Saturday, 1 February 2014

Looking ahead ... and January activities

Having mused about the challenge to set myself for 2014 for a day or so I have tossed up a couple of objectives. Both have an element of fun so I'll do a suck it and see for January before finally deciding if either or both are goers.

In terms of straight walking I thought that a target of an average of 11km per day across the year should be achievable as long as the body doesn't decide to crack up! This includes hike, too.

The other objective is a mountain climbing one. On average to climb at least one mountain a week. To add interest, any one mountain can only feature once in any given calendar month. I've already done Mt Taylor for January. There are so many easily accessible mountains in this area that it should not prove overly challenging. I'll see how I go with this one.

The weather has been quite warm with temperatures edging up into the 30s. It is interesting to note the complete lack of activity of the non humans in the heat of the day. The kangaroos, sensible creatures, generally find a shady spot which picks up any breeze and laze away the hot part of the day. When it is hot you don't see many roos out and about and the horse paddock adjacent to the Mt Taylor reserve has been devoid of hoppy creatures during the heat of the day. Usually the paddock is a haven for roos but not in the heat as there is no shade.

A kangaroo in the shade of a tree

The horse paddock which normally has loads of kangaroos ... not a roo to be seen

The small birds are once again in evidence although they too are generally not out and about in the heat.

We finally got some welcome rain. The brilliant green of the countryside we saw as we flew from Sydney to Canberra on our return from England in mid October had vanished by Christmas and the land was looking very parched when we flew down to Melbourne on our way to Hobart. The January rain has been very patchy but welcome nonetheless.

Walking down to Tuggeranong on the afternoon of 24 January in a drizzle I came across a tortoise. I can't recall the last time I have seen one of these creatures and definitely not locally.

During January, Trevor and I went to Tasmania for a weeks walking and a few days in Hobart. I've detailed the walk day by day in my blog. A significant part of Tasmania is World Heritage listed or in either a national or state park. There are some wonderful pristine wilderness areas and the fight to preserve these is ongoing. There are threats to log areas that have not been attacked on a large scale before and this sort of activity will damage the environment for decades, if not centuries, to come. Some of the trees are hundreds, if not more than a thousand, years old.

Trevor up the top of Mt Wellington

Looking down on Hobart and the Derwent River from the top of Mt Wellington

Boardwalks have been installed in heavily visited areas of the parks to preserve the fragile environment. The Cradle Mountain area, these have significant numbers of visitors each year, have extensive boardwalks which have a twofold purpose: making it easier to walk through the park and ensuring that the impact on the fragile environment is kept to a minimum as most walkers do the right thing and follow the tracks and do not wander hither and zither across the park.

Having done Auswalk's Tasmanian Wilderness Hiker this month I have begun looking at my next hiking challenge. Larapinta looks tempting. It is one of the iconic Australian walks and features in many of the lists of the 10 best walks in the world. World Expeditions classic Larapinta trek looks good.

Having seen a number of snake when I have been out walking, including a large brown on the Stanhope Highway back in October and the tiger snake at Cradle Mountain, I still had not managed to get any photos of one of these wriggly creatures. I intended to get a photo the next time I came across one. On 25 January I was doing a circuit of Mt. Taylor with a climb up to the trig point and down. I went up the Richmond Fellowship Track and was coming down the Mannheim track when I spotted a young brown snake coming across the track just ahead of me. While I had my camera it was in my pack. By the time I got it out the snake was disappearing into the vegetation beside the track. I wasn't going to take a close look in there so missed another photo opportunity.

The other odd thing that happened on the 25th was the behaviour of the kangaroos. I was walking in the afternoon and it was reasonably warm. Kangaroos generally take to the shade in the heat of the day and I had not seen any until I had a group of three suddenly taking off in fright. I'm not sure who was the more surprised - me seeing the fleeing roos or the roos seeing me. Normally the roos pay little attention to walkers who are on the tracks so I'm not sure why this group got spooked. Just to add to the oddity, about a km later a lone kangaroo, unusual in itself, took off as I approached near where it had been standing. Once again, unusual behaviour. I'm not sure why the roos behaved in this way on that particular day.

