Monday, November 17, 2008

Munda Biddi Trail: Stage 1: Day 7

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.
         (Kurt Vonnegut)

Blue line with yellow dots = Munda Biddi Trail.
Green line with yellow dots = Touring route.

Image for illustration only. Important information has been erased from this map. Do not use.

Elevation profiles.

From notebook

'Woke up at 6:20 AM. Dawn breaking over the lowlands was gorgeous, but I was too tired to get up and snap a picture; that, and the 7° C (44.6° F) temperature and stiff wind made for a rather convincing argument to remain comfortably ensconced within my sleeping bag for another half-hour.

Dandalup Campsite is nestled within a stand of Butter Gum or Darling Range Ghost Gum (Eucalyptus laeliae) trees. Branches rubbing against each other in the wind moaned and groaned through the night. I could do without branches dragging across the galvanized steel roof though; the intermittent screeching is creepy.

This is the 3rd hut I've stayed overnight alone. The privacy is nice; and, as an added bonus, the security of my gear through my stay is less of a concern.

'Opened the logbook box and discovered a stash of food, candles, tea bags, and even, matches. Someone left behind a large canister of gas with 1/4 left. That nameless individuals would do their random bits to aid someone unknown, unmet, and unseen; who stumbles into camp cold, tired, and hungry; really touched me. I added a honey nougat bar to the stash.

There's not much water in the tanks. I'm not sure if this has to do with the hut's proximity to the trail, or it being on the lee side of the hill.

Left leg's medial collateral ligament (MCL) and ankle are stiff and sore this morning. 'Took 500 mg of aspirin after 1st breakfast (coffee and oatmeal). 'Will apply Voltaren Emulgel later, after 2nd breakfast (coffee and macaroni and cheese).

View during breakfast.

A closer look. (Yes, the hill is rather steep.)

Saddle sores: the left side is not so bad; the right side has a large abscess. Not much I can do about it at this point, apart from keeping it clean with Dettol™ antiseptic wipes, alcohol swabs every evening, and Neosporin™.

In case anyone is wondering, trail diversions and re-alignments (temporary or otherwise) are not optional.


Wider view.

Rejoice and contribute generously, valued users!

The view from the Dandalup Campsite restroom is good enough to join this club, IMHO.

A walk around the campsite before I leave.
(I slept on the upper left platform.)

Some clowns used a candle without a holder, damaging the lower sleeping platform. Tsk! Tsk!

Dining area. The barrier prevents you from pushing annoying campmates down the (steep) hill.

In the comments log, other riders also noted the absence of service racks from Dandalup Campsite.

As I'm short of a couple days of food, a stopover at Dwellingup during business hours is necessary. I wonder if I can make it in time today.

Today is going to be a longer ride — 45 km, according to the Daily Ride Guide. If time and security of personal effects are not issues, I would spend another night at Whittaker's Mill, 4 km south, and perhaps catch a sunrise over North Dandalup Dam. Oh well.

Today's planned ride is long, but there are multiple contingencies: Oakley Dam, at 27.85 km from here; and Marrinup Campsite, 39.84 km away. This makes the distance less daunting (and allows more time for photo / videography). Lets see how it goes.

One more look back.
'Didn't see any of these when I stumbled into camp last night.

11:15 AM
2 liters of water in Camelbak HAWG.
Temperature in the shade  20° C (68° F)
Elevation reading  905 ft (275.9 m)

Well, I'm glad I chose to spent the night at Dandalup Campsite then.

There's a sense of elegiac — and even, forlorn — beauty in passing through an abandoned place, especially one that formerly existed for recreation and pleasure. During my meditative wanderings, Dark Roasted Blend's series on abandoned places came to mind.

Whittaker Road.

Back into the forest.

A wider view.

12:35 PM.


An old gum tree.

(Yes, there were Kookaburras; and, yes, they were laughing.)

Pushing on.

Exited this gate in the opposite direction.

Whilst looking down to check my cyclo-computer, I missed a directional post, indicating a left turn, and overshot.

A bonus workout, grinding — and then pushing — the bike up a 300 m (984 ft) hill back north, ensued.

Lots of curses — the sort that would make Christian Bale blanch (RevoLucian's remix here) — and backtracking later, the directional post I missed whilst charging down in the other direction.

The trail I missed.

Mmm... clean water.

Rather than burst a lung pushing the rig over the mound, I tilted Cloe and slid her under.


'Tried several times, but my venerable Canon A510 just couldn't do it justice. (Yes, almost all of the pictures on this blog were taken by it.) DSLRs are just too bulky and heavy for my applications. There are very few instances where I find a compact camera inadequate; this is one of them. FWIW, Ken Rockwell wrote an interesting article pitting a Canon A530 against a Canon 5D.

One more.

Having crossed South Dandalup River, going up Gerbert Road, and making a left ahead.

A road grader.

More road construction machinery.

I guess I'm in the Shire of Murray.

2 oversized rigs.

An opportunity to brush up on low speed control (with trailer).

Not exactly trailer-friendly (and I suspect the rut is caused by motocross bikes).

