Mt Twynam Micro-adventure

Over the Easter weekend Rose and I went on a few little micro-adventures. The biggest micro-adventure was from Charlottes Pass up to Mt Twynam and back, while we also ducked out to my favourite rock in the Brindabellas.

Google made a movie of it for me. Thanks Google!

 

Cotter Micro-Adventure

On Friday night I rode out to the Cotter for a night in my bivvy bag, and then rode back through to Canberra the long way. It was an excellent little micro-adventure and well worth the crazy rush trying pack up on Thursday night.

Can’t think of anything else to say really, so enjoy a photo or ten.

Sri Chinmoy Jindabyne Multisport – reports from Many!

Six friends and I recently took part in the Jindabyne Multisport Race which is run by the ever amazing Sri Chinmoy. As usual this was a pretty awesome event.

As I only did two of the twelve legs I asked everyone in the team to add their thoughts, lets just say they got carried away! I’ll have to work on my own reports eventually (potted summary kayaks are slower in surf skis, but can make it through storms without capsizing) but for now enjoy Alex and Joyce’s reports.

Alex

I got up at 5am super excited to get my 1.5km swim out of the way. Paddy and Rose accompanied me to the start line with 40 or so other competitors. I was worried about how cold it would be but the main thing was the darkness. The sun was only just coming up and it was overcast and … I had tinted goggles. I couldn’t see the buoys I was supposed to swim to, so great start! We started with the Sri Chinmoy minute silence before the race and off we swam! I panicked a bit but just tried to stay out of the crowd so I wouldn’t get swum over. After calming myself down and getting into my stroke, I eventually realised how warm the water was and from there all was well. I still couldn’t see the buoys but I just followed the swimmers ahead of me (there were plenty of them) and it was fine. The course was a loop, swimming clockwise around 2 buoys before heading back into the start line. Once they got our team number down, I quickly went to high five Paddy and push his kayak into the lake and he was on his way!!!

I now had the whole day ahead of my before I would have to run the final leg. Rose and I went to where Paddy was to finish his paddle and got her ready for her run leg. Paddy arrived and Rose was on her way! As I took the kayak back to the car with Paddy he mentioned “That was hard, really hard … don’t tell Rose”. And I didn’t… until the end of the day 😛

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Lucy organised amazing accomodation that allowed us to watch the 2.5km swimmers and paddlers in the lake. All the swimmers looked the same (sorry Hazo) but we got to cheer Rose on as she paddled on the way out! She was going hard! There was an awkward soloist behind her who was asking for directions. Just follow the others?

After a solid nap and some lunch and more waiting, I eventually got the call! With my lift held up due to poor Joyce waiting for her ferry, Rose drove me to the start of my run. We waited again for Paddy and was given serious warning about the slippery muddy bank, which I needed to be careful of when tagging my fellow paddler. Paddy came in, we high fived and I was off! This was an easy, flat 5km run, mostly along a footpath to the end. A soloist had just come in minutes before Paddy and I was slowly catching up to him. Maybe 10 minutes in I overtook him and had an awkward exchange where I congratulated him on being totally amazing for doing the race solo. He replied that I shouldn’t take it personally but he doesn’t like being beaten by girls. I told him that it should give him extra motivation and went ahead. Eventually he caught back up to me and we kept each other going for a bit … it was friendly again. I went too hard too soon and at about the 3km mark I let him go. I think he finished maybe 100m ahead of me … no hard feelings (mostly). I couldn’t believe I made it in under 25 min (I still can’t, I swear the course must have been shorter). I love the food at the end of the Sri Chinmoy races. It’s not that great (vegan burgers with stale bread) but it’s just so much fun that who really cares. It’s a free feed. Thank you to all my wonderful team mates for an awesome weekend!! I would highly recommend the event to other adventure inclined folk!IMG-20170305-WA0002

Joyce

Jindy Leg 9

It all started with a burning bite from a phantom ant, which also got James later. This was while we were waiting for Lucy to come in from her run.

Then Lucy came in, the awkward high-five while trying to pass my jacket to her. Then off I went, and had to stop barely 10 meters later … to put on my gloves. What a great start to the 42km of hills.IMG-20170305-WA0003

To sum it up the rest of the ride in a few phrases; spectacular scenery, beautiful creek crossings (other than the part where I had soggy shoes), lots of hills but fun downhills, and was a bit of a mental game. I’m just glad I’d taken the time to write down were the main hills were.