The small birds are making a return or perhaps it is that they are no longer tied to their nests but are now out and about with their young. In the latter part of January the Superb Fairy Wrens were popping up quite frequently. What a pity that they are both small and flighty making them hard to capture in a photo.

I climbed Mt Arawang on Australia Day. This is not a very tall mountain and one I usually walk around rather than up. It does have good views from its trig point, through.

I came across these wallabies near the top of Mt Arawang
Looking down over Weston Creek towards Black Mountain from Mt Arawang
Looking towards Woden from Mt Arawang

Looking across the Tuggeranong Valley from Mt Arawang

The western ranges as seen from Mt Arawang
 A number of the tracks on Mt Arawang pass through long grass and are quite narrow. I am cautious about walking those types of tracks when snakes are obviously out and about so don't normally climb this pimple during the warmer months.

January had been pretty dry and this was clearly evident in the only dam inside the Mt Taylor Nature Reserve. During January it completely dried up.

Monday the 27th was a public holiday. Trevor and I lunched at the National Library. Their food is always interesting and well presented. Even the 15% surcharge for the public holiday didn't put me off.

After lunch Trevor headed off home and I walked. The route I took was along the southern side of Lake Burley Griffin before tracking through Yarralumla and then alongside Yarra Glen past the Woden town centre and on Mt Taylor taking an anti-clockwise circuit. All up the walk was 16.72km. It is possible to stop at a number of shopping centres with just a short diversion (Yarralumla, Curtin, Lyons and Woden Plaza) and no diversion much to speak of to reach Chifley and Kambah Village. I filled my water bottle up at Chifley. There is a tap in the local BBQ area. The day was quite warm so the additional water was most welcome. The only wildlife encountered were large birds and humans. A significant number of people were out on bikes with the odd person on foot. There were quite a few groups picnicing beside the lake. Some even had gone to the trouble to cover tables with tablecloths. Very posh.

January has been a very warm month. I'm sure that there have been hotter months over the past 40 odd years. I can remember one summer when we watched a series of Black Adder which came on late at night, 11:30pm if my memory serves me correctly, simply because it was so hot that we couldn't sleep. This was our introduction to Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) and Tony Robinson (Time Team) amongst other things.

With temperature well over the 30 mark walking has been decidedly hot.

A kookaburra spotted sitting on a climbing peg on pole in Mt Taylor Nature Reserve

On Wednesdays I mostly walk the almost 6km to the gym for my 9am PT session. On the 29th I set out in lovely, balmy conditions. By the time I reached the gym it was starting to heat up. The walk home was definitely hot!

Trevor and I lunched at Cooleman Court and I walked home along the Stanhope Highway in the heat of the early afternoon. Large birds were out and about but there was not much other activity. I did come across a lizard taking advantage of a post pointing out the features on Cooleman Ridge. I arrived home and spent the next hour dripping!

A lizard hiding on a pole along the Stanhope Highway

To fit in a mountain climb for the week I planned to climb Mt Ainslie which sits behind the Australian War Memorial. I figured that I could probably do the climb on Thursday after I had completed my session at the Family History Centre and any swimming stuff that I needed to do before the weekend. The only issue was the temperature. The heat was quite fierce in the high 30s, nudging 40, but how difficult could it be? By the time I reached the top I was feeling pretty awful. A stop in some shade just before the summit did help but it was still a tough climb. I'm glad that our guides decided that the Mt Roland climb was too risky as much of the route was completely exposed. Even with partial shade on Mt Ainslie the climb was tough.

There are some wonderful views from Mt Ainslie. Here is just one ... looking down across the city and lake.

View from Mt Ainslie across the city
The final day of the month was another scorcher. The temperature recorded against my walk home from Mawson in the mid afternoon was 38 degrees. In the morning Trevor and I checked out the blackberries on Narabundah Hill. The berries are quite small this year due to the very dry conditions and they are still at least a week off ripe although there is a scattering of ripe berries already but not worth the time picking just yet.

Stats for the month:
364.19kms at an average of 11.75km per day
Elevation gain: 8435m. Daily average: 272m
Steps: 718,297. Daily average: 23171

And, yes, I did climb 5 separate mountains during the month.

1 comment:

  1. I think it was the second warmest January on record for Canberra (last year was warmer on average but this year had more over 37 degree days). So you did well to do so much walking.