Saturday, 31 May 2014

May and some cooler weather

After a big walking month in April May started off fine and then, in the second week, the wheels fell off.

Trevor returned from 3 weeks in China on the 4th. Astrid was over on Tuesday which, with darkness falling a little after 5 o'clock, restricts the amount of walking possible. On the Wednesday I did manage to make up for most of Tuesday's shortfall then on Thursday I flew down to Melbourne to attend the funeral of the last of my parent's siblings. Friday was the second day of the Schools Swimming Championships and I had missed the first day. Saturday was a development swim meet followed by a distance meet. Walking definitely took a back seat during this week.

Sunday was Mother's Day and the family went out for breakfast. After doing some swimming stuff Trevor and I headed over to the Botanical Gardens and while Trevor was looking for small birds and eventually climbed up to the summit of Black Mountain I headed off to do some more of the Canberra Centenary Trail. I did do bits and pieces of the trail within my 28.66km walk but I was definitely unimpressed with the poor signage and lack of a clear description of the trail. Very frustrating. I'll do a separate post on the Canberra Centenary Trail experiences in due course.
A glorious view along the edge of Lake Burley Griffin
I was treated to a brilliant sunset, scattered kangaroos and lots of tiny wrens. By the time I made it home my feet were complaining about their lot in life.

While Monday (12th) started cool it was not an unpleasant day. In the late afternoon I did a circuit from home to Mt Taylor, up the mountain and home.

On Tuesday Trevor and I went to Woden for lunch. I walked home at a rather slow pace once inside the Mt Taylor reserve as I was on the lookout for small birds. They were elusive. My slow pace meant that Runtastic gave up on me during the climb up and down the mountain. I suspected that the monitoring failed when the pace dropped off and this was the first clear evidence of just how sensitive it is. As I had walked this route on numerous occasions it was easy to correct the distance and elevation gain information. Still, I need to consider whether I should change to another tracking system.

Wednesday was my usual gym session and I walked to and from the gym. This was good for distance and step count but a bit useless for elevation gain. Consequently I went and climbed Mt Taylor in the late afternoon. As I was coming down in the gloom I encountered lots of people heading up the mountain and not one of them was displaying a light. The track is quite uneven and very little light filters through the trees so, after nightfall, the risk of a fall or twisted ankle or knee is not insignificant. Rather them than me.

More Canberra Centenary Trail walking
On Sunday (18th) Michael and I agreed to tackle more of the Canberra Centenary Trail (CCT). To reduce the time it would take to get home after the walk we decided to take two cars and do a car shuffle. As we were walking from Watson (still in section 1) to Forde (part way through section 2) we met at the Mulligans Flat carpark in Forde before heading over to Watson for a latish breakfast. Suitably fueled up we headed to the edge of Watson where we abandoned Michael's car.

The walk started with my phone refusing to pick up a GPS signal. Michael covered for me by using an app on his phone. By the time I had my phone operational I realised that we had started after the summit track for Mt. Majura, a climb I had expected to include in the days walk. Shrug. I'll do it another time.

It was a pleasant day, sunny and not overly hot. Both of us ended up taking off our fleeces and walking in out shirts. There was a surprising lack of wildlife and it wasn't until we were close to the finish of our walk that we spotted our first kangaroos. Unfortunately for the roos they are in one of the designated culling zones so they may not survive the next few weeks if the cull proceeds. There were some large birds around. Magpies and a variety of parrots were the dominant species. We didn't come across any really small birds.

The frustration with the CCT signage continued and at one point we walked along the edge of the Federal Highway (not a good experience with cars and trucks whizzing past at 100+ kph just feet away from us) as there was no CCT sign directing us to cross over/under the road. There was a standard bicycles "cross with care" sign that we had passed but no CCT sign. We did see the Hughie Edwards rest area, the end point of CCT section 1, across the highway but getting to it would have meant doubling back. We plodded on and eventually picked up the CCT where it cross to our side of the Federal Highway.
There is the Federal Highway and the rest area but we were definitely on the wrong side

By the time we had walked through Mulligan's Flat and reached the carpark we had walked 18.5km.

