Monday, 25 June 2012

Day ????? Running, Streaching, of course Eating, Social Media, Diary, Radio Interviews, Paper Interviews, Video Uploading.........Blogging.

I’ve been slack on the blog front for a week or so now, not so much slack, but have been really concentrating on the running as that’s what I’m here to do, and have been doing day in day out for nearly 13 weeks. It’s taken me well and truly over the 2000km mark and the last crossing over the border and into Queensland. I also worked out that over that time I have run 58 mountain marathons on average, which blows my mind, so how non-runners or social runners get there head around me doing that every day over some of Australia’s toughest terrain and with a full pack, I do not know.
The day after the 73km bush bash and river swims of The Guy Fawkes National Park left me 38km away from the 2000km milestone. I was sore that morning and tired from what was a difficult day out running that 73km section.
Vickie was energetic and was pushing me to get me moving and reach that 2000km mark where ever it may have been. Me, I wasn’t really that bothered, I was stiff, sore and tired and it wouldn’t have bothered me if I reached that mark the next day.
10km in and I hadn’t warmed up, my quads where repeatedly asking me to stop, but I was this far in so I carried on.

It was great that Vickie could spend the day with me and take the burden of my pack for the day, leaving me to just plod away in my own thoughts, thoughts of wanting to curl up with a latte on the Maui sofa.

30km in and Vickie had organised all the campers at the site I was passing to come out and cheers me on, a great little booster, just what I needed, she must of known I wasn’t my enthusiastic self!
8km of climbing would have me hit that next 1000km and see me in the pub celebrating on another milestone of this massive run.

Celebrations were cut short as the following day I was back it, it was going to be a short run though after having a late start and the weather wasn’t the best, raining, well drizzling really for only the third time on the trip!
I was in a great mood and joked and giggled all afternoon as I ran in the rain.

We set up camp in the middle of the farm track we were on, as I could just step out the van early the next morning and just get on with the next day, I tell you, there’s no rest on this run.
The next day the weather was better, overcast and no rain and a good opportunity to crank lout some KM.

15km in and I come across Vickie parked up at a farm gate talking with a local cattleman. The next section of the days run would take me through Ben’s land and over into Washpool National Park and through a valley of yet more private land and a huge cattle station.
That night Vickie cooked up a storm at Bens place, and I enjoyed a few beers with him learning a bit about what goes on in the world of the cattleman. It was nice of him to let us into his place for a drink and a chat and we ended up camping out the front of his place after turning down the offer of sleeping on the sofa in front of his log fire, not sure why we did that!

Late start again the time we had finished up brekkie and said our good byes to Ben.
Today I would be running through Washpool NP before spending the day running through some very remote private land.

It was a hard day to navigate, the trail was non-existent which made it fun, getting lost, crossing creeks, jumping fences both barbed and electric, as well as getting my shoes full of grass seeds due to the length of it around these parts, which made me think of snakes more so than I have before. It wasn’t until I reached the four wheel drive track towards the end of the day until I saw one, and only the third of the trip.

Not bitten, but a little beaten up from scrub and slippery sharp rocks, I made it to the finish for the day some 54km later.

The next day was only 30km from one main road to the next, I only needed to go over three valleys for the day, it was much of what the day offered before which made for a longer day than expected, but fun all then same.
Boonoo Boonoo National Park……..what a name. The run today would be on a dirt road that went straight through the middle of Boonoo x 2 NP. It was another opportunity for Vickie to join me for the day and for me to have a break from my pack. The day would finish in a tiny town called Liston. I say tiny as most towns out this way in Australia can sometimes only have three houses, but liston had one!

The following day would be border crossing day. Queensland here I come! I would be taken the dirt highway to the border before heading along the rabbit proof fence, not in Queensland and not in New South Wales, just a sort of no-mans land. This would take me across more private land before finally crossing the border for the final time of this trip and in to sunny Queensland…….and it was.

Since the hop skip and jump into QLD it seems the trail has become way more accessible with the Maui Mothership. This has made Vickie very happy, but it means for me as a trail runner some unhappy days out there on some sealed roads, and as I have mentioned many times before its not where I like to be, but it seems to be good for knocking off some distance....

Monday, 11 June 2012

Day 76............Guy Fawkes NP. It Was All Fireworks!
Its sections like the Guy Fawkes NP that takes me a way from being a trail runner, for two reasons; You need a trail to trail run, and what this section failed to have was a trail, path, road, or any form of anything to follow, including BNT markers. Also trail running doesn’t include bashing your way through dense scrub, scaling cliffs and crossing rivers up to your neck.
This is how the last couple of wilderness areas have been, adventurous to say the least. The new term for such a activity is ‘Adventure Runner” but with the 70 odd km covered in one go is the term “Ultra Adventure Runner” appropriate?

Call it what you like, but running in paradise is what it was.
The concern for the day was river crossings, and with 28 of them at 80% full you could imagine why? Also the map showed that for the best part the trail went through the river as it headed down stream!

