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Adventures on a bike; sometimes on foot

GOW day 4: Johanna Beach – Ryans Den

Our alarm roused us just on dawn and we crawled out of our tent to a clear morning that was already showing the early signs that it was going to be a scorcher. We hustled through the packing that morning in quite good time. We were becoming quite a well oiled machine and were on the trail early. I’d guess a bit after 6 but i honestly can’t remember exactly.

This mornings walk was different again. The sheer variety of the trail is probably one of the things that impressed me the most about the GOW. I was never bored and it never felt monotonous. There was alway something to see. This morning the trail diverged away from the coast and climbed and climbed and climbed alongside farming valleys that were infested with kangaroos. From where we were standing, they were little more than tiny specs milling about below us. In fact, last nights ‘big’ hill to get to camp was now far below us and yet the trail climbed more. The grassy farming road soon changed to a gravel fire road as we wound between private property. We spotted a couple of wallabies by the side of the road that eyed us cautiously but allowed us to get quite close before finally spooking and taking off.

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Eventually our climb topped out as we took a left turn and dropped back down towards the beach. There was a quirky little roadside jam and marmalade stall that was interesting. They also had water for hikers although we still had plenty so didn’t avail ourselves. We pondered buying some Jam however looking at the glass jar and the enormous pile of rubbish that was accumulating as we steadily ate our way through our foodstuffs, we elected to forgo them.

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Soon we were entering the forrest again and after clambering over a gate (which is harder than one might think with a pack on), we wound our way down towards the beach. Despite being in what i thought of as perfect terrain for Koala spotting, i didn’t manage to see a single one all morning despite actively looking.

Down at the beach, there was a large group of young hikers frolicing in a stream. Given that the temp was now well over 30c it didn’t look like a bad idea however the thought of soft skin, sand and wet pants didn’t thrill me overly. Instead we elected to push on and get out of the heat as it was pretty rough. This is where the trail become undulating, with steep pinchy climbs that went straight up the fall line. In fact, the trail leaving that beach was probably the hardest section of the whole hike. It just didn’t let up.

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I think the section between Johanna and Ryans Den was probably the hardest section of the whole trip. The heat undoubtably played a role, but the terrain was probably the steepest and most consistently undulating of the whole walk. Not that it was unenjoyable, just the opposite, it was some of the most visually dramatic and engaging. Just that it wasn’t easy.

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This tree reminded me of a vegan grim reaper

This tree reminded me of a vegan grim reaper

We soldiered on and just as were wondering how many kilometers we had to go, we arrived at the campsite. We were EARLY. Like it was only a little after 11 am and we had reached our camp for the day. Ryans den is another stunning campsite and since we were the first to arrive again, we had our choice of campsites. We chose the furthest out away from everyone and set up on a nice flat little area that was within easy access of the view. We set up our tarp to try to keep the heat off and basically lazed around drinking more and more fluid as the temperature soared and we gave thanks that we weren’t still out on the trail.

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It was properly hot and after about 3 hours of lying around, I was starting to get a little agitated to do something, you know, because hiking 65 k’s in the last 3 days wasn’t really enough. The beaches looked AMAZING from up on our headland, crystal water and hardly a ripple to disturb the tranquility. Sadly however, we knew the only beach access was a LONG way behind us if we wanted to backtrack. As nice as a swim would have been, there was no chance we were doing and 8km loop to go for a swim. Ahead of us was an unkown entitiy and i was full of hope that there would be a goat track of some sort that would get us down to the cove that we overlooked from our campsite. To say that Gea was unenthused by the idea would have been an understatement. After deciding I was going to head off on my own to see what i could find, Gea finally decided she’d come with me under the strict condition that we could only walk 15 minutes down the track before turning around.

We set off with about 2 litres of water and it was so hot that after 15 minutes of fruitless walking, half of it was already consumed and we had been going downhill. There wasn’t any beach access to be seen and Gea was starting to look wobbly from the heat. Combined with her hill allergies, we called off the search and returned to camp to lie around instead and dream of how good a swim would be. It turned out to be the right call as there was no beach access for a very long way after when we set off the following morning.

With boredom setting in for me, I decided to see if i could engineer a solution for my blown pluggers. With the aid of a lighter and the cut out portion of the saftey cover from a gas canister, I managed to melt the end of the strap enough to get it to hold on. Success! Of course i now had one thong which was loose and the other that was tight, but i didn’t care – i was back in action!

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We headed to the top of the hill in my newly refurbished footwear to watch the sunset and pods of dolphins on the horizon as the first hint of a breeze all day started to blow which was the herald for a southerly change that was forecast to arrive that night.

Looking back at Cape Otway Lighthouse waaaay off in the distance. It was really really cool to be able to look back along the coast and recognise land marks that were literally days behind us

Looking back at Cape Otway Lighthouse waaaay off in the distance. It was really really cool to be able to look back along the coast and recognise land marks that were literally days behind us

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That night we went to bed without an alarm as we figured there was no urgency to get going in the morning. In fact, it was likely to be wet and I had a little mental disquiet regarding just how i was going to manage to put away a wet tent without getting everything else i owned wet or covered in mud.

It was a sticky night as the heat lingered and the lack of breeze meant we were almost glued to our sleeping gear. Sometime through the night the first drops of rain started to fall and there was an almost audible sigh of relief from everyone in the campsite as the temps finally fell and we could get some decent sleep.

Preamble

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

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