Saturday, October 20, 2007

Trailblazer

I can't understand why we struggled through the last sections from Morialta, other teams did too. Oh yeah, we'd been hiking for the past 11 hours.

The Trailblazer Challenge
50km: Adelaide Oval to Mt Lofty summit


So I wouldn't say it was easy, but it certainly wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. I got no blisters, and only a very minor but manageable - thanks to Jenny's fantastic Black Diamond trekking pole - knee injury.

Likewise, other team members did well. One of our members deserves the 'best on ground' award for continuing on the course after throwing up bile after Morialta. Determined to finish, they kept up their fluids, and with some good rests along the way we all managed to complete the event together at Mt Lofty summit.

We met at the start point at Pinky Flat, near Adelaide Oval/Next Gen on the banks of the River Torrens. As Tim and I waited for the girls arrive, we got to see all the serious joggers psyche up for their events (There were 4 options available: 18km, 34km, 50km or 100km). Think ridiculously short shorts, and tubs of Vaseline being shamelessly applied. Not a pretty sight.


Myself, Tim, Coleen and Jenny at the start point beside the River Torrens

The first 18km to Athelstone follows Linear Park along the River Torrens to the hills. It was a 3 hour walk, following the bitumen pathways, so it can be hard on the feet, but we were 'in the zone' so it was all good. The free Red Bull, fruit and water top-up was a welcome sight at Athelstone. John, Jenny's partner, soon turned up with an esky and made us some fresh rolls - yummo.

It was about 10.45am when we left, hiking up what I consider the hardest hill on the trail. Or what I did consider the hardest, little did I know, our training preparation had led us the wrong way through Morialta, so the Trailblazer challenge still had a surprise in store for us. Regardless, this hill out from Athelstone, Ambers Gully, is steep and hot in the full sun.

By 2pm, when we reached Morialta, officially the 34km mark, it was quite hot. Ok, 33 degrees might not normally be considered hot, but it certainly makes hiking up hills in the sun a lot tougher. There's good reason why the hiking season is considered to be from April to October and not over summer. We ate some lunch in the hot shade and saw plenty of 50km participants withdrawing, the heat or the hike proving too much for them. Leaving Morialta we soon came across the little surprise that was awaiting us. An incredibly steep hill that I have little or no recollection of ever seeing before. It was also here where things took a turn for the worse for one team member.

Deciding to stick true to the course, we set up the next ridiculous hill, a recent re-route due to flood damage along the creek between the second and third falls. We saw plenty of participants head off along the closed, but considerably easier, section.

Hiking out of Morialta, we came across a ute with some eskies in the back - a support crew waiting for their team. Oh, how could they? What I would have done for a nice cold drink! Thankfully, one of them offered us some ice - they must have seen our expressions I'm sure. I'm no ice eater normally, but this was just heaven munching on ice.

Hiking through Horsnell Gully was a relief, the hot sun was now behind trees and the cool tracks and pathways were a welcome relief. The koalas were up to their normal antics, I love this place. Hiking out of Horsnell Gully, our last major hill aside from the last 650m to Mt Lofty summit, we were treated to some spectacular colours from the setting sun, the orange light lighting the pine trees in a magical way.

John was a very welcome sight at Checkpoint 3, at a radar station on a dirt road near Summertown. Tim and I got stuck into our freshly made wraps and a nice cold Pepsi Max, I'm sure I've never eaten a better wrap before. In a moment of sadism, the event organisers had chosen to place the checkpoint tent at the top of the hill where the radar tower stood, rather than down beside the roadway. We checked in and asked about medical help for our worsening bile-throwing-up member. No help or advise was available, but whilst we sat and ate we asked everyone who walked by if they were a paramedic. A seemingly random question, but the volunteers had told us a paramedic was hiking in a team of 3, apparently coming along soon. When he came, he admitted he didn't really care, he was too exhausted, but if one didn't actually feel too sick, they could continue, it was only the body saying it wasn't coping with the heat. It was only 5-7km left to the end, and it was dark now, so with no persuasion our sick member decided to continue.

Head torches on, we hiked through the cool of the forests of Cleland, along the winding fire tracks that follow the contours of the hill. Easy hiking, and with a bright moon overhead much more pleasurable with the head torch turned off.

Just after 9pm we stumbled out of the bush onto the paved area that the white obelisk and cafe sit on at the summit of Mt Lofty.



Saturday, October 13, 2007

Trailblazer Training

33.3km. The most I have ever hiked in a single day. Not bad, in preparation for next weekend's 50km Trailblazer hike.