Which brings to mind Trudy & Gernot's Munda Biddi Trail Ride 2006: The Track, or, What the Official Pictures Don't Show.

Believe it.


No, I didn't have time to explore this circuit.

North Spur Road.

50 meters of asphalt, then it's back to crunchy pea gravel.

Ascending in the shade of the arboretum.

(Gee... sounds like an album title for some goth metal band.)

Highest elevation for the day. According to the map, it's approximately 340 m (1115 ft).

Front wheel washed out on loose pea gravel during descent.

(No, I don't have this guy's sense of balance.)

A little more careful on the gravelly track this time.

Stuart Wheeler and his son, Morgan, did this section in the other direction in autumn.

The Alcoa Conveyor Belt, eastwards.

Bauxite from the Huntly mine, the largest bauxite mine in the world, is transported westwards to the Pinjarra Alumina Refinery.

In 2003, Mike Leishman, along with Mike and Doug, rode northward on this section of the Munda Biddi Trail.

Crossing the gargantuan Alcoa Conveyor Belt.

6:55 PM.

Cateye Enduro 8
Distance  30.52 km

Cateye AT-100
Elevation climbed  1390 ft (423.8 m)
4 hours 9 minutes 26 seconds
22° C (71.6° F)

Well, the gate is open...

Pom Poms or Rose-tipped Mullas (Ptilotus manglesii) bask in the fading light while I contemplate a push to Marrinup Campsite, in excess of 13 km (8 miles) and 160 m (525 ft) of climbing away.


Journal entry

For some reason, I had very low energy levels today — easily tired and exhausted. 'Missed filming 2 nice, long and swooping descents (one, after Torrens Road; the other, before South Dandalup River Bridge) as a result. Flies were terrible today, the sort that climb onto your glasses, obscuring your vision, sometimes even getting into your eyes; at other times, trying to burrow into your ear canal (kind of like government propaganda and clueless, wounded, feely, faux, Goody Two-shoes, annoying do-gooders with terminal, undiagnosed Messiah complexes). And oh, there's about 50 of them at any one time. But I was too tired to care.

Front wheel washed out during the descent from the arboretum and I crashed for the umpteenth time; this time, gashing my forearm. My long-suffering right hip got tenderized by the unyielding pea gravel too (again). With the push into Dandalup Campsite last night still fresh on my mind, I deemed attempting to reach Dwellingup or even Marrinup Campsite today unwise, and chanced on a little guerilla camping at Oakley Dam instead.

It was a rather long descent to Oakley Dam, and I hoped I didn't have to double-back up the next morning again. Referencing the map again later confirmed that the Munda Biddi Trail skirts it, so I can continue my journey to Dwellingup from here tomorrow. (Hmm... the signs must be wrong then. As I recall, the trail marker at the junction of Scarp Road and the entrance to Oakley Dam indicates to continue along the former.)

I located a clear stream about 500 ft (150 m) from the picnic spot. It would serve as my water source. Prepared for camp, and filled the MSR Dromedary Bag with 10 liters of water. It should suffice for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow. Pitching the Topeak Bikamper required a bit of improvising. Designed for soft ground only, the fork anchors didn't work too well in hard, rocky pea gravel; so, I took some rope and lashed Cloe to the picnic bench, and used rocks to prop the half-driven-in tent pegs in place.

Piles of trimmed branches left by the work crew lay abound. I broke off some and half-carried, half-lugged it back for a small fire in the designated BBQ pit — more for security than warmth. The area is undergoing rebuilding work, so the toilet floors are bare and clean. I actually considered laying a groundsheet on the toilet floor and crashing there, but there is a 5 to 6 inch gap between the wall and the floor — the tent is a better bet.

Also had a bath in the stream; the water is crystal clear and has little fish in it. Colin, from About Bike Hire, is right about bathing in creeks and streams: the water is cold, yes — but it is so cold it burns; so you rush in, wash up, and dash out. By the time the cold hits you, it is all over and you would already be nice and clean. You have only to dry yourself.

It is 16.99 km to Dwellingup tomorrow. I don't know whether to spend the night on a nice, soft bed at Dwellingup or continue another 17 km to Nanga, 6 km of which is labeled "challenging."

Wind's picking up now. Time to get some sleep.
-10:40 PM


Start  11:15 AM
End  6:54 PM
Total  7 hours 39 minutes

Cateye AT-100
Altimeter reading at Oakley Dam Picnic Area  515 ft (157 m)
Next day's reading  805 ft (245 m)
Elevation climbed  1390 ft (437.8 m)
Distance  19.2 miles (30.7 km)
4 hours 14 minutes 14 seconds
Average speed  4.5 mph
Maximum speed  19.5 mph
Temperature  7° C - 27° C (44.6° F - 80.6° F)

Cateye Enduro 8
3 hours 49 minutes 36 seconds*
Average speed  8.2 km/h
Maximum speed  31.5 km/h
Distance  31.35 km
Cumulative distance  203.58 km (127.24 miles)

* = The Enduro 8 doesn't appear to keep time or give a speed reading below speeds of 3.6 km/h (2.25 mph). E.g. when I'm pushing Cloe and Bob up steep hills. Distance, however, continues to be tracked.

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