Wednesday, 2 April 2014

March ... a little madness at the end of the month

Trevor's mother passed away on 27 February at the advanced age of 95 years. As we had a school carnival at Yass on Friday 28th Trevor did not depart for Queensland until the Saturday. After dropping him at the airport at some ungodly hour for his flight to Brisbane I returned home and then headed off to the gym.

Returning home I decided that it was a pleasant day and, with the recent rain dampening the vegetation and thus reducing the fire risk, I decided to see if the route up to the summit of Black Mountain was open. Heading off through the Botanical Gardens I came across numerous small birds attacking the flowers on the Coreas with gusto. Having noted this activity I continued on my way. As I passed the Red Centre Garden it was obvious that it had sustained some damage in the recent heavy rain.

The Red Centre Garden
Arriving at the boundary fence I was pleased to find the gate unlocked so headed out and up. A little way along the track there was a sign stating that the climb up would take 1 hour 10 minutes and the round trip 1 hour 50 minutes. I'm not sure who did the timing but it didn't take anywhere near that time to make the climb and descend.
The Black Mountain tower visible through the trees on the way up the mountain

A rather grey looking sky behind the tower

Some of the interesting looking trees up on Black Mountain
Once back inside the gardens I came across more of the small birds feasting on the Corea nectar. Try as I may I failed to get a decent photo of these elusive creatures.

During March I made numerous trips up to the top of Mt Taylor. Some of the climbs were in the early evening and I was treated to some lovely sunsets. Then there was the evening, well night really, when I made the climb by moonlight. The moon was very bright and was reflecting enough light that I did not need to use my torch on the way up the Richmond Fellowship Trail. I was surprised when I arrived at the top to find a heap of people there. Some had settled in and were happily consuming beverages while others were wandering around looking at the lights of the city below. As I headed down the Mannheim Street track I encountered more people coming up the mountain in the dark. Some were family groups with relatively young children. I was beginning to think that some sort of convention was happening on top of the mountain. I was also surprised that quite a few people did not seem to be carrying any light. On the way up this is sort of OK but very dangerous going down. When I got down to the Mannheim Street "carpark" I was asked by a young chap which was the quickest way to the top of the mountain and would he be able to see the fireworks from there. The penny finally dropped. There were fireworks scheduled for the night and the crowd on top of Mt Taylor were there to see them. They should have had a good view, too. I didn't bother returning to the top of the mountain though!
Kangaroos grazing just below the summit of Mt Taylor

Looking down over the "horse paddock" which was now green

During March I struggled to get as much walking in as I would have liked. A trip to Queensland for Molly's funeral impacted a couple of days and then there were all the swimming activities: ACT Championships, Brophy and numerous school meets. They all contributed. By the last week of the month there was also a lot of rain. I was well short of my targets. Fortunately the Canberra Walking Festival provided a solution on the last weekend of the month with a marathon walk (42.2km) on the Saturday and a choice of 10km, 20km or 30km on the Sunday. There were other walks on the Saturday as well as the marathon but it was the marathon that I selected. It was possible to register on the day and I duly presented myself in plenty of time to complete the paperwork and commence the walk at 7:30am.

Walkers gathering ahead of the marathon walk

The gray, misty morning ahead of the marathon walk

I'm not sure how many people did the marathon walk but there was a reasonable sized crowd who set off in the the gloom of the misty morning. The first 10km took us through Kingston, Manuka, Forrest, past old and new Parliament House before heading back to the shore of Lake Burley Griffin.
A different view of the Parliament House flagpole
View across Lake Burley Griffin toward Black Mountain

We then did the 32km circuit of the lake before arriving back at our starting point. I was really pleased with how well I managed the 42km. The balls of my feet were a little sore and my left heal was rubbed but otherwise I was in pretty good shape. A bath, a foot rub and an afternoon snooze and an early night did wonders.

On Sunday morning I was up early and headed off to Kingston for my second longish walk of the weekend. This time I was only doing 20km. I had grabbed some hikers wool from Trevor to protect the tender parts of my feet and it worked for the balls which came through the walk in good shape. I did end up with a double blister on my left heal. Bother!