For much more detail, continue reading.

The first 8 km of uphill on tarmac was good, I was pushing myself a bit uphill, but kept counting down the km to the top of the hill, the highest point in the course. In slow motion, I passed two people on the first hill along Kosciuszko Road. Then came the tarmac downhill ride – Wee!! flew down the hill, and hit 73 km an hour! Then a right-hand turn onto Island Bend and a bit more downhill- this time winding towards to bottom of the valley – the scenery was stunning. I knew the hill would end at when the road crossed over Snow River, so mentally I was preparing myself for another big hill. The river was quite dry, but the large boulders at the bed was so beautiful – would be great for a photo if I wasn’t in a race. That was the halfway mark and 53 mins into my ride; I could not believe that I was going that fast, but I guess a large portion of the first part was on tarmac. The hill after that was steep and out came the granny gears. I was still trying to push my speed going uphill, trying to go for smooth pedal strokes and that’s when I passed another person. “Just keep pedalling” I told myself, and eventually I came up to a point where there was an awesome volunteer handing out water and electrolyte. After a quick drink of nice plain water (the electrolyte in my hydration pack was a bit too sweet, and just sucking all the moisture out of my mouth) it was time to tackle the next hill. I had to get off my bike for part of this one, the water stop made me realise how tired by legs were. Then back onto my bike, and more pedalling. The next challenge was to make it to 25ish km and it’ll be downhill with a small kicker until the plateau. Then a creek crossing – the creek looked beautiful and the water was nice and cool. Although I was not a great fan of soggy shoes, I was stoked at getting to cross a creek – it’s not everyday that you get to do that. Before the kicker, I could see the top of the hill (or what I thought it was), the fire road was quite clearly winding its way around, and the scenery was no worse than before. Once again, I kept thinking … “keep paddling and the scenery up there would be even better!”. On the way up, I passed another participant walking up the hill, then road with them for a couple of minutes, before trying to hammer it down the fire road hill. A sharp right turn where another great volunteer was, and then onto the plateau. The next part was a lot slower than I expected. The fire road led onto tracks from flatten grass; that just seemed to suck out all the energy from my legs. The scenery on the other hand was stunning, riding through the grass planes, with some hills on either side. More stunning scenery, a few more creek crossings, and passed another rider, all the while thinking that there was just one more hill. Over the hill and down some speedy fire trails with a few close calls (riding into the water flow-off, and nearly wiping out on a steep downhill rutted road when I got caught on the wrong side; the warning signed early set up by the organisers probably saved me as I eased off on the speed when I saw it). Then back out into the clearing with undulating hills that I was not expecting. The last 5km felt much longer, primarily because I could see the lake, and did not expect the grassy undulating hills. Then the beach came into sight! My thoughts at that point were “Pedal hard and try not to stack when you hit the sand!”  The transition to James was timed perfectly. Just as I entered the beach, he arrived on the ferry and off into the water he went.  In the meantime, I waited …and waited … and waited (with my emergency blanket when the rain came) for the ferry to go back. Other than the cold on the beach, the people were great, had a good conversation with some of the other participants.

Last but not least, a great shout out to all the volunteers and the organiser!

 

Mt Aspiring Hut Walk

After my walk along the Greenstone-Caples Track I met up with my friend Tol from SmilingLeaf for some more adventures. We headed up to Wanaka and then after some messing around for food (again) set out towards Mt Aspiring Hut. Now this was only a short walk of a few hours each way, with huts and such so we took it easy, carried some wine and dips and crackers etc. Really it was quite splendid and absolutely spectacular!

After the walk we headed back to Queenstown and hung out a bit more, with some ducks fo company.

Greenstone-Caples Track

The Greenstone-Caples was pretty much a last minute decision, and boy was it brilliant.

Prelude

I’d just arrived back in Queenstown after the Mt Alfred day walk which had left me with a taste for NZ hills and adventures. I had initially been considering spending a few days around Queenstown visiting wineries and such with my friends, but at around 5pm I got a message from my friend Tol saying she’d just down this walk and it was brilliant. I just had to do it. So actions stations it was. Somehow in 3hrs I managed to book a bus from Queenstown to Glenorchy,  another out to the trial head, shop for a four day walk and shower and wash all my clothes. To make everything easier I had the luxury of packing my bag and loading all my gear and then crashing in my friends tent for the night which was very convenient.