Ambers Gully, Athelstone, to Mt Lofty Summit


Just one week until the big event, the 50km Trailblazer hike (a fundraising challenge). We haven't done a lot of specific training for it, so Tim and I thought we would make this one last opportunity. I've been doing lots of regular hiking, and been swimming twice a week, but today we set out to do the entire 33.3km section in the hills. Next weekend, we do the same, but start 18km earlier at from Adelaide Oval, following Linear Park to Athelstone, before doing what we hiked today.

Pretty stoked that we saw an echidna in the Montacute Conservation Park, it was wandering along until it saw us and did the whole camo thing.


No, I didn't take this detail-photo of an echidna. No photos today.

It was tough, but we set a mean pace from the start. We had set out at 12 noon, we knew it was likely we would finish in the dark, but Tim had a prior engagement. I think I can safely say I have never hiked this fast before, after 4 hours of hiking we had only spent 21 minutes of that time resting. After 40 minutes for lunch at Norton Summit, yes it was 4pm by then, we had completed 19 of the anticipated 32km. Neither of us really felt any sorer after this point, although my knee started giving me grief in the last 5km (the next day though... woah, pretty sore hey).

We stayed true to the Trailblazer course, although because I had forgotten to bring the maps we strayed a little in Morialta. At Deep View Lookout we should have gone down to the carpark, then along the valley floor, whilst instead we maintained the same altitude and skirted around the edge. We didn't avoid the killer hill neither of us expected though, presumably a necessary re-route to avoid the bridge-less closed section of the Yurrebilla Trail.

Only during the last few kilometres did we put our head torches on, and the floodlit obelisk at the summit of Mt Lofty kept us going to the end. A nice look at the view was brought to a premature end as we started getting pretty cold. Wedges with a nice serving of sour cream and sweet chilli sauce worked a treat though in the cafe while we waited for Kate to come collect us.



Stats:
  • Distance: 33.3km
  • Start time: 12noon
  • End time: 7.20pm
  • Moving duration: 6h 10m
  • Stationary duration: 1h 09m
  • Moving average: 5.5km/h
  • Overall average: 4.5km/h

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Shiraz Trail

I thought I would finish off the Coast to Vines Rail Trail, so on this sunny afternoon I set out from Pedlar Creek riding to McLaren Vale, and then onwards along the Shiraz Trail to Willunga.

McLaren Vale to Willunga


Will return to the Mawson Trail one day soon.

Tim, Kate and myself rode part of the Coast to Vines Rail Trail from Hallett Cove to McLaren Vale back on March 12 this year, but we were too exhausted to continue onwards the end of the trail at Willunga. Today, I started from Pedlar Creek, just east of Seaford. I had cycled this bit before, but from this point on the trail south it is definately country and not suburbs, so it was worth doing this short bit again.

Lots of vineyards with views to the hills beyond. Like my photographic expedition down to Second Valley yesterday, lots of hills coloured purple by Salvation Jane (also called Patterson's Curse). I was glad this time to be able to get a good photo.



I found a dismantled old railway crane at the end of the trail, at the former Willunga Railway Station. Pity it has been cast aside, too important to dump but too unimportant to be erected elsewhere. Perhaps later it will be.



Had lunch at a bakery in Willunga, yummo. From McLaren Vale to Willunga is pretty much a steady slight incline, so returning back to McLaren Vale was easy.



View photos as full screen slideshow



Stats:
  • Distance: 13km (27km return)
  • Moving duration: 54m (40m on return trip)
  • Moving average: 14.7km/h (19km/h on return trip)
  • Max speed: 35.9km/h (36.9km/h on return trip)


Some stuff about the trails:

Coast to Vines Rail Trail - Pathway to Discovery

The Coast to Vines Rail Trail offers a spectacular journey through Adelaide's south. Winding along the historic, former railway corridor between Marino Rocks and Willunga, the Trail is rich in beauty and history.

From the magnificent cliffs of Hallett Cove to the natural beauty of the Onkaparinga River Recreation Park, the Trail offers scenic coast to hinterland views.

Visit the heritage towns of Old Reynella and Old Noarlunga along the way and take in spectacular vineyard vistas as you travel through the renowned McLaren Vale wine district.

The Coast to Vines Rail Trail: A journey through time and place.


The Shiraz Trail

The Shiraz Trail links the historic towns of McLaren Vale and Willunga, situated at the base of the stunning Willunga Hills in the McLaren Vale wine region.

The last (or first!) section of the Coast to Vines Rail Trail, the Shiraz Trail offers a gateway to the many riches the region has to offer, from quality wines and local fare to fascinating heritage.


