Trip Report – Cape to Cape (WA) in winter

Trip Report by Erika Jacobson – June 2018

I love walking – not just because it boosts creativity, helps to clear the mind and has a multitude of health benefits, but also because I love being out in nature. Being in nature is what motivated me to move from the city to Margaret River in the West Australian southwest. Here the unique biodiversity of the flora and fauna and the coastal spectacle of the Indian Ocean on the edges of the Naturaliste-Leeuwin National Park provide an inspiring backdrop to a daily communion with a wondrous natural world abundant with wildflowers, fungi, trees, birds and breathtaking ocean and forest views!

…and then there’s the Cape to Cape Track. This 135 km, sign-posted trail that runs north south along the Naturaliste-Leeuwin National Park is an absolute treasure of Australian hiking wonder, excitement and challenge…and I have wanted to walk its entirety for a long time. Last week I finally did!

The only thing is that the recommended time of the year to walk to the track is October to December and with good reason: there are plenty of wildflowers, the days are bright, warm and dry and there is still water left at most of the watering spots. However, that is prime time of the year when at Edgewalkers we are busy with walks, retreats and workshops. So when my (romantic) travelling companion and I set off in August I knew that walking the Cape to Cape in winter would have its challenges but, ever the optimist, I knew there would be one or two advantages. Here they are:

1.    There is plenty of water – everywhere

It is recommended that you carry three litres of water per person when you walk the track, and in late spring & summer I might even carry more. In winter, however, there is no need. Every creek, brook, river, water tank and waterhole is spilling over and as long as you chuck a couple of little water treatment pills in the bottles for half an hour before drinking, there is no shortage of water. In fact, most of the time you can simply look up towards the sky and drink the sweet rainwater straight from the clouds because chances are it will rain, a lot, for a significant part of the trip; so you’ll hardly need to carry any water at all – yes, things can get very wet!

NOTE: Make sure you take special care crossing brooks and creeks as they spill into the ocean, they can be deceivingly deep and powerful…and invest in good wet-weather gear…and make sure the tent has a high waterproof base…and if you can’t afford special waterproof cases and bags, get acquainted with the Glad zip-lock bag…they are a lifesaver.

2.    Wild weather is sexy

I know it may sound crazy – but in winter the weather is exciting, changeable, spontaneous, feisty & you really get to FEEL, LIVE and BREATHE the elements…ok so it’s a little cold and a tad windy but take the rain and southwesterly gale that blew into us the whole of 4.5 kilometres of Redgate Beach; when would you ever get to experience that kind of invigorating challenge? Or the exhilarating teamwork and spicy repartee that goes into putting up a tent on sodden ground in the middle of a storm with the last of the light fading from the sky? Or my favourite, the character-building feat of slipping on cold, wet shoes and socks for another day of hiking? It may sound like madness and it may not appeal to many, but there is something especially sexy about being in nature in wet-weather gear and feeling it in all its intensity! Wet & wild weather is sexy!

NOTE: do not let travelling companion (no matter how cute they are) convince you that it is essential to carry UHT milk cartons on the walk…they are NOT essential…they are HEAVY…heavy is NOT wild and sexy…dehydrated miso soup is wild and sexy, instant porridge is wild and sexy… even two minute noodles are wild and sexy…

There are other reasons too

No snakes, no flies, hardly a single person sighting all day and a lot of whales and dolphins all along the coast (if you are looking)… and at night you can be assured that the howling wind and pounding rain…well…they add a certain magic touch of privacy to a cosy night in a two-person tent!

Cape to Cape Track (135km)

Author and Image: Erika Jacobson – Edgewalkers

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