Thursday, 20 December 2012

Avon Valley National Park, December 2102

As I was on holiday's, the little one had finished school and the other half was still at work, I had a couple of days to fill in. What better opportunity than to get the ulti out for an overnighter.

On the weekend prior, I went for a drive there for reconnaissance. Firstly, to check if the gate was open (which it was) and secondly to check if the steep entrance track would be suitable for haulin the ulti.

I don't think getting down will be a problem (if you miss the ruts from water degregation), but coming up may cause an issue???? only one way to find out I guess.

The site down the bottom was quite large and open. A drop dunny and plenty of picnic tables to be had. Best of all, no people around...Yeah!

Due to unseasonal rainfall, the water levels in the river were exceptionally high

And so it was a goer. Wednesday would be the day for the overnighter. I'll work out how to haul the Ulti back up the hill on Thursday.

Arriving about lunchtime, the journey down the hill wasn't so bad. Using low range for enhanced engine braking was a better move than overheating the brakes on both the Paj and the Ulti. I missed the one big washout with the trailer, so that made me happy. At the bottom, I positioned the trailer and roughly set up the camper so that we could get lunch underway. Kaitlyn must have had a hard year at school because she polished off 3 ham sandwiches, 2 jelly's and 2 beers (Kaitlyn's name for soft drink - if you were wondering)

During sandwich 2, I heard a vehicle and went outside to investigate. It was the ranger. I think he was both shocked and surprised to see me down there with a camper. We chatted a bit and I gave him the grand tour of the xtrk. He was impressed. I then told him about geocaching and that there was one at this campground. So out with the handheld and we gave him a lesson. Again he was impressed. So much so, he didn't bother asking me for camp fee's. I told him we would be gone by lunch on Thursday (if I could haul the ulti back up the hill)

It was starting to warm up by now, so instead of setting up camp fully, I took K for a walk. The river had dropped lots since Sunday, so we decided to go across for an explore on the other side. There was a lot of what I think was an algae going over the causeway. So much, I didn't even entertain the idea of swimming. In fact, you can see the circular shaped floaties in the lower left of this pic. There was lots of it.

The other side of the river was the Westrail access road. I have travelled this road a few times before in my days of the inwater rescue team for the Avon Descent. It was bringing back some memories....and also had me wondering.....I'm thinking that Emu Falls (an Avon Descent day 2 highlight) wasn't that far away.

So we walked up and sat on the side of the cutting, waiting to see a train...After 1/2 hour, no train, so we headed back to camp as we didn't bring water with us. By now it was later afternoon and just the right time to go for a hike. Back over the causeway and waiting by the mainline. It didn't take long for a freight train to come belting through the cutting

After the excitement of the train went through, I coaxed K into going for a walk. I had to see if what I could see on my sat maps on ozi was Emu Falls. And about a kilometer, I was rewarded. It sure was Emu. I Told K of my stories of being in the Avon inwater rescue for a few years, well before she was on the scene. I was stoked to see the place again.

You could only imagine what it is like piloting a 10HP fiberglass bathtub or padling a kayak or ski through this

So with that done, it was time to return to camp to set-up and get ready for dinner. A peaceful and uneventful night followed. K went to bed (finally) and I retired to the red.

Morning came and so did the coffee with bacon and eggs...Yum. The flies were pretty ordinary this morning due to the lack of heat. A leisurely pack up and we were ready to see how I would go haulin the Ulti up the hill.

Once the terrain got a bit steeper and rougher, I went into low range. A few spots were a bit hair raising as all 4 wheels were losing traction trying to haul the 1T slug on the back up the steep and eroded incline. I wouldn't even consider doing this with a camper if its wet. Sucessfully negotiating the ruts with the Ulti still on its wheels we neared the top. And bugger me, the gate was shut....Oh crap, what to do now? There is no way I could reverse down that hill. So I stopped and engaged the handbrake  to see if it would hold. a walk to the gate revealed it was only pushed closed, not locked. So I opened the gate and made my way to the top of the hill.

Once through the gate on level ground, I stopped, attached the stone stomper and pushed the gate closed......I firmly believe in the concept that you leave a gate how you found it. Ask any cocky about this principle!

On the way out, I decided to check out the Moondyne's cage cache. I tried to find it on Sunday, but it was too bloody hot and I was sick of all the vegetation sticking to the sweat on my neck and back. And I'm glad I did. Cause I found it second time around and scored a nice travel bug to reposition (probably over xmas when I go down to Nannup). Then a few K's later, I stopped at another cache. This time I scored a nice geocoin to move on.

From there it was a leisurely cruise home, and a quick wash down of the camper and tug. In a couple of day's I'll head South to Nannup. With luck, I'll get a couple of days both before and after xmas to camp in the ulti before heading back to work on new years eve.

EDIT: 30th December...... A week after this trip I discovered a tick buried in K's shoulder on xmas eve. So off to the local for its removal. Then on boxing day, I discovered I was the host for 3 ticks. One in a place very close for comfort. So if your heading Avon NP way, be wary and take the necessary precautions. Luckily, it appears as if there has been no side effects of harbouring the parasites.

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