Day 1 – Greenstone Rd to Mid-Caples

By 7am I was up and at the bus pickup point in Queenstown ready for the ride out to Glenorchy. 8am-ish I was in Glenorchy sitting in the cafe ordering bacon and eggs and coffees while reading the guidebook entries for the hike I was about to head out on. Luckily the Greenstone-Caples doesn’t require booking and the huts are big enough that I had no issues getting a bed, although talking to the guides it can be an issue sometimes. Anyway at 10am the bus picked me up and dropped me at the trail head at noon.

The first days walk is splendidly cruisy, 4 hrs of gentle incline up through a wide river valley gives you a good taste of what is install, without giving away any of the spectacular scenery. I chose to start from Greenstone Rd because it was a lot easier to get to from Queenstown, and then all the advice I got was to go to Mid-Caples hut first as it meant you could enjoy the saddle on the second day.

Mid Caples Hut is pretty spectacular with great views up the valley but watch out for the sandflies – they are bigger and faster than anywhere else in NZ and give you no chance to put your shoes even before they start eating you.

Day 2 – Mid Caples Hut to McKellar Hut

This is the main day of walking, and the only one that provides any real challenge on the trip. It starts by walking up the valley before climbing up a spectacularly well made track of gentle gradient to McKellar Saddle (945m) before an incredibly steep decent down to Lake McKellar. The track passes through beech forest and open grazing land meaning you get a really nice mix of views and closed forest so there is always something interesting, while the gradient up to the saddle from this size means that you can just wind slowly up the hill.

Up on the saddle the weather closed in a little (only a tiny bit actually) and went from shorts and shirt through the low lands to full rain gear conditions up the top – mostly it was to stay warm, but also because there was mist blowing in somewhat horizontally. I imagine it wouldn’t be that fun in actual bad weather. I’d also strongly recommend considering lunch before you leave the tree line because there were a lot of people who walked to the top without taking many breaks only to be surprised by how little they wanted to stop for lunch up in the rain and wind. I have to give a lot of credit though to the pair who were huddled behind a tiny bush with their tent fly over their legs to eat lunch – that showed some determination to eat! I made it over the saddle and part way down the track before finding a nice rock to eat lunch on which seems like a bit of a luxury.

After you descent rapidly to the valley floor again you’re into the Greenstone Valley and the rest of the days walk is a deceptively long but rather flat stroll down to the hut.

That night at the hut I met a group of awesome people from England and the Netherlands. They had all come from different locations around the world to hike in NZ and as with all good hikers they were happy to make new friends. We spent the evening hanging out and teaching each other card games. I by some fluke new the best game (Diabolical) so we played a few rounds while chatting and getting to know each other. Have I mentioned ever that NZ huts are awesome?

Day 3: McKellar Hut to Greenstone Hut

Day 3 was described a relatively flat day but the undulations as the track passed around rockfalls and over the ends of ridges that pushed into the Greenstone Valley. It generally just passed along the river flats in between and made for a simply spectacular day. As an additional advantage there were far fewer sandflies.

An hour or two into the day I joined a couple from the group I’d been playing cards with the night before. As we walked along we talked and walked and I heard all about their previous adventures mapping rivers in the Amazon and camping on ice sheets in Norway.

At some point after lunch I strolled off ahead and ended up a fair way ahead, but as luck would have it I spent a little while exploring and detouring and found a lovely spot for an afternoon cuppa just as they were arriving. So, with a stash off coffee and stove in hand we  found a great spot, stripped off and swam out to an island in the stream were we splashed around in the rather fresh water, and then stood in the sun enjoying the amazingly sandfly free location.

The afternoon continued relatively uneventfully with a small interlude of watching horses cross a river.

Eventually I arrived at Greenstone Hut to enjoy the company of my new friends again.

Day 4: McKellar Hut to Greenstone Road End

I had a really early start to head out to the road end as I had arranged for a shuttle bus back to Queenstown at 12pm. I was also really keen to do the detour out to Lake Rere. The day was a fairly solid walk with no breaks which was a shame. Next time I will make sure I have more time!

 

 

Mt Alfred – An Awesome Day Walk

Disclaimer: I probably shouldn’t have done this walk – it is closed above the tree line but in a moment of weakness I followed the crowds (which were significant) and finished the walk. Check with the landowners before completing this walk!

