Thursday, 12 April 2012

Day 18………..Back in Action, Putting Safety First.

The Maui Mother Ship rattled up the starting point for the day on the Limestone Road, considered a major road in these parts, it was a wide open dirt highway that would take me as far as the Mount Hope Road where I would begin. The weather was glorious and if you hadn’t been up here the two days ago previous you would have never believed there had been snow!

I jumped out of the Maui and got my stuff together for the day, why Vickie once again knocked up a jam and peanut butter sandwich, which 18 days in, was becoming something of a ritual. I got out some new Vasque Mindbenders, my trail running shoes of choice for this run, as my others had clocked up some 520km and I was aiming for a new pair every 500km or so. The trail has been a little brutal and unlike that nice little single track I had been used to running around Bogong and Hotham. The BNT has some steep and rocky ascent and descents and would do nothing for any type of trail footwear, in fact rock climbing shoes maybe a better idea!

Until today……….I have never had such a long stretch of running since being on this journey. I covered the 35km in three and a half hours, hitting that 10kph mark and getting in to Tom Groggin much early than Vickie could imagine.

Today’s run stayed high and offered those amazing views I have been raving about for the whole distance to date. I found myself racing the slight declines, and having so much fun actually running at such a solid pace, I had to keep telling myself of the distance to go and not to be pushing it so hard, but after the climbs of the past two plus weeks and the sight of the mountain ranges that surrounded me it was simply too hard to resist!
Views over to Mount kosciuszko
Running down this dirt highway was fast and the odd logging truck that headed in my direction thought so too. They are so big that even with the brightly coloured running clothes I was wearing, there was no way these massive trucks in their balls of dust, could see me, so I would jump in to the bush to avoid them, as not to be road kill!

It got me to thinking about these so called logging tracks. It’s comforting to know that there is someone else out here other than you, and if anything happened then you might just be able to stop one of the giant trucks. Then on the other hand these are the same trucks that could end your life and as mentioned before stopping one would almost be impossible. It’s also sometimes nice to be out there in the wilderness alone, running on tracks that you would like to think no one had been down for some time, and defiantly not on foot. And then there is the fact that if full trucks were coming out of the mountains and empty one’s going in, then somewhere up here there was the sad fact that the beauty I was running through was fast becoming flattened.

20km in and I stumble on such a war zone that ended my running fun, and I was disgusted by what I had to see. Huge diggers driving through the bush knocking down trees like they were tooth picks. While coughing and spluttering out dirty fumes while doing it. I watch for 5 minutes while a mass area was taken away in front of me, and I decided that I would move on, as I felt guilt at the fact that I use paper amongst other things, and that’s before you think about the habitat of the wildlife that’s been taken away.

They need trees for that to happen!
15km to go and it’s all downhill, steep too, as I had been running at 1300mts all day and I needed to get down to the Murray River at Tom Groggin and the finish for the day. This is where I felt the previous 20km as my quads had to work hard to stabilize my decent.

I reached the mountain hut on the banks of the Murray and met with Wayne and Yvonne, from Geelong on their four wheel drive camping holiday. They had a fire burning and offered a tea. As the finishing point was 200mts away on the other side of the river and that being NSW, I stayed and chatted for a while, knowing that Vickie would be at least another two hours away, enjoying billy tea and the biscuits, heaven!

OK, it was time to move on, so I ran back up to the mountain hut to sign the BNT log book and write a little something about the journey so far, before moving back to the river bed where I would make the crossing.

My fear was that the Murray would be deep and raging. The truth was, it was a little like that! Waist deep with a good pull, I feared I would be washed down stream. Wayne and Yvonne watched on with their cameras, being entertained as I tried to look for the safest place to cross. It’s amazing how much confidence you get when there are others around, and feel like there is some sort of safety blanket or in this case life ring!

It wasn’t long before I was half way across, water up to my chest, hanging on to a large rock, freezing  cold and wondering how the hell I got myself in to this mess. What were the options keep going or go back? either way I was half way! I made my move but the current was strong and I slipped a little getting dunked, but lucky getting my feet wedged between another large rock, and then there was the bank and the shallows of the other side. I was there, and with a wave to my new friends I was running up the banks in now NSW.

Vickie wasn’t there as yet, but, I knew that. So, I quickly got changed in to something warm as I was shivering from the icy cold waters of the river. This is where the safety kit came in, as before the snow scare,on many of my shorter day runs, I have been carrying the bare essentials. The only thing I didn’t have was the wind and water proof matches or I could have light a fire in the pits that were this side.

Two hours later Vickie was still not here. The sun was setting and I was getting colder. No phone signal I wondered what may have happened to her. Another hour past and it was dusk, so I decided to set up my shelter a (Sea To Summit Specialist) I had carried, before it got dark so I could be warmer.

I lay there now in the dark, with all sorts of terrible ideas running through my head. I was cold but I knew I would be OK through the night if that was, what was going to happen. I didn’t care how late Vickie was going to be I just wanted to know she was safe.

Another hour and I actually thought I was here for the night…….and then I hear the beep of the Mother Ship, the tune that Vickie plays when she is a few hundred meters away from the pickup point. We were both happy to see each other and had our own stories of the day’s events. But right then, getting warm, eating and snuggling up under the doona together where the priorities.

As the title states, putting safety first is of the upmost importance, it was an easy days running today and the weather good. Taking everything with you, which you think you might need is a must. The snow two days ago had taught me something, and look what I had learnt. Running in the mountains is one thing and surviving them is another.

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