We had camped the night at the head of the trail, for an easy and early start. Vickie joined me for the first kilometre, before deciding it was too cold to be out.
It was a frosty start to the day, the sky was so clear that the moon was still out and I could see the sunrise through the trees of the forest I was heading into.

As I entered the tree line the trail started to climb at a considerable rate. This would be the only climb of the day as I would be with the Guy Fawkes River for the rest of the day as it snaked its way to the pickup point 63km later.

The views towards the top were magnificent; the spur I was running on was like a knife edge giving me views of the rising fogs both sides of the valleys below. The ribbon like single track balanced itself nicely a top the steep spur. It’s not often that the BNT has given me single track not for a significant amount of time, the morning was spent running up amongst the trees on it before it took and even steeper dive down to the valley floor, where I found myself lost in a jungle of Australian bush and mist.

No makers, no trail, which way to head? The Garmin took me through long grass and brambles, not a good start with grass seeds in socks and scratches on my legs. They were soon soothed with the first river crossing as my legs went numb with the coldness of the water, only knee deep I hoped that they were going to be like this all day.
I looked for an inclining of where to go, perhaps a marker? But, nothing but bush, I quickly learnt that it was going to be a day me, the Garmin and my gut feeling, the only landmark was going to be the river, and as long as I was heading down stream on it all day, than I was going the right way at least!

The river ran through a tight valley with cliffs either side meaning that to head down river meant being in the river or on its rocky slim banks.
The day was crossing after crossing with the hard part being finding a safe place to do so. The corners of the river were often good as the silt banked up offering mini islands; the down side was that the river often had pools that you would have to swim across, or rapids that would wash you downstream. This meant that when the Garmin told me to cross where the trail was meant to be, it wouldn’t always be the case, and I would have to try and pick up the trail (or Garmin coordinate) once reaching the other side, only to find that I need to be back over the other side. It also made it really hard to gauge the distanced covered.

After the first 15km there became more of a river bank, but here the river became wider also, making it more difficult to know how deep it was in places.
Now on the banks there seemed to be some single track trails, leading off all over the place, it wasn’t until I upset a herd of 20 brumbies did I realise where they came from.

There seemed to be Brumbies on every corner of the river, they were great to see out in the wild like this, and they made running along there single track effortless.

As the day went on the river seemed to get deeper and the terrain harder to run on, bring me to a hike at times. The bush was still thick in places and lacerated my legs that were already throbbing from the meter high stinging nettles that lined the river banks.

I was fighting with the light again and was worried that I would be spending the night out here in the wilderness. I came to a section called Winnies Gap that would be a short cut if the river wasn’t too high. It was a dip in the valley wall that you could hike through taking out a 3km bend in the river. I could see why the guide book said if the river was low, each side of the gap was practically a swim and it wasn’t until you were half way across the river that you found that out.
There was a 5km section coming up that wasn’t on the river and I was looking forward to getting away from the relentless river crossings, though the trade-off was steep gully and a bush bash up it.

The weather was once again glorious but it was cold down in the valley and being wet didn’t help. I was looking forward to getting dry and warm and even more so since the sun had disappeared behind the mountains.
It was a race to the end point; I crossed the river for the final time and was happy to as the light was almost gone. For the first time in 60km there was a four wheel drive track that would guide me to the locked gate and the comfort of the Maui Mothership!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Day 76.........Beaten Up and Almost Swimming

I have had a few interesting days of soreness and river levels through the national parks.

After my 73km run through the Oxley Wild Rivers wilderness, I woke up sore the following morning. Most mornings on the run so far I have awoken with a pain of some description somewhere, and there is no way on this trip that I could wake up feeling fresh as a daisy, with 250km plus weeks back to back over some of the countries toughest terrain it’s going to happen.

I have learnt to deal with this constant niggling annoyance, it’s like it’s become part of who I am!

This morning though things felt different, I was feeling really beaten up. I’ve become paranoid now after having to take almost week out with the sciatic problem, never wanting to go back there. The decision of taking the day off was made after Vickie had spoken with Park NSW.

The next section of the Oxley Wild Rivers National park was also along another stretch of river. The ranger had advised that the Georges River which I would be following that day had washed out all of what trail was there, and unless I was planning on running within the river than perhaps this was a no go zone. If it isn’t for private land owners blocking the trail then the environment was!

Parks were surprised that I had made it through the Oxleys as quick as I did, it takes them that long by four wheel drive and it was unheard of that someone would make the whole distance on foot in one day! He had advised that that section had been cleared recently and the trail easy to follow. Now he was telling us that the next section of trail was non-existent. Now, the run through the Oxleys was tough going, there was no trail to follow and where it was signed to cross the river, unless you were a rapids swimmer that liked to dice with death then you wouldn’t cross there. What I’m getting at is that if he said it was clear and it wasn’t and the next section not clear than I would be silly to take my chances, so I followed the road instead the following day in to Ebor, not so exciting, but I’m here to talk about it.

That run in to Ebor was hard. It was relativity flat and easy going on the road but I was still hurting from the Oxley section and at 1300mts any type of run become a little more difficult.