The walk up to the summit of Mt Alfred is somewhat arduous but well and truly worth it. The walk begins with a long and steep climb up from a very small car park up through beech forest. For several kilometres you walk upwards on a slightly eroded and warn track that when I was there a lot of fallen trees. It takes a fair chunk of time to get up there because it is a continuous incline without any level ground.

Anyway, you eventually break through to the tree line and after a slightly scrambly section you are up on the ridge and the views are simply stunning. I had a perfectly clear skies with views in all directions – basically it was amazing.

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The Queen Charlotte Track – NZ

The Queen Charlotte Track (or QCT for short) is a 4 to 5 day walk at the northern end of the the South Island of New Zealand. It is stupendously well built and managed track that is a cool collaboration between landowners and public bodies. The track is mainly well built, wide fire trail that makes for very easy walking that is not challenging except for the grade of some of the hills.

The walk is largely along the ridge lines that divide Queen Charlotte Sound and Kenepuru Sound. In good weather is it ludicrously beautifully, in bad weather the winds and rain on the ridges can be intense. On my trip I was lucky to have a wide range of weather including persistent rain for a few days, beautiful warm sunshine, and sunsets worth staying up until 10pm to see.

I am not going to write much about this trip because to be honest the walk isn’t one worth writing all that much about. There are views, hills, bays and sounds etc. There are fancy bars and resorts, campsites and the odd bench. Basically it is a super long walk along  headland – but that is not to say that it isn’t worth it. It is great. So, instead of reading have a look at some photos.

Cotter Liloing

Recently a few friends and I have re-discovered the joys of lazy days liloing on local rivers. These little micro-adventures allow us to escape the city for the morning, have a whole heap of fun and then still get to the cafe for lunch which is pretty awesome. Even better has been the fact that Canberra has multiple stretches of river that are accessible by car and allow car shuffles so you get to avoid the massive walk outs associated with lil0 canyons in the Blue Mountains, like the Wollangambe River (see the following posts Wollangambe 1 or Wollangambe 2.)

Thanks Alex, Rose and Lou for the fun on this little outing!

ANUMC Kayaking

For the past few months I have been kayaking semi-regularly with the ANU Mountaineering Club kayaking group on Tuesdays. It is a great crew of people and kayaking on Lake Burley  Griffin is just great.

Three cheers for mid-week microadventures!

 

Wilsons Prom – Another Amazing Adventure – Part 2

 

We left Part One at Refuge Cove – my favourite campsite at Wilsons Promintory. From there I started heading up the hill at a fairly leisurely pace. The cloud and broken and for the first time I was hot but not concerned about an incoming rain shower. Towards the top of the big climb out of the cove I found a beautiful flatish rock for lunch in the sun and out of the worst of the wind. A fairly long and unearned break followed as I hadn’t walked far and wasn’t planning on doing so.

Eventually I got my act together, wandered up to the peak and down towards Little Waterloo Bay. I had intended on another short day but when I arrived at the campsite it was packed to the point of overflowing and the only sites left rather damp and boggy so after topping up my water I continued walking. After crossing the creek at the north end of Waterloo Bay the rain returned in full force. A cross between fog, heavy downpours and steam it was way too hot to walk in full rain gear so I walked in a rain coat and boots which would surely have looked silly, but luckily I didn’t come across anyone.

Eventually I made it to half way hut which is my favourite campsite on the prom because no one is ever there.

The next day I plodded along to the light house and very nearly the southern most point of Australia, then back up towards Little Waterloo Bay. As luck would have it it was the ranger change over at the lighthouse again so i still haven’t seen the museum, but perhaps next time I will get a chance.

The sun came out properly on the way to LWB which mean by the time I got to Waterloo Bay beach I was hot and sticky so I took myself for a little swim (again luck no one was there to watch) before setting up camp and enjoying a spectacular sunset from on top of a rock.

In the morning I ate breakfast but discovered Ihad run out of gas so was sadly lacking in coffee. Consequently I decided to walk back to the car and skip a campsite. I marched across to Oberon Bay and desperate for a coffee. While I was having a swimming break I meet a lovely couple hiking with their three kids and they offered to heat water for me that night and in the morning which absolutely saved the last day of my trip – as I had  marched in and arrived early it meant I could swim and read for the rest of the afternoon.

The next morning I wandered out before heading back to Melbourne for my mates wedding.