Friday, 12 July 2013

Oh July ... mid winter ... trialling the Coast to Coast walk

July has arrived. It can be a pleasant month as long as you are prepared to rug up before venturing out. The weather can be fine and sunny throughout the day with cold, frosty starts. It can be unpleasant if it rains or the fog rolls in and stays for most of the day.

Monday 1 July

It was a cool start this morning with persistent cloud. The afternoon was fine and sunny. By 4 o'clock it was quite chilly in the shade but pleasant in the sun.

I left home just before 4 o'clock and walked the 6kms to the gym to work on my shoulders, arms and back. The legs have been getting a good workout with all of the walking. The rest of the body needs to get some balancing exercise.

There was a surprising number of people out and about on both the walk to and from the gym. Gosh I wish they would fix the lights on the path between the southern look of O'Halloran Circuit and home. When there is cloud cover it is too dark to walk without a torch. There are lights all the way along the path but none of them is currently operating.

After dinner I headed out and did the Marconi Crescent walk. The night was quite cool and fog was already forming. Still, suitably clothed, it was a pleasant stroll.

Distance today: 17.12km with a mere 111m of elevation gain.

Tuesday 2 July 

I had a mad though this morning taht I should trial the Coast to Coast walk in terms of distance and elevation gained. Rather than start on a Tuesday I figured that I could backdate it to Sunday. After all we will be starting our walking on a Sunday when we do the real thing.

So, Sunday was day 1. C2C is 22.4km and an elevation gain of 685m. I did 27.49km so was ahead on distance but short on elevation gain as I only did 491m.

On Monday, C2C is again 22.4km with an elevation gain of 530m. I did 17.12km but a mere 111m elevation gain. Oops, I'm really behind on the climbing. Still, I wasn't thinking about comparative hikes until today.

Day 3 of the C2C is a mere 16km and 530m elevation gain. I finally got ahead of the game with 23.35km and 554m gain.

So, what did I do? I walked home from Woden with a circuit and a half of Mt Taylor and a climb up and down the Richmond Fellowship Track. All up this was over 17km. The day was foggy and it remained that way all day. The kangaroos were all on the lower slopes which seems to suggest that they thought the fog would clear from there first so they were probably disappointed. After dinner I did the Marconi Crescent walk with a km extension.

Wednesday 3 July

Another foggy day. It was very cold as I left to walk to the gym and a definite incentive to walk fast. I think it was the fastest time that I have had walking between home and the gym. After my PT session I did some shopping before heading home and made a very fast return time. The sun was trying to break through and finally did although the air temperature remained quite cool.

Just on midday I drove, yes ... in the car, to the Mannheim Street entrance to the Mt Taylor nature park. The target was 3 ascents and I was fitting this in before Astrid arrived for her regular Wednesday afternoon with us. All up this took 6.58km with 488m of elevation gain. Not bad for 2 hours of haring up and down the mountain.

I did go down to the Village with Astrid during teh afternoon although that adds less than 2kms to the tally. After dinner I did the Marconi Crescent walk which at least added 4km and 38m to the days effort.

C2C on day 4 is 12.8km and 505m gain. My effort was 25.59km and 616m gain. I'm well ahead on distance (20.0km to be exact), for the moment, but still 478m behind on elevation gain. I now understand how Antony felt last year when he was trying to ride the same elevation gain as the Tour de France competitors. Challenged!

Thursday 4 July

Today was always going to be a challenge. Firstly, there was Astrid's swimming lesson ... a must see event. Then, my session at the family history centre followed going to the Swimming ACT office to check on mail and email. Finally, I had a phone hook up and needed to check that I would be able to connect this time as last time I failed miserably. So, all in all, a problematic day for walking.

I had thought about listing the day as a rest day but then thought "nah!" so once I thought that I would be able to connect in to the phone hookup I set off to do a quick walk up Mt Taylor. It was getting dark as I made the climb up the Colquhoun track and was it was difficult to see as I came down the Mannheim Street path - the one I deemed the safest in the poor light. Yes, I could have used my torch but then I would have had to stop and get it out of my backpack! I did manage 7.7km with an elevation gain of 254m.

Friday 5 July

It was another fairly cool morning. Overnight the wind had rattled the doors it woke me up early. I was hoping to get in 32km today and 1000m of elevation gain so an early start was for the best.

The first walk of the day was to Mt Taylor. Where else, you might ask? I headed up the Colhuoun track to the trig point. As I trudged up the track I saw a movement to my side and was surprised to find a kangaroo standing right next to the track. He was probably as surprised as I was but didn't hop away. He just watched me trudge past. I took the Mannheim Street track down and then went along the southern side along the Sulwood fire trail, leaving the park by the Colquhoun Street gate and headed for the Village as I needed to get a script filled. While waiting for the script I indulged in a coffee and coissant.
At 11 o'clock I headed out again. This time I tracked along the southern side of Mt Taylor and went up the Mannheim Street track then down the Richmond Fellowship track before heading down to Woden to meet Trevor for lunch. The wind was quite fickle. Sections of the mountain were sheltered and pleasant. Other areas were like a wind tunnel.

