Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sea to Summit

This 31km hike was in honour of the late George Driscoll, author of this particular Sea to Summit route, as published in the "50 Real Bushwalks Around Adelaide".

Brighton Beach to Mt Lofty Summit

This hike took 9 hours I think, from 8am to 5pm, and was a hike organised by The Friends of the Heysen Trail. We met at the kiosk next to the caravan park at Brighton, dividing into two groups, one group to hike the whole way today, and a second group to finish at Belair and complete the rest of the hike next week.

With the 27 people hiking the whole trail we set off, hiking through a mixture of conservation parks, national parks, fire trails, reserves, walking paths and roads. We set a good, fast pace to ensure we made it to Mt Lofty Summit before sunset. It was steep early on, then again through Belair National Park, but generally, despite the overall 727 metre altitude climb it wasn't particularly steep. Following the railway line from Shepherds Hill to Belair National Park was quite flatish, as was sections of the Crafers to the summit.

Hiking beyond the freeway exit at Crafers was my favourite section, following little used fire tracks and trails through the bush. It was a little eerie as the temperature dropped and the fog came in. The morning had been a little drizzly, and through Belair National Park and these trails near the summit their was lots of water around, so all our shoes got a good soaking. When we reached the summit it was eight degrees (having been 17 degrees earlier), but strangely it didn't feel too cold given the tough hike we had just completed.

Graham brought five of his Year 6/7 students along, they had done some training hikes, and were just bundles of energy leading the pack. They quietened down a few times, but were quickly revived with food. We had lunch at Belair National Park, Trevor and another cooked us up some sausages (not recommended for hiking tho!).

During the group hysteria of having completed the 31km hike, I agreed to do the 50km hike of October's Trailblazer with Coleen and Jenny. Some fervorous sms'ing also had Tim in too, so the four of us have teamed up for it. The Trailblazer is a fund raising hike, from Adelaide Oval to Kuipto, with various endurance distances available, I think 18km (end of Linear Park), 50km (Mt Lofty Summit) and 100km (Kuipto Forest). You have 24 hours to complete the event in your team, and they have support stuff along the way. 50km can't be that much tougher than 31km... surely? Btw I had never hiked 31km before in one day, I think 25km was my previous record.

50 Real Bushwalks Around Adelaide
2004, Scout Outdoor Centre,
ISBN 0 64630 510 7
View Trail Notes

Map from the book

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tough hiking - but I didn't let on

I was accused of not letting on that I too, the well seasoned hiker, was finding this hike difficult. But that climb at the northern end of trail, along Ambers Gully, was bloody tough.

The Yurrebilla Trail
Section 5: River Torrens to Morialta
Section 4: Morialta to Norton Summit

We have had plans to hike the 54km Yurrebilla Trail for some time now, and our need to do some training hikes in preparation for doing the Overland Track in January 2009 (yes, 18 months away) was paramount (in the past 12 months, we'd only hiked in the Flinders for one weekend).

So we met in Norton Summit, leaving a car there before driving to the end of the trail, near Linear Park/River Torrens at Athelstone. The Yurrebilla Trail goes from Belair National Park to the River Torrens, some 54km divided into 5 sections. Today we hiked 2 sections, Section 5 and Section 4. Section 5 was listed as 'hard', 13km and 5 hours, and Section 4 was listed as 'moderate', 7.5km and 2.5 hours. The whole 19.5km we hiked took us 6 hours.

Ambers Gully was a delight (through Black Hill Conservation Park), albeit short lived perhaps as the steepness of the grade soon had us thinking second-thoughts. It was at this point, that perhaps, I should have let Tim and Kate know I too thought it was quite tough. Apparently Kate was too busy panting to notice me doing likewise. Tim and I heard what sounded like a wild pig, but turned out to be a koala. I'm not much of an animal spotter, and have never heard a koala in the wild before. I've only ever seen them all drugged up and sleeping. We hiked up to the summit of Black Hill, and down into the valley which Montacute Road passes. A steep climb down, I'm glad we hiked the direction we did than have to hike up this steep climb out from Montacute Road.

