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Adventures on a bike; sometimes on foot

GOW day 3: Aire river to Johanna Beach.

Again clear skies in the morning and a gentle breeze. In an area that has some of the highest rainfall in the country and some of the most changeable weather, our luck with the weather continued to hold.

Our morning breakfast was dominated by us trying to figure out what to do regarding the gas situation for the coming days. Our plans were now split into 2 distinct options. The first was to hope that Walk91 had some in the van when we met them for our food drop. The second was to bum a lift into a town somewhere to see if we could get some. There were a group of girls who were doing some epic car shuttling at the end of each day so they could hike with less gear through the day. We chatted to them and asked if we lucked out with Walk91, whether we could figure something out. Being the legends they were, they were more than happy to help if it came to it. So with a little less concern about eating cold meals and sucking on raw coffee grind for the last 2 days of our trip, we set off along yet more epic single track to see what the day had in store for us.

Sea to Summit pack taps are great.

Sea to Summit pack taps are great.

Almost immediately the ridiculously beautiful views started again. Rugged gnarled coastline standing firm against dramatic pounding surf. Deep blue water, powder blue skies and lush, strikingly green trees. Poets could spend lifetimes searching for the correct prose to do justice to how inspirational the coastline is here, yet still never convey the sheer impact it has upon you while standing in that spot. An overwhelming landscape reminding you just how privileged you are to be able to bear witness to nature at it’s most dramatic.

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Looking back at Aire river lagoon

Looking back at Aire river lagoon

I awoke from my reverie to realised I had phone reception. I managed to make a call to walk91 although it was early and prior to them opening. I left a meandering message about the imminent physical danger that running out of hot coffee would represent to me and hoped they would get it prior to us arriving at camp that night for our scheduled drop. The exact details of said drop were still pretty vague to me, however it was with hope that we continued along the trail.

More single track, endless single track. Damn I wish i could ride a bike along here was my though process for a significant portion of the day. Although given the views, I was probably likely to ride off a cliff while trying to take it all in. The day was heating up and Gea and I nearly popped a valve hiking up a steep hill, hidden from the breeze shortly after leaving the viewing platform at Castle Cove. We had to have a little regroup at the top and cool off as the heat was really starting to get to us. It was probably approaching 30c and the day following was forecast to be hotter again. We resolved to get going much earlier in the morning the following day to try and beat the heat as best as possible.

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It’s worthwhile noting Gea’s allergies at this point. She has a severe, bordering on life threatening allergy to hills. Coming from a country that is as flat as a billiard table, anything approaching a 1% incline is intimidating. Thus far, she had been remarkably resilient and we put it down to the hiking poles. That little bit of extra drive she could muster was the hiking equivalent of an epi-pen that saved her from going into full blown anaphylaxis.

Shortly after, we entered the first extended boardwalk section of the hike. In order to minimise the spread of cinnamon fungus, long sections of the trail were elevated which made for a refreshing change in scenery and walking style. It also meant we got to pass through some very sensitive habitats which might otherwise have been off limits. Of note was a some of the greatest density of grass trees i have ever seen. The whole headland was a sea of them. None were particularly old or established, however the sheer numbers were incredible.

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Shortly after we commenced the descent down onto Johanna Beach. So named due to the wreck of the ship Johanna long ago. This beach was soft. I’ve ridden a lot of beaches and seen some soft ones and this was right up there with the softest. It was tediously slow walking in the midday sun at what i assume to be high tide. Our destination was within site however it was like walking on a treadmill as it didn’t seem to be getting any closer.

Johanna beach in the distance

Johanna beach in the distance

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Eventually after digging deep slogging it out, we crossed a small stream and I dropped my pack to scout ahead up the beach exit to try and deduce if we were intending on going the correct direction. I sure as hell wasn’t lugging a 20kg bag up the soft sand and climbing out of the beach to discover we had taken a wrong turn.

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As it turned out, there was a GOW symbol pointing the way I was headed, so we regrouped, donned packs once again and headed off to see if we could figure out the food drop situation. There were a myriad of positions where the drop could be, as there were 2 distinct carparks separated by about an 800m firetrail. With packs on, we continued down the firetrail until the GOW route diverged from the carpark and headed off up a fairly substantial hill. Hmmmm, what to do. So we elected to head up to the big hill and set up camp and then try and find the Walk91 van without the burden of our packs.

The Johanna beach campground is about as good as a campground can get. Nestled on top of the hillside, on the cliffs edge overlooking the beach. It’s postcard stuff and somehow we were the first ones there and got our choice of spots. So we set up our tent and then headed back down the hill in search of food and gas.

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I think we walked that 800m section of road no less than about 6 times as we oscillated between carparks without any luck. Eventually we got our timing right however and came across the van and our food drop. Our fears were allayed that there would be a communication breakdown and the food wouldn’t make it from our hotel reception to our camp site! Huzzah! Not to mention that when we asked about gas, they had received our message and had an entire box full of gas canisters for us to buy. Not the little ones either, the big suckas! So i bought 2 which was ridiculous given how many nights we had left, but I didn’t want to be in a situation like that again. So now we had food, coffee, gas and an epic camp site. Life really doesn’t get any better.

Gas!

Gas!

After that, we were in the mood for a swim. The surf had been pounding and i really wasn’t in the mood to fight the mad sweep that was towing down the beach so instead we opted to just sit in the stream and cool off. It was perfect. The water was similarly cold to Aire river the night before however since you were only partially submerged, it was refreshing. We lazed around for a while until the threat of epic sunburn sent us off seeking some shade as it was still early in the day compared to our finish times from the night before.

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Back at camp we set up the tarp as a sun shade over a bench, blew up the mattresses and just layed around taking it all in. Watching the dolphins out to sea, reading a book and enjoying the afternoon heat slowly transitioning to soft evening hues and just feeling lucky to have such a great day with nothing to do. We lamented that we didn’t have the foresight to get some red wine delivered with our drop. Drinking a nice red and watching the sunset would have been quite excellent in our book. Alas, we will have to do so on our next hike.

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That night we set the alarm for early o’clock as the forecast was for 35c+ weather and we wanted to get cracking so that the walking didn’t turn into a death march. Laying down in the shade under a tree is always an option however Gea functions best if she can get the walking out of the way in a single chunk rather than putting the pack on and off all day. So getting away quickly was the goal.

Preamble

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

 

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