Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hiking? Now where's my bike?

This weekend was planned to be a camping weekend with my daughter. We were going to take our bikes and amble along some gentle trails, maybe happen upon a coffee shop for a milkshake and banana cake, then wander back. Unfortunately, with all the rain this week we decided that mud wrestling wasn't such a good idea and that we needed to find somewhere a little more elevated and less likely to be waterlogged. I have been meaning to do the hike up Mt Warning, near Murwillumbah, in northern New South Wales for a number of years now and I felt confident that my eight, almost nine, year old would be able to make the climb.

So we set off today, before first light, which was terribly exciting for an eight year old. She was beaming so widely I thought her cheeks might split! And talking! I couldn't get a word in edge ways!

About an hour or so later we were there.

It was a cool, clear morning almost perfect for a walk. So we did.

The forest was amazing with massive old trees, wrapped with vines, intermingled with palms.

The pace was fairly lively for the first hour with only brief stops to look at a tree here, a log there.

When the whining tone began to enter her voice I merely dove into a backpack and supplied her with some food. This solution was found during a hike earlier this year and it worked a treat again today.

Her snapping...... snapping.

The odd rest was taken in preparation for the final assault on the summit.

The last few hundred metres were going to be the really interesting ones. When we reached this sign and watched the chain rail swinging around as unseen walkers clung to it, I was wondering if it was such a good idea to have brought an eight year old up here.

But she was beaming again! As far as she was concerned, this was going to be the fun bit. I was not quite so sure. Climbing the 60-70 degree slope looked easy enough, but it was the decending that I was wondering about. It was going to be slippery and that chain looked like a lifeline.

Yes, her mother will have a heart attack when she sees this!!! "Crusty" was having the time of her life though and I was having trouble keeping up. Keen Targhee boots are not the best choice for climbing slippery, wet rockfaces. This section is only about one hundred metres long and was quickly covered so that we could get to the view. It was a perfect day, with almost calm conditions and just a little cumulus cloud trying to form over the Border Ranges, to the north. We could not have hoped for a better day to make the trek and as I was taking in the view a little voice was squeaking out for her Vegemite sandwich as she was "starving". The little voice quietened again, I managed to get some photos of the view. And what a view it is! As the summit is only about ten metres around,there are perfect views in all directions.

All too soon it was time to go. The down bit was slightly sketchy and I must admit to a bit of heart in mouth at times as the hand and foot holds are spaced for an adult, not a child. Lucy did a fine job though and only made one or two leaps of faith!

The walk down was quite a busy one as many walkers made their way to the summit. I have to wonder how many made it because there were many mum, dad and the kids in boat shoes, with no water, puffing like a coronary was imminent at any moment and asking us "is it far"? Totally unprepared, but hey, it is a free country.

Back at the car once again we made our way to the Rainforest Cafe for the milkshake and cake that I had been promising, as a carrot, for the last hour or so. I think it was worth the wait and if the slurping of an empty milkshake glass is any indication my hiking partner was in agreement.

Stats for the walk were 4:40 total time with 2:23 moving and about 720 metres(2300ft) climbing over 9.5 kilometres. That probably explains the 100 or so kilometres she slept through during the drive home.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wallum Froglet, Part "A"

Saturday dawned fine and clear after the heavy downpours of friday. Good news for the trail building crew, as today was hopefully going to mark the end of Part A. The plan for today was to cut a dropout trail two hunderd metres long to the fire road, going from virgin hillside to fully finished IMBA standard single track. The rollout was impressive. The saying "many hands make light work" sprang to mind.

Over the course of the next four hours we were taken through the trail building process by local professional, Oppy. 

As we moved along the hillside an amazing thing happened. A ribbony length of single track appeared behind us. Look behind you's following us.

Once we reached the fire road it was time to head back and place the duff we were saving along each side of the trail. There before us was a completed section of trail that looked like it had been there for ever, unlike the main part of the trail that still needs fixes applied to it. Some say this trail is too easy. True, but it is only a drop out track to make part A ride able/usable before we push on with part B of Wallum Froglet trail. Once part B has been carefully marked out to ensure it is going to be sustainable and not turn into an erosion embarrassment, we can apply these newly learned skills to it's steep slopes.

In the mean time, chuck another steak on the bbq, then lets go for a ride!