  We were following the markers still and on a well defined track.  The general course of the trail was still following the directions of the map we had.  We were questioning distances at this point to...starting to believe that we should have climbed at least the first peak in 90mins, but only just starting to climb.

How did we not know we were going the wrong direction I hear you ask? Well, we were following the markers and were still on a well defined track. The general course of the trail was still following the directions of the map we had. We were questioning distances at this point too…starting to believe that we should have climbed at least the first peak in 90mins, but instead we were only just starting to climb.

First peak?  Mt Vincent we thought.  Vaguely reassured that we were actually on track.

First peak? Mt Vincent we thought. Vaguely reassured that we were actually on track.

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We thought this was North Rocks, right?  Easy to convince yourself that you are on track.  We hadn't veered off the marked track at all and hadn't come to a fork in the road except early in the piece.  Still enjoying the hike, the company, and the views.

We thought this was North Rocks, right? Easy to convince yourself that you are on track. We hadn’t veered off the marked track at all and hadn’t come to a fork in the road except early in the piece. Still enjoying the hike, the company, and the views.

Well I am going to leave it there for now, while we were still happy and things were still under control…although a little behind schedule, two and a half hours in.   I will go and finish the final part of the story where we realize that we are lost, have no water, and are not quite sure how to get out of this situation.

Linking in with Jess for IBOT and her very random post on her focus points for 2015.