View maps that appear at the trail head.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Should have packed the chocolate

A trial hike with our overnight packs - a first for Kate & Tim - in Innes National Park. Should have packed the chocolate, and another book.

A day hike on the Thomson-Pfitzner Plaster Trail Hike
and an overnight hike along the Gym Beach Hike


We left our car and big tent set up at Browns Beach, setting out on the 6-hour return (or 4-hour return depending on the sign or publication you read - it's 4-hours according to the park ranger) hike from near Browns Beach to Gym Beach. Only 5.5km, it took us 1h 06m to get there, and the following day 1h 09m to return. Our hike was 6km each way, a bloody easy hike, but fair go it was Kate & Tim's first pack hike. We could have hiked back along coast, over two headlands and Browns Beach, but we returned the way we came (hiking on sand with full packs can be hard!).



It wasn't particularly interesting, but then not much of Innes National Park is really that interesting for hiking. If you like bird-watching - perfect, that's what the park was created for, some bird that was believed extinct and discovered here in the 1960's. The hike was hot, with little shade, but what shade there was felt very cool. Gym Beach campsite was good, we set up camp on a site with close beach access, and near the nice non-smelly modern toilets with a rainwater tank. Better than our tent site was at Browns Beach - smelly, no STINKY, toilet, no rainwater, no shade, no separate tent sites, no close beach access, and no tree branch intent on scratching us all at least twice. Great if you love fishing though... wish I did :-/ No shade at Gyms Beach Campsite either, and a park table and bench like those in Lincoln NP wouldn't go astray, especially for hikers, but it was much better. Good beach, we sat upon some rocks as the waves crashed around us, watching the sun set and reading our books. Good fishing, and probably swimming and body surfing too. Funny how everyone empties off the beach for sunset, the best part of the beach day I think.





Should have packed chocolate, and another book. I finished reading my book too early... and Tim and Kate hadn't finished theirs yet, so we couldn't swap. After tea, Tim and I tried to find the Southern Cross in the night sky. I found the most convincing cross, then used the method in the "Dangerous Book for Boys" to find south... except it pointed in the direction where the sun set. Tim, using the sunset as a guide, found south, then determined to find the best cross to fit his 'south'. I don't think either of us actually found the 'Southern Cross'... but south we found.



On the Saturday - we arrived Friday night - we hiked the Thomson-Pfitzner Plaster Trail from Stenhouse Bay to Inneston, following an old railway alignment which transported gypsum from the mine at Inneston to the jetty at Stenhouse Bay. Not greatly interesting either. Followed a spur trail on the way there, which follows the contours of the land, this railway alignment being built later for steam locomotives (rather than the earlier horse-drawn trains). Inneston, a town built in the 1930's and abandoned in the 1970's, is little but ruins and some restored cottages, but quite interesting. Kate and Tim hadn't been to Innes before, but I had been here a couple of times before.



Also stopped by Ethel Beach, where the 1904 Ethel is wrecked on the beach, and the 1920's wreck of the Ferret lies off-shore.



A good weekend, we extended the long weekend by an extra day. It was Kate & Tim's first trip to Innes NP, my third I think. Pretty cool place, good fishing, surfing, camping and swimming. Swam at the rock pool on Shell Beach - was pretty cold. We were first there at high tide on Sunday, but watching the waves crash it we thought it might be too dangerous, as the waves sucked the water through the length of the rock pool. We returned Monday morning, having established when low tide was from my GPS unit's "Best fishing times" guide. We swam, well, Tim did, I just jumped in and got out I think - it was pretty cold. Afterwards, as we sat on the rocks in the sun, a huge voilent freak wave crashed through, much larger than the waves of the previous high-tide day, and washed right across the area we were sitting. Glad we weren't swimming at that time!



Missed a good hike opp though, Anne reckoned this was the pick of the Innes hikes - Royston Head. Saw a sign, planned to get there, but wasn't keen to go on a hike straight after our only weekend shower.

Royston Head Walk
4 km return, 2 hr return
Spectacular views of the rugged peninsula coast and blue ocean. There is a fantastic lookout point from the cliffs at Royston Head with a tranquil beach below.


Enjoyed the benefits of a long term investment. I think I was here last about 4 years ago, we had paid for shower tokens for Pondalowie, but some of them just gave us cold water. This time though, I don't know what we were thinking, we skipped the token purchase opting for cold shower by driving down to the Pondolowie campsite. After enduring a minute of cold water though, it was hot as, and without using a token! Yay!



View photos as full screen slideshow



Stats (Gyms Beach hike):
  • Hike distance: 6.0km
  • Trail distance: 5.5km
  • Moving duration: 1h 09m
  • Moving average: 5.2km/h