I think that I can now claim to have completed more than half the CCT. I'll work on completing over the next few weeks as time permits.

Thursday 22nd
By the time I got home from the Family History Centre and did a couple of swimming related things the afternoon was drawing to a close. Heading out I decided to climb Mt Arawang and do a loop through Chapman and back home along Namatjira Drive. It was a pleasant evening with lovely pink stripes hovering above the ranges to the west. No photos as I didn't have my camera with me. I climbed up the track on the southern side. This is not a track I use during the summer as it is very narrow in places and the views of the track are obscured by long grass. It would be difficult to see a wriggly thing on or near the track in quite a few spots. I would rather come across snakes on nice wide, clear tracks where we both have a chance to avoid each other. At this time of year snakes are not an issue so the southern track was OK. The track climbs up to a high point before dipping and crossing a shallow grassy saddle and then climbs again to reach the trig point. The saddle had a collection of kangaroos spread across it as I came over the rise. All but one hopped away as I traversed the saddle. The roos were a pleasant surprise.

The area around the trig point is strewn with sizable boulders and as I reached the top I found a lass sitting cross legged on one of the rocks. Coming across anyone on the mountain at that time of day is unusual but up at the trig point totally unexpected. Still, the view was nice and the sky was still smeared with bands of pink. Looking towards the west I spied a couple perched on another rock. Three people up at the trig point in the gathering gloom ... actually four if you count me. I left them in peace and headed down the western track which brought me out onto the Stanhope Highway. The views from this track were pretty as the lights started to take effect across Western Creek, Woden and through to the city.

... another walk and another great sunset- looking north from the eastern side of Mt Taylor. This one was taken on the 24th

 On Sunday 25th I decided to head off on a walk in the mid to late afternoon. I initially headed to McQuoid's Hill. Instead of climbing up to the trig point I did a circumnavigation using one of the fire trails. There were some great views across to the ranges which run down to the Murrumbidgee River. Unfortunately, in the late afternoon the sun was in the wrong place to get any decent photos.

I came across a couple of groups of small birds. Fairy wrens were definitely part of the group but what the rest were is still to be determined. They were all very small.

There were quite a few kangaroos on the eastern side of the hill. Some were skitish while others just let me wander past with no obvious concern.

I came across a number of people out and about on McQuoids.

Leaving McQuoid's I walked along Kambah Pool Road heading towards the pool until the Bicentential Trail cut around the edge of the Murrumbidgee Country Club and head along the base of Urambi Hills. I had told Trevor that I would be out for a couple of hours and I was conscious of the elapsed time so did not climb up to the trig point but headed down into Kambah and home. There was a surprising number of people out and about in the early evening. Most seem to be accompanied by dogs. I suspect that Kambah has a huge dog population.

The section of the Bicentennial  National Trail that I walked along was well signed. A far cry from the poor signage of the Canberra Centennial Track.

On Tuesday afternoon the weather took a turn for wet and wild and an anticipated walk to the Tuggeranong Town Centre and back was abandoned. So on Wednesday 28th, after my PT session, I figured that I would make up for my failure to reach the Urambi Hills trig point on Sunday as well as my shortfall in distance walked and elevation gained on the day before. I approached the trig point from the south west, not the usual track which comes up from the Learmont Drive side. There were numerous tracks some, I suspect, were roo tracks rather than created by the passage of people. Still, they did eventually get me to the proper walking track to the trig point.

From the Urambi Hills trig point there are good views across to the Bulleen Range and parts of the Murrumbidgee River. Bits of Red Rock Gorge, on the far bank of the river are also visible. Certainly it is a pleasant vista. Sorry, no photos as I did not have my camera as I thought that it might rain during the morning.