As for the walk, we set out just before 9 o'clock. It was another grey day with mist hanging around. This made for good walking conditions. Crossing Kings Avenue we headed through the carpark and walked along the side of the John Gorton Building. Crossing over to a wide path that runs alongside the rose gardens in front of old Parliament House we were confronted by a lot of traffic ... unusual for a Sunday until we worked out that a classic car event was taking place on the grass area in front of the rose gardens. There were some great looking cars already lined up for inspection and a heap of people already streaming in the area. It made the going a little slower than would otherwise have been the case. We eventually passed the Treasury Building and headed past the side of the National Library before passing under Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.
The rose gardens
Looking towards a mist shrouded Acton from Commonwealth Avenue Bridge

Walkers crossing the bridge across Sullivans Creek in the grounds of ANU

After crossing the lake using the Commonwealth Avenue bridge we headed around the lake as far as the ferry terminal before taking a footbridge across to Acton and the grounds of the Australian National University. Passing through the almost deserted university grounds we headed for the Botanical Gardens.

The pedestrian entrance to the Botanical Gardens
Gosh, it was only a few weeks since my last visit. Our route took us through the gardens, initially along the lower rainforest boardwalk before heading towards the exit gate that I used when walking up to the Black Mountain summit. Today, on exiting the gardens, we headed down rather than up and walked through the Canberra Nature Reserve that surrounds Black Mountain before crossing into the suburb of Turner and then on to O'Connor, Lyneham, Dickson and Hackett. Arriving at the nature reserve that surrounds Mt Ainslie we followed a number of trails in a generally anti-clockwise direction before exiting the park at the back of the War Memorial. Next came Anzac Parade with its memorials lining both side of the road. It was then a short walk along the lake shore, across the lake using the Kings Avenue Bridge and back to our starting point.

On both days I had walked with people for part of the time and their company certainly made the walk go quickly.

At the end of the walks I actually felt pretty good. I had averaged just on 10 minute a km for the 20.2km. Apart from the blistered heal the body had stood up well to the two days of walking.

I was left with one problem. I hadn't done my mountain climb of the week. Taylor didn't count as I had tagged it for one of the earlier weeks in March. So, around 4 o'clock, with rain threatening I headed off to climb one of the local mountains/hills: McQuoids Hill. Apart from the lack of tracks to follow and the rather wet, a result of an afternoon thunderstorm, it was a pleasant walk, blister and all. The hill was populated with numerous huge kangaroos and they kept hopping away from me in the direction I was walking. Silly animals.

In the final weekend I managed to catch up most of my distance shortfall from earlier in the month. The step count was healthy. Only the elevation gain was a little below my monthly target. Pretty good all up considering the disrupted month.

Oh, yes, I have now ticked over the 2 million steps so far this year.

During the month I encountered more of my lizards and the one spotted near the start of the Richmond Fellowship Trail appeared a couple of times. There was abundant bird life in evidence although not many of the small birds except for those spotted in the Botanical Gardens. The kangaroos enjoyed the improved conditions and the fresh young grass appeared to me to their liking.

In many of the places I walk within the ACT I encounter ant nests. There are quite a few along the Mt Taylor circuit. During the winter, when the ants are not too active, walking across the nest is fairly painless. Not so during the warmer weather when you are likely to pick up ants on your shoes. Ant bites generally follow.

An ant nest straddling the path
When the nest straddles the path the best approach is to walk along the edge where the least number of active ants are.

The magpies on top of Mt Taylor are rather cheeky. They probably manage to con food out of people as they certainly thought that I should part with some of the grapes I was munching.

The month had quite a few wet days. Sometimes the rain was confined to the ranges which meant some interesting views.

And then there were the sunsets ...

The cockatoos were everywhere. Often there would be trees covered in white things. On closer inspection they turned out to be cockies.

My stats for March:
Distance: 344.37km; an average of 11.11km per day
Elevation gain: 6157m which was an average of 199m per day, just short of ny 200m per day target
Steps: 705,886 and average of 22,771 per day

No comments:

Post a Comment