Friday, December 26, 2014

Glutton For Punishment - The Followup

The plan:
Drop off car near Cronulla Station, take 5:25am train to Otford, Walk to trail head at Otford Lookout.
Begin hike at +/-6:30am.
Need to complete hike at Bundarra before 7:00 PM to catch last ferry back to Cronulla.
12 hours to do 26km. Easy peasy.

You know- there is a reason that they recommend making it a two-day hike...
Looking at the satellite views from Google maps doesn't tell the whole story.
I should have taken the walk from the station to the trailhead as a sign of things to come.

I got to the station just after 6:00 am.

From the station to the lookout is a 300' climb.
Not a good way start...
I had my backpack with water, a change of clothes, etc, and I had picked up an aluminum telescoping walking stick... The stick was a life saver.
I used it in it's original office to steady myself- but I also employed it to fight off the spiders...
The bad thing about being first on the trail for the day is that overnight the spiders have laid webs thick and heavy across the trail.

(One of billions)


Once I got started I was doing pretty good. I resigned myself to the fact that this was going to be an all-day thing.
One thing that all the documentation said was that it could be done in one day if the hiker was in excellent shape.
Dude, I am NOT in excellent shape.
I'm not even in decent shape.

By about 10:30 I had made several up-and-down traverses- from the top of the hills and cliffs, then down to the beach, then back up to the top of the next cliffs to the next descent to the next beach...
And the beaches- beautiful and deserted, but-

Slogging in hiking boots across the sand will sap every bit of energy you have.
And there is an inevitable realization that when you go down, you must also go back up.

I had made it to Garie Beach by 10:45 and the sun was starting to come out...
I slathered up in sunscreen and kept at it.
The worst climb was coming up... The climb up to Garie Overlook was another 350' up a winding log and stone path. I'm not embarrassed to say that it took me almost 90 minutes to get to the top, and another 30 to recover from the climb and eventually move on.

One thing about the paths and trails...
There is quite a bit of variation in the paths- from barely-recognizable paths through scrub, to wide-open roads, to composite decking that traverse grassy areas.

Rocks in the path like this are ankle-breakers. Not to hikers: Wear boots with good ankle support. I wore my Belleville boots- had I worn sneakers I would have had to bail an hour into the trip.

Wide-open spaces. Watch for spider webs.

Another danger was not paying attention...
If you stopped on the trail, you had to make sure you weren't standing on these:

Some bad-ass army ants would boil up out of these holes and (I assume) bite the shit out of you...
I saw them swarm once early in the day, and I steered clear after seeing how fast they could move.

Composite decking on the cliffside.

Another high climb from sea level...

Mmmm. Nice decking...

There was a long relatively flat stretch (about 4 miles or so) where I just got roasted by the sun... It was a tease, however.

Pretty plants... They are probably poisonous, this being Australia and all...
(Took this pic with my Samsung phone, hence the quality- most other pics were taken with my Oz iPhone from the tournament.)

Rain was in the forecast for the afternoon and I could see the clouds rolling in from the north as I soldiered onward.
I didn't realize how fast the storm was coming. I got to the next way point, Eagle Rock at a 1:45p, and the wind was whipping and the rain started.
I hunkered down under an overhang of rock waiting for the worst of the rain to pass-
it took almost an hour- and now I was starting to worry about making the ferry at 7 PM.
I also knew I had 2 major climbs in front of me...
One thing I had in my backpack was one of those Mylar space blankets...
I wrapped up in that, covering my head and my backpack (a wet backpack is HEAVY) and got on my way.
Fortunately the rain had slacked off a good bit- just waves of drizzle...
Curracarrang to Wattamolla was a wet blur for me. It was my next resting place...
I changed socks and got going again- another high climb off the beach at Wattamolla and then off across the cliffs again heading for the Marley beaches.
I got smart going across the Marley beaches by taking off my boots and carrying them in my backpack- much better going- definitely worth the time.
One last climb up from Marley's beach - it was just after 4pm... I had a 400' climb over the next mile and a half- then a long downhill to the ferry in Bundeena and the rain was getting heavier... the drizzle was now waves of short light showers.
I got to the trail end at 6:05pm, and walked through the streets of Bundeena trying to find the ferry dock. I got to the dock just at 6:30- the last inbound ferry just arrived.
I got my ticket and sat on the boat to wait for the ride back to my car...
It was uneventful, except I could barely drive once I got to the car.
I had to take my boots off and massage my feet and legs for a bit before I could get back on the road...

But I made it.

From the pedometer on my phone...

Did I have a good time?
Not really...
Was it cool?
Yes- I'm glad I did it.
Do it again?



Ben Catoe said...

Sounds like quite the workout. Glad you made it back safe.

kx59 said...

Were you wearing the new shoes you got for your plantar fasciitis?

20+ miles, kudos J.

I need to go back a read that post again for the brand of shoe. Mine flared up in my left foot a week or so ago. PTA.

Old NFO said...

Hey, you DID IT! More than a lot of folks can say! :-)

The Big Guy said...

@bug - Thanks

@kx - Bellevilles - got 'em off Amazon. Great boots.

@O'NFO - thanks! It was quite a hike...165

Borepatch said...

The bike sounds like more fun. ;-)