Saturday, 1 March 2014

February wanders ...and the rain finally came

The early part of the month was hot. The countryside was very dry. The roos started to disappear as surface water became scarce. Horses appeared in the horse paddock just east of the Taylor Nature Reserve and the roos left them to it.

The larger birds were in evidence: magpies, currawongs, crows, koels, cockatoos, peewees, various parrots and galahs. Down at Lake Tuggeranong there was a black swan family, a pelican, a pair of ibis along with the various duck like creatures, terns and swamp hens. Small birds were sometimes in evidence. A colony of thornbills were seen near the Kambah #1 oval while willy wagtails and varigated wrens appeared from time to time.

Swan family on Lake Tuggeranong

In the middle of the month the rain came.On Saturday 15th I managed to get caught in the rain while doing a Mt Taylor walk. It was OK as I was wearing my rain jacket so the top was dry (except for the sweat!) but the bottom half was decidedly damp.

The next day I climbed Mt Ainslie and managed to get my timing spot on. I arrived after a downpour and got back to my car before another one.

From the top of Mt Ainslie with much of the city and ranges obscured by haze
The next couple of days were fine.

On Wednesday mornings I have a PT session and I generally walk the 6kms to the gym and then back. From home to the Tuggeranong Town Centre is fairly flat. The rises and falls depend on the route selected and are really quite small. As I have been aiming at averaging 200m elevation climb per day I need to throw in additional climbing to compliment the flat walk. I had some business to do in Woden so decided to take the bus in to Woden and walk home via Mt Taylor. I failed to check the weather forecast and did not notice dark clouds building up in the sky. I happily went off without a raincoat or umbrella.

The first storm struck while I was in the shopping centre. The sound of the rain pounding on the roof was hard to ignore.

The rain stopped. While there was still grey cloud hovering overhead it did not seem to be that threatening so I began my walk home. By the time I was walking along the path which runs between Chifley and Hindmarsh Drive it started to spit. I was not too concerned. I figured that I could stop at Chifley shops if the rain increased which it did very rapidly. The shops were too far away so I opted to head for the Hindmarsh Drive underpass as it was the closest available shelter. This was fine until the storm water drains started flooding and water began gushing through the underpass. When the water reached ankle deep I decided that it was probably time to leave my "shelter".

As I headed towards the Chifley shops I could not help but admire the lake that had formed across most of the open area which runs up the spine of the suburb. Water was pouring down the path. The storm water drains were not coping with the deluge and I observed at least one manhole cover being bounced up by the surging water. When I got up to the playground and BBQ area adjacent to the Chifley shops there was white water and waterfalls.

Chifley's lake

This is normally a path ... but here a river
 Taking shelter in the supermarket, it was still raining although it had eased off, I grabbed a coffee and some plastic bags. Both were welcome. The coffee to warm me up. The plastic bags to keep the content of my backpack dry.

On leaving Chifley shops I figured that the best route home was to take the sealed path across to the Tuggeranong Parkway, go through the underpass and then use the path on the western side of the Parkway to get back to Kambah.

The theory was fine.

There were quite a few kangaroos in evidence standing around the the meadows that the path passed or meandered through. All of the roos looked rather damp and a bit miserable. I probably look a darn side worse!Most just watched me trudge past.

All went well until I reached the Drakeford Drive underpass. The path into the underpass goes over a storm water drain. No problems here as the water level in the drain was well below the path. There was a build up of water in the underpass though. How deep could it be? When it reached the mid thigh level and I had no idea how much deeper it was going to get before I climbed out I decided to call it quits and go back.

Leaving the underpass I headed up Waldock Street towards the Mt Taylor Nature Reserve. I entered the reserve through a gate a short distance below the carpark. The track took me down to my normally dry creek. Today it was running a treat. After paddling through the ankle deep water I passed more kangaroos. I'm sure they were wondering what the mad human was doing. They simply stood there and watched me drip by.

Water had finally run into the dam. While it could still do with more, at least it was no longer dry.

The dam in the Mt Taylor nature reserve a few days after the downpour
 The walk through the reserve was uneventful.

On leaving the reserve I headed across Colquhoun Street and down to towards the Sulwood Drive underpass. For some reason the drains in this particular underpass get clogged even with light rain. Today they were not only clogged but the underpass had collected quite an amount of water and other debris. At least I had a fair idea of the slopes leading into and out of this underpass and I waded in. Once again, the water level reached mid thigh before the path began to rise and the water level fall. The last half of the passage was through leaves, bark, twigs and other assorted debris.

While I encountered other pools of water on the final couple of kms home the worst was definitely behind me.

All that practice dealing with wet feet in England really came to the fore. The day brought back memories of the wet days we had as we hiked across England last September.

A warm shower, a change of clothes and a cup of tea and I was ready to face the world again.

On Thursday I walked from Cooleman Court home along the Stanhope Highway. The Highway section was pretty much undamaged by the heavy rain. Sections of the track leading up to Cooleman Ridge and through the horse paddock leading of Mt Arawang had had some scouring but was generally in reasonable condition.

On Friday I checked out my Mt Taylor circuit with a climb up the Richmond Fellowship track and down the Manheim one.There was evidence of erosion in places but all in all the tracks and trails had fared pretty well.

On Saturday evening I took Trevor with me to do the short Mt Taylor circuit: from the Manheim St carpark we entered the Mt Taylor reserve and headed in an anti-clockwise direction around the mountain until we reached the Richmond Fellowship track. Up the track to the summit and then down the track leading to Manheim St. All up the circuit is a little short of 4km with about a 194m elevation gain.

On Sunday afternoon Trevor suggested doing the circuit again. We set off shortly before 7pm. As Trevor came up the Richmond Fellowship Track he observed a Wedge Tailed Eagle overhead. It eventually moved on and I saw it hovering near the summit before it darted off. As we were descending the mountain we came across an eagle on a dead tree. It obviously didn't mind observers as a number of people approached the tree and it just sat there. I took a series of photos of the eagle.

 During the month I saw eagles a number of times with a pair observed circling over Mt Arawang, too.

As we came down the Manheim track the sun was setting. There was quite a bit of smoke in the air and this made for interesting light effects.

I keep coming across lizards when I'm out and about. This little chap scooted across the bridge at the bottom of the Richmond Fellowship Track and "hid" behind the post.

All in all, February has been an interesting month with the initial heat and finally some welcome rain.

Stats for the month:

I walked 328.25km, a daily average of 11.72km
The elevation gain was 6575m which equates to 235m per day.
And my steps: 713,947 an average of 25,498 a day.

By the middle of February I had clocked up one million steps so far for the year.


  1. so how often are you replacing your shoes?

  2. Shoes are lasting between 4 and 6 months although I tend to have a pair of gym exclusive shoes and another pair which does rough, wet and dirty walking. Supposedly my shoes are rated to do 600km. The fabric starts to wear at around the 600km point but the structure is generally still OK and the soles are still fine.