Lake Eucumbene looked like glass and the morning fog was lifting from all directions. What a tranquil part of the country made better by the fact that there were only two other people in the area fishing, this was a vast open area set down below the foothills.
I didn’t feel too bad physically, and I rushed to get ready as I wanted to leave early knowing I had 65km to run over the hills to get to Yaouk, and I knew it was going to take some time based on the two 50km days that had come before it!
I had to carry my larger Black Diamond pack, as I needed the extra gear, in case I needed a night out or the weather turned south. There were many huts on the trail today, but I really didn’t want to be out in any of them and wanted to rap the whole distance up in a day.
As ready as I was with the gear, mentally I wasn’t even prepared. I really didn’t want to leave today, I felt sad at the fact that I had to head off, and I felt like I had to, like a soldier off to war. I felt like I was going and I may not be back!
I kissed Vickie good bye and whispered the words “I miss you already today” and I sensed she felt the same. It’s a strange feeling that, I was after all really just going off to work for the day, and I was coming back, It just felt like doing 165km over three days in the mountains, with umpteen marathons before that, that I could be going off for the last time!
The trail left the campsite and curved around the far side of the lake. It was cold as this side was still in the shade. I had only been running for two minutes before I welled up. I had no idea why? Was it because I didn’t really want to go, was it that I knew the day was going to be a long and tough one? Or was I proud of my achievement to date. I had no idea really? I was just overwhelmed by everything.
I crossed over the river inlet to the lake, trying to not get wet feet so early on for a change especially with it being so cold. I ran through a caravan park the far side of the lake, before crossing the main Alpine Way, and then started heading upwards on a single track trail that followed the power lines.
So far, the trail was well marked with new BNT markers all over the place. It’s comforting to know that you are on the right path. As, like on this morning’s trail, you really could be heading anywhere!
The trail opened out in to a huge valley and followed the river deeper into the wilderness, and once again I felt like a tiny speckle in this huge landscape.
The grass was long and the trail hard to follow and as the weather got warmer I feared of snakes in the long grass.
It was a lovely place to run, fairly flat, with 360 degree views of mountain ranges, and I stumbled upon many mountain huts over the first 20km.
The dusty dry air out here makes your sinus’s clog up and you find yourself constantly clearing your nose. This time there wasn’t just the usual dirt, but a gush of blood to go with it! It streamed down my face and I had nothing to curb the bleeding, except my t-shirt. Now, Arcteryx the brand of my clothing has been more than fantastic to date. I was told by fellow outdoorsman that the brand was like the Gucci of the outdoor clothing world, and as great as it is, doing its job, it’s also fantastic at soaking up blood! Something that you wouldn’t see on the catwalks of Milan!
The trail took a sharp turn in to a small wooded area and the trail became exciting, a narrow single track carving its way through the bush with the odd log to jump and low tree branch to duck under. My 20 minutes of fun came to a halt, when I came head to head with a Brumby! I’m not sure who was more scared of whom, but he made the first move and turned and bolted. Did I look like Rambo coming out of the bush like that covered in dirt and blood all over my face?
He ran over to a whole herd of them grazing in the sunshine in a piece of open land. What a sight, the first time I had seen any type of horse in the wild like that. Scared? A little, not sure how they would react? I jogged closer and they bolted again, stopping once in a while to check where I was and what I was up to.
I was once then back in the scrub dodging and weaving before popping out the other side in to a campsite. There was no one around, just a mob of kangaroos in and around the tents and four wheel drives that were there. They must have headed out riding or something, so I moved on.
Another 5km down I come across the almighty Oldfields Hut!
I only had 20km to go from here, and going by the elevation chart on my Garmin, there was going to be 50% of that uphill and a steep descent the other side that would take me quickly back to the Maui Mother Ship and Vickie that hours earlier I thought I wasn’t going to see again!
The sun dropped behind the mountain and it got cold, as I climb for the last time today. The other side was almost too steep, but who’s complaining!
I ran as fast as I could over what seemed like a floor of marbles, trying to keep upright, and smashing in my quads.
I made the bottom of the mountain, and found a little piece of heaven at there. It was the entrance to someone’s private property, and they had planted out some European trees around a bubbling creek, that were yellow and red, and stuck out compared to the rest of the Aussie bush. It was almost a shame that I wasn’t finishing here.
8km to go through the farmland negotiating cattle, figuring out if there cows or bulls? It was flat and a slog, but the end was just a stones through away.
Once again I was back in the arms of Vickie, feeling safe and warm. Tired and beaten up, It was great to be back. She had a treat for me for dinner, who would of guessed, Sushi on the BNT!
This trail is really having its ups and downs, both with the land and me. But this is what I wanted when I signed up for this…….Right?