By the time I got to Woden I had clocked up about half of my target distance and climbing.

With lunch out of the way it was back to Mt Taylor. The climb up from Woden to the ring track around the mountain is over 100m so a useful addition to the climbing tally. From the bottom of the Richmond Fellowship track to Woden and back is a little over 6km so a good distance addition, too.

The climb up the Richmond Fellowship track had its moments. In some places it was calm and sunny while others were racked by very strong winds. once up the top I sought shelter amongst some rocks and had a short rest before heading down my Colquhoun track. I only went as far as the Western Powerlines fire trail before heading back up the mountain.This fourth ascent didn't seem as tough as the other ones. Perhaps I had completely turned off and could no longer feel the exertion. My final descent was along the Mannheim Street track and then along the Sulwood fire trail and home.

Adding up the various bits of walking I had done 30.25km with an elevation gain of 1030m. Bother! I was short on distance. That was easy to rectify. A stroll up Marconi Crescent with an extension around the ovals did the trick.

The final distance for the day was a whopping 35.32km with an elevation gain of 1076m. This exceeds any of the day tallies for the Coast to Coast as the longest days are a mere 32km and the greatest elevation gain is supposedly 970m and, yes, they do happen on the same day!

I actually felt pretty good at the end of the day. Hopefully I still feel OK in the morning.

Having done such a big day I can now feel confident that I am ready for the Coast to Coast. Time will tell whether that confidence was well placed.

Saturday 6 July

I had tried to contact Michael yesterday to follow up on our discussion earlier in the week about doing a hike. He had not returned my call. I finally got on to him this morning and he suggested meeting at A Bite To Eat in Chifley for lunch. He was doing his laundry so wouldn't be free until noon. I duly booked a table for three, including Trevor in the lunch party.

It was almost 10:40 when I left home to walk to Chifley via the summit of Mt Taylor. There were times when I doubted that I would make it on time. The legs were a bit tired after yesterday's effort and I was in my hiking boots and carrying a fully laden day pack. I reached Chifley just before the appointed hour. Trevor was already there having also walked to Chifley. He had done the Mt Taylor northern base walk. Michael arrived a little after 12.

After lunch Michael and I farewelled Trevor and return to his unit to hang out his final load of washing before heading out to Casuarina Sands. We packed in the furtherest away carpark which extended our walk a little.  The walk we were tackling was alongside the Murrumbidgee River heading south towards Kambah Pool for about 7lms before returning to Casuarina Sands. It is possible to do the full walk through to Kambah Pool and return but I was quite content to do the shorter one given the big day I had had on Friday.

The river has a significant number of spots where rocks influence the water flow and in some places the rocks result in cascades. The western side of the river, we were walking along the eastern side, is bounded by the steep slopes of the Bullen Range. Our side was variously level and steep.

Here are some photos that I took.

Yes, there is water down there rippling over rocks

This is a relatively new bridge which crosses one of the creeks that flows into the Murrumbidgee
The bridge is an odd shape as the rocks along the creek have been used to support the structure
Trees which have fallen or been washed down the river litter the rocks
A view of the river. It sweeps along the base of the tree covered range
The terrain on the far bank is steep. Note the dead trees on our side of the river
This rocky outcrop provides a lovely place to stop and enjoy the views along the river

Michael enjoying a break on the top of the outcrop shown above
If i don't move the humans won't see me or so the wallaby thought
Another view along the river
Water bubbling over a rocky section
The sun breaking through the clouds and reflecting on the water

We managed to overshoot the Lookout that was to be our turnaround point. This section of the track had no signs at all as the distance posts are in the process of being replaced. I was pleased to finally get back to a vantage point above the river where we stopped for a break. My cup of tea was most welcome.

On the way out we had come across quite  a lot of wildlife. Wombats were obviously still asleep in their numerous burrows as none were out out and about. We did see a pair of wallabies. One remained quite still probably assuming that we could not see him. He was hard to spot amongst the bushes on the way out but was standing clear of bushes on our return. Yes, we could see him!

All up today I walked 23.08km and climbed 660m and I am in front on both measures compared with what would be completed thus far on the Coast to Coast.

Sunday 7 July

I didn't feel too bad this morning when I got up. I had had a restless night - not sure whether it was aches and pains or something less.

The looked bright and, although cool early, promised to be pleasant. The wind of the previous couple of days had finally abated, too, so it was much more pleasant being out and about.

I headed off just after 10:30am, called at the Village to grab a coffee and then on to Mt Taylor. After entering teh park at the Colquhoun Street gate I walked around the south side of the mountain and then climbed the Mannheim Street track. There were a lot of people on the track today. Perhaps this is normal for a Sunday morning. I descended along the same track and continued my walking around the base in an anti-clockwise direction.

Leaving the park at the Macfarlane Street exit I proceeded to Woden for lunch and a pedicure.