Following Montacute Road for a little less than a kilometre, we then hiked up into Montacute Conservation Park. There were a couple of tough sections. Tim grew increasingly quiet, so we fed him some Snickers and he pepped up. Entering Morialta Conservation Park, we ate lunch at the Deep View Lookout overlooking the fast flowing First Falls. A spectacular viewing platform, I was really impressed with hiking through Morialta Conservation Park. I had forgotten how good this place was. We hiked past the Second Falls and onto the Third Falls. It was here, we found a sign stating that the trail was closed due to washed out bridges and rock slides. We didn't know it at the time, but apparently it has been like this since at least August last year. We hiked on though, as we were committed with a car at each end of the hike.

Nearing Norton Summit, we took a short cut of about 150 metres, cutting out at least a kilometre of up and back. We saw the old barns, also part of the trail, from the road, and cut this section off too, saving perhaps another 300-400 metres. Arriving back at the car, we enjoyed some light snacks at the pub at Norton Summit.

The Old Barns which the Yurrebilla Trail officially passes through

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Seven Minutes Past Monkey

The monkey laughed, Dan, or a leader-by-proxy, had pulled it's legs - it now squawked with laughter. It was the signal, time to move out - in seven minutes anyway.

Alligator Gorge to Mambray Creek

Monkey featured highly in Dan's leadership style. This little toy monkey, with it's elastic legs, woke people who overslept and signaled the time to move out.

It was my first overnight hike - well, since PE camp in Year 9 - and my first hike with the Adelaide Bushwalkers. I had only recently joined this hiking club, in order to experience some overnight hiking and camping out, and to meet some new people - hopefully people my own age (the cross section of ages in the hiking club Friends of the Heysen Trail is older).

Yes, there were younger people. It was good. I also enjoyed the relatively organic style in which everything was organised, being a smaller club it is not as organised as the Friends of the Heysen Trail. This is good, more of a grass-roots approach.

We were hiking in Mt Remarkable National Park, from Alligator Gorge to Mambray Creek. There were two overnight camps, and two days of hiking. With 17 hikers, we divided into two groups, one group spending Friday night camping in the north, at Longhill Camp near Alligator Gorge, and the other group camping in the south, at Mambray Creek.

I grabbed a lift with David, and Jeff and Karen. We parked our car, and in the dark hiked a few hundred metres down into the valley to our campsite. The forecast temperature was a mere four degrees, but it didn't feel that cold yet. We joined the others and set up our tents, people seemed impressed with my $70, 2.05kg hiking tent. Best value-for-money. The next morning we hiked north through Alligator Gorge, up past The Terraces and out of the gorge to The Battery. It was tough, but mostly due to the 16kg pack I was carrying. Even though I thought I had my waist belt tight, it wasn't until the following day, with my bruised shoulders, that David show me a few tricks to get it even tighter - so it would carry more load and be much more comfortable.

The views from The Battery were spectacular, much better than the views from The Bluff back on the Heysen Trail in the south. From our vantage on the spectacular escarpment, we could see to the head of Gulf St Vincent, to Port Augusta and Baxter Detention Centre, and across the gulf to Port Lowly. Wow. It was an awesome view.

We reached camp after climbing down the steady but long Fricks Track to Kingfisher Flat. We met the other group who had hiked up from Mambray Creek in the south. It was a cold night, no fires were allowed in the national park except in Mambray Creek. Unusual for a national park.

The next morning we parted ways again, hiking down to Mambray Creek via Hidden Gorge. We had swapped keys that morning, so we grabbed each others cars and rendezvous at the bakery at Stone Hut. The food and beer was to it's usual excellence (the Coopers Pale Ale was a little old though), and the staff were in their usual grumpy form (don't let that put you off - the food and atmosphere is fantastic).

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I started getting into hiking back in 2006, and have been hiking the 1200km Heysen Trail from Cape Jervis to Parachilna Gorge in South Australia. I've been hiking a couple of weekends a month each year during April to October, I expect to complete the trail in August of 2008. All of my blog entries for this are located in a dedicated Heysen Trail blog.

Meanwhile, Kate and Tim suggested we hike The Overland Track, in Tasmania, in January of 2009. The Overland Track is a six-day, 65km trek through Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair.

We've done a little preparation for this carry-all-your-stuff and camp out trek, but we need to do a lot more yet. That "don't worry - it's 2 years away" complacency has set in! So I have decided to include some of this hikes here, some I've done with Kate and Tim, and some I have done with bush walking clubs.

Now, for a few inspirational photos of The Overland Track: