Walking the Dargle – Secret Forest

After writing up yesterday’s story last night,

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and making our lunches for the first days walking,

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we all collapsed into luxurious beds for a good nights sleep.  Once again, a huge thank you to Carl Bronner for hosting us.

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This morning, the mist shrouding the Dargle dawn slowly lifted, revealing the beautiful forest right on our doorstep. At 05h30, Mike Farley arrived to drive us up to the top end of this long valley known as The Dargle. Sadly, due to other commitments, he is unable to walk with us, but it was great to share an early morning cup of coffee and the start of the walk with him.

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We will remain eternally grateful to Will Griffin for taking second shift after Mike and driving us up the 4×4 track that leads to the source of the Dargle River.

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Cresting the hill, the mist hung in ribbons over the forest and valleys,

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bright pink Watsonias

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and yellow Berkeya greeting the day.

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Will gaily pointed us in the right direction

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telling us that the first 200 metres were easy going, and thereafter the terrain was very steep.

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The seep nestled in the grassland soon produced a small stream of water, and we started the day, as always, with a water blessing, said goodbye to Mike and then off we walked.

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Will’s words that the terrain was very steep proved that he is the master of under statement.  As the grasslands meet the forest, the stream plunges over the edge in a vertical drop, and without rope we had no way of following the water.

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So we headed back down the hill,

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hugging the forest edge as we wandered,

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slowly making our way to the foot of the hills

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until we at last reached an accessible area of the forest and steam.

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Then the long trek back up the stream began.

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Yellowwood and Knobwood trees, ferns, wild flowers, moss, slippery rocks

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and sparkling clear water assailed our senses as we headed up the stream.

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We climbed all the way back to the top until we could go no farther

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and then turned around and headed back down, stopping for a cool dip in a small pool

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and a drink of refreshing forest water

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What a pleasure to be able to fill our water bottles from the stream!

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How true Will’s early morning words were – “this is a magnificent valley”, and that we were “embarking on a great adventure.”

Suddenly the light got much brighter. We were at the forest edge, emerging from the morning coolness into the harsh, bright sunlight. A pretty little dam greeted us, two yellow bill ducks gliding silently past us.

P1270379Then we found the first impacts – invasive bug weed, and so the recording began. Preven GPSing every impact we found, whilst I (Penny) recorded the details onto a Dictaphone.

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From there on it was the literal, as well as proverbial, downhill all the way – the first commercial farm and there was suddenly a drop in the water quality as we passed staff houses, historical pastures up to the river banks,

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dumping on the river’s edge,

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and a variety of invasive plants. On the bright side, there has been some invasive clearing.

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After having to negotiate only seven fences today,

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the last hurdle – a gate – presented no problem!

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We headed down the road to where Doug Burden was waiting to collect us and return us to our base.

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The usual evening tasks – preparing tomorrow’s lunch, downloading the days photos and the Dictaphone transcripts, charging batteries, wringing out wet socks, drying boots and packing our gear for tomorrow were accomplished over a glass of wine with Nikki Brighton, the wonder woman responsible for getting our daily blogs out every morning.

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Nikki also brought us a divine veggie curry for dinner. Thank you so much Nikki!

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About Nikki Brighton

I live in a Magic Cottage near the mist-belt forest with my African dog, Dizzy. We enjoy long walks in the fields to gather wild greens, sitting on the verandah with a pot of tea, and harvesting vegetables outside the kitchen door.
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