Returning to Mt Taylor I headed around to the Richmond Fellowship track and climbed up to the trig point and down again and proceeded in a clockwise direction around the mountain until I reach the Macfarlane exit track at which point I turned around and headed for home.

All up I walked 24.58km and climbed 723m.

The weekly tally looks impressive. I have walked 156.62km and had an elevation gain of 3994m and I am ahead in my Coast to Coast comparison and only have 5 days to go.

The other figure that I have been tracking is my step count. This past week I have done a whopping 239,450 steps. This is the greatest number of steps that I have recorded since I started tracking my steps back in July 2011 when my aim was to get to an average of 10,000 steps a day.

Monday 8 July

The day started with a walk to the Tuggeranong town centre to catch up with a friend who had just got back from an extended trip to Europe. I have followed Sue and Phil's progress through their blog but it was still good to get first hand impressions.

After returning home I did some swimming stuff before Trevor and I went to Woden for lunch.

Today my aim was to walk at least 27km and rack up 500m in elevation gain. When we do the Coast to Coast this section will go from Reeth through Richmond and on to Bolton on Swale, a distance of 17 miles (27.2km). The height gain for the day is 400m. During the mornings excursion I had managed to complete 12kms. After lunch I headed from Woden to Mt Taylor, threw in two climbs to the trig points and headed home along the southern side of the park. All up this came to 12.47km with 465m of climb. Added to my morning's effort I had already exceeded my climbing and was close to the target distance. Adding a walk up Marconi Crescent with a diversion through the ovals on the return leg brought my totals for the day to 29.22km and 592m elevation gain.

Somehow the rest of the week doesn't look quite so daunting now that I am nicely ahead of the running tallies. Even so, I will be pleased when I reach the final figures for the Coast to Coast.

Tuesday 9 July

Around 10:45am I headed off for a circuit of Mt Taylor with a climb. I had left Trevor a note to say that I would be back around 12:30 and this seriously limited what I could do. In the end I entered the park through the Colqhuoun Street gate, walked anti-clockwise, climbed to the summit up the Richmond Fellowship Track, down my western side track and home, arriving shortly after 12:30.

After lunching at Cooleman Court I walked home along the Stanhope Highway and to finish the day I did a circuit from home around Lake Tuggeranong.

Distance for the day: 28.27km. Elevation gain: 515m

Wednesday 10 July

Wednesdays always have their challenges. Firstly there is my PT session and generally Astrid comes over on Wednesday afternoons. This week was no exception. Today I was attempting to do 32km. I was not concerned about the elevation gain as I was well ahead of what was required. So, I ended up doing a heap of walks between home and Tuggeranong. Firstly, there and back with PT in the middle. Lunch at Brother's Oven with a walk home. Back to Tugg for dinner and a walk home. I'm sure that there would be a heap of people who would be horrified at just how many kms I have done after dark on paths that can be a little isolated. Actually I have never felt threatened and have not had to call on Puddles (my 'dog') for protection.

Distance for the day: 32.95km. Elevation gain: 229m

Thursday 11 July

Almost there. Over the last two days I only need to do 31km and a mere 49m of elevation gain. After yesterday that should be easy but, like many things, that is not always the case.

When I got home from by session at the Family History Centre I set out for Mt Taylor. I didn't need to do any of the climbs to the top as the gains just getting there would be enough to finish off the elevation gain component. Going around the base track twice, the second time in the gloom, gave me a distance of 15.28km and an elevation gain of 293m.

Friday 12 July

After all the walking and climbing over the past 12 days I was feeling a little lethargic. With only a short distance to walk I was in no hurry to set out. In the end I decided that having lunch over at the Arboretum and walking home from there would work.

Trevor and I were surprised by just how many people were at the Arboretum. Yes, it is school holidays but many of the people were little ones. Definitely pre preschool. After lunch we visited the bonsai exhibition before I set off.

In theory it should have been a straightforward walk. The Bicentennial National Trail runs through the Arboretum and I thought that it should have been easy to see. Not the case at all. I eventually found a yellow post with the BNT symbol attached. Good. But where was the next post? After a bit of zigzagging I eventually found the next post. There was no visible track. It was just a matter of following the direction indicated on the last post and keeping an eye out for the next one. I eventually arrived at the boundary and not a post to be seen even thought there were two possible roads to take through the pine forest that confronted me. The only problem with the pine forest was that I figured that I was tracking too far west. At the rate I was going I would end up down at the Murrumbidgee! When I came across the next easterly tracking road I took it and eventually worked my way to a crossing on the Molongo River. Just beyond the crossing was a large sign across the road stating "Construction Site - Keep Out". Now what? Going cross country I eventually reached the Cotter Road and from there it was fairly straightforward.

By the time I reached home I had walked 15.65km with an elevation gain of 296m.

In the 13 days I have walked precisely 305.6km ... the calculated distance for the Coast to Coast. With an elevation gain of 6410m I ended up 540m over what was needed.

Would I do this all again? Well, I am going to when we do the Coast to Coast proper.

I figured that I would publish this post as it is the conclusion of my C2C trial.


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