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Trekking the Cape to Cape
Over easter my wife and I had the pleasure of walking the Cape to Cape track, located in the South West corner of Western Australia. This blog entry talks about how we went and some tips for others considering the trek.
To sum up the Cape to Cape walk in one word: tough.
As we opted to be self sufficient with food, shelter and water, it meant carrying about 10-15 kg’s each. For non-sherpa's like us, carrying this kind of load through soft sandy beaches, is the very definition of the word. A lot of people we saw along the way just carried daypacks and either had friends pick them up at the end of each day or had a vehicle arranged to be left at their day's end point. But to be honest, I think that being self-sufficient is a far better way to go, as you get to stay overnight in some really remote and amazing places as well as learn to conserve your supplies. It's a magical feeling waking up when the sun rises to birds tweeting and the waves crashing.
Our journey log as follows:
- Day 1 (half day): Cape Naturaliste to Mt Duckworth Campsite - 10.5 km
- Day 2: Quininup Brook - 19 km
- Day 3: Gracetown - 18 km
- Day 4: Prevelly Communications Tower - 22 km
- Day 5: Contos Campground - 16 km
- Day 6: Deepdene Campsite Track - 32.5 km
- Day 7 (half day): Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse - 17.5 km
Total distance: 134.5 km
Our progress of the trek was dependent on my wife and an injury she incurred due to poorly fitted hiking boots. They were well worn in boots but I don’t think she was used to walking in them for such a long distance day after day. A lot of people we saw on the trek simply used runners but the extra support of a boot is definitely helpful in some rocky places. As you can see from the journey log, we were doing on average about 18 km per day, but then did a massive push between Contos and Deepdene walking for over 11 hours. As this day involved a long walk along Hamelin Beach, my wife took her shoes off on the sand and this was partly why we had success. For the last 4 km’s near Cosy Corner however I was in a lot of pain with my legs and back but somehow made it and proud I stuck through it.
Some of the highlights of the track were the cliffs between Redgate and Contos campground (Day 5), our overnight stay on the beach near Quininup Brook (Day 2) which provided us with a much needed water supply and the magnificent Karri forests in the Boranup Forest (Day 6).
- Maps - make sure you get the Cape to Cape guide book. Whilst the path is well marked with wooden labelled posts, it can’t possibly be marked at ever turn. We didn't get lost ourselves, but heard from other walkers who did because they didn’t have the book on them at the time.
- Packing - pack as light as possible. It took us 3 days to realise this in the real sense and when we got to Gracetown we left a cache of about 4 kg’s of the unnecessary things like towels, swimming cloths, etc. at the friendly folks of Gracies Town Store.
- Meals - the freeze dried or dehydrated foods are great because they’re so light. Avoid heavy things like tinned food or things that aren’t packed efficiently like chips. There are 2 shops along the track that don’t require you to go off course at all - that is, Gracies Town Store (Gracetown) and The Hamelin Bay Caravan Park Shop. As the Cape to Cape book will tell you they’re are other shops in the areas of the walk but are usually several km’s away from the track, requiring more time.
- Water - we used a Steripen ($70 from Anaconda) for our water from the rainwater tanks and then for unclear water from brooks, etc, we boiled it. Be prepared to be carrying up to 3 litres each and keep an eye on your supplies between the next source.
Unless you race through the trek in 5 days, you’ll likely need to camp in the middle of nowhere on the trek because there aren’t campsites at every break along the way. There are some really nice places (other than the designated campsites) that you can stay:
- Quininup Brook - is a nice quiet place if you can’t make it the Moses rock. and it has the added bonus of the water supply of the Brook, which I can speak first had is sufficiently clear enough and safe once boiled.
- Boodjidup Bridge - has a nice grassy area to camp and is in a valley so its protected from wind. Just remember to have some mosquito repellent as the brook wasn’t flowing much when we went through.
- Willyabrup Cliffs - about 1 km north of these cliffs is a nice grassy area with trees around for wind protection.
All in all I came away from the trek feeling like I had achieved a lot and made the best possible use of my Easter break. I'd recommend the walk to anyone thinking of considering it.
P.S. I should have a video collage up at some point and this is mainly why there is a lack of photos here for now.