My initial descent from the trig point was via a slightly different path which skirts around the top of the hill. Looking down from the path I was stunned to see hundreds, I kid you not, of kangaroos grazing on the grassy slopes. Mt Taylor's kangaroo numbers are pathetic compared to those on Urambi Hills.

Trevor and I lunched at Cooleman Court and I walked home, still trying to make up for lack of walking on the previous day. By the time I reached Cooleman Ridge the dark cloud moving across the ranges was starting to drop rain. To the west it was raining yet Mt Taylor, such a short distance away from where I was, was bathed in sunshine.

The weather closing in over the ranges to the west

Definitely rain falling on the ranges ...
... but Mt Taylor bathed in sunshine

Friday 30th was still in the middle of the day as this photo taken across Lake Tuggeranong attests.

Saturday 31st was a gray day and possible showers were forecast for later in the day. Not to be put off by the possibly inclement weather I headed out for an early afternoon walk. I decided to tackle, again, part of the Canberra Centenary Trail and selected the section from Black Mountain to the Arboretum in the hope that I could actually keep on track this time. Actually I did preetty well although my opinion of the poor siting of track markers was only reinforced by the walk today.

Starting off from the car park at the Botanical Gardens I headed up to the summit of Black Mountain. Some work had been done on the summit track in the last three weeks and many of the broken, eroded spots had been repaired.

Coming down the mountain I was attempting to see where I had gone wrong on Mother's Day. Due to the poor sign placement I almost missed a turn again today. This time I checked the signs from both sides to see if there was any difference in information. Yes, there was. Not good.

Walking through the Black Mountain reserve I came across quite a few shrubby plants in flower. I'm not sure what they are. The flower looks like an acacia. I'll investigate further and see what it is.

The track wandered though forest at the base of Black Mountain.

Just before ducking under Casswell Drive I got glimpses of the Black Mountain Tower.

The trail took me through some of the Aranda parkland, initially through a wooded area and then through a grassland, as I headed towards William Hovell Drive. I had thought that the Urambi Hills were heavily populated with kangaroos. This area of Aranda was also sporting numerous kangaroos.

Kangaroos lined up along a ridge

A small part of the roo population in this paddock
A rather impressive male ... standing well over 5ft tall
I did appreciate the style ... much easier to negotiate than a step through ... although not nearly as impressive as the one I came across in Forde.

The track took me into the Arboretum and through a cork plantation. I had not realised that this plantation was here. I had previous walked through the cork plantation on the lake side of the Tuggeranong Parkway without realising that there was another large area of cork trees just a hop, step and a jump away.

Apart from the obvious cork in the plantation I came across some spectacular fungi.

Pretty but poisonous

Trevor did a search and discovered that they are highly poisonous. They still look spectacular and, no, I was not tempted to collect any for dinner!

The track weaved its way through parts of the Arboretum. There were glimpses of the lake a even the back side of Government House. I was surprised just how many buildings there are at the GGs residence. I was pleased to finally reach the entrance road so that I could exit this vast area of trees.

It was a comforting feeling heading under the Tuggeranong Parkway as I knew that I only had a short distance to go, about 4km, to get back to my car.

The Tuggeranong Parkway underpass near the Arboretum
The days was very still and Lake Burley Griffin provided some terrific reflections in its still waters.

I was happy to get back to the car park at the Botanical Gardens and head for home having covered some 13.35km.

The weather throughout May was been generally quite pleasant. There has been the odd damp day, some fog but mostly sunshine. Some of the mornings have been rather cool but these can be coped with if the day is fine and sunny. There have been some spectacular sunsets, too.


Partway through the second week of May I reached the 3 million step mark for the year and by the end of the month had walked more than 3 1/2 million steps during 2014. Perhaps it is time for a new pair of shoes!

By months end I had walked 1,828.62km and gained 36,250m in elevation since the start of the year.

And in May?

Distance walked: 354.54km at an average of 11.44km per day
Elevation gained: 6,906m (average 223m per day)
Steps: 667,418, an average of 21,530 per day.

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