The reward for the day was a talk at the Ebor Public School, to their whole school. But today two of the student were off sick, bringing the whole school to a grand total of two!

The next day I was running to the start of another big wilderness section where I would be talking a 62km run with many river crossings again. To get there I followed the highway out of town to the entrance of the Guy FawkesNational park. Still sore I struggled to get there, but going by the dance moves on route you wouldn’t think so!

That night I remapped the Guy Fawkes section making sure I was ready for the big following day ahead. WE had phoned through to Parks to check the river levels etc. They were at 80% and higher than they had been in months, so what was I to do now? Parks made one of the best comments I think I have ever heard. “The rivers may be waist deep in places, but it doesn’t have much of a pull on it, we go through there all the time in four wheel drives, and we have never been washed down river”! Erh……..I’m on foot!

Gathering some more information and using the guide books I decided I would leave early in the morning and take my chances. Vickie worked hard on me that night trying to iron out any sore spots, but everywhere was still hurting.

So that brings me to today. We took the drive to Armidale about an hours drive from the trail head where I was planning to start my day.

There was this feeling I had where I knew something wasn’t right. I was still sore this morning, which made me nervous about covering the distance. Even so, I started packing my stuff for the day ahead it wasn’t until I started up my Garmin that I noticed the batteries were flat, so I put in some new ones, they were quarter full. Both sets hadn’t charged over night for some reason. OK, we would have to drive back to the nearest town and wait for their local store to open to get batteries. This was going to make for a late start on a long day, with soreness in my legs and river levels up over the norm.

This had to be a sign? OK, Vickie this is what we are going to do. We are going to take the drive into Armidale, as she had already organised a meeting there for mid-day. As it was a big town, I booked myself in for two hours with a great sports masseuse, cached up on my blog, shoe and sock report for my sponsors Vasque and SmartWool. Washed cloths and dried them packed all my gear for the big day tomorrow, checked river levels again, caught up on some emails as well as mapping out and re-routing the days ahead.

But, the biggest bonus came when Channel 7 News came to the massage clinic to interview me.

Looks like you have to go with the flow, if you’re feeling something deep inside then you are best to go with it. I feel amazing now and am looking forward to the big day tomorrow. I have all my loose ends tied up and got to spend some time with Vickie, and if I wasn’t in town I never would have got the TV gig….something’s are just meant to be.

Check-out Channel 7 News tonight!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Day 71..........Kangaroo Flat and boring they should have called it

From one dirt road to another. Not much to report on this day apart from the 3km climb and the “I cannot be bothered” approach I had for this day. The exciting news is that I’m at the entrance to The Oxley Wild Rivers National Park……back running in the wilderness tomorrow!

Day 72………….A Run on the Wet and Wild Side

It’s the days like these that I love the most, but you spend the best part of it feeling anxious. A big days running ahead through the wilderness of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, and on opening my eyes this morning I had this anxious feeling.

It’s the fear of the unknown, all the usual things run through your head like injury or getting lost, but it’s none of these things that were worrying me this beautiful morning. I had 43 river crossings today and as the guide book pointed out more than once, the rivers can become un-crossable without warning so seek approval before heading out.

That said, we had called the contact for rivers two days ahead of schedule, without any answer and no call back. Vickie called the Section Coordinator for this part of the trail only to find out he had gone bush, and his wife letting us know that it “should” be alright as there hadn’t been rain for a while.
What I have learn on this adventure is the term “should” SHOULD never be taken gospal what “should” be right, and what is right, are two completely different things when it comes to safety out in the wilderness. So we called Parks NSW. Now Parks in any State can be an interesting one, it goes one of two ways; You get someone who is really helpful and is actually interested in what you are doing and your safety, and then, you guessed it, the complete opposite. Today was that day and I got the same “should" response, “it hasn’t rain around here for a while"!

What little I do know about rivers, I do know that they are not always affected by the rain in the immediate area, and if it’s been raining hard upstream, and that could be miles away, then they could be up now or in the next day or two.

So, here I am about to head out in to the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park…yes WILD Rivers! Hence the anxiousness! Backpack fully loaded with all the usual gear, plus the possibility of a camp out so all that stuff two, adding to the weight for what was going to be a pretty tough day.

I ran down the management track and waved Vickie goodbye, she stood there until I disappeared over the hill, I knew she felt the same way and would have a worrying day watching the SPOT Tracker.

The trail left the management track and headed down a very steep spur that my quads didn’t like so early on with the load I was carrying. It was making its way down to the valley floor below which I couldn’t see because of the amazing fog that was lifting out of it, it was like I had my feet in the clouds without the weightlessness.

Once at the bottom of the valley floor I was surprised to see it not flat, but just a vastness of more valleys that seemed to go on forever, a trail running wonderland of rivers, forests and valleys, but there was a slight problem in paradise.
The Garmin was telling me to take a left down a track that didn’t exists, but the trail I was on was the name of the one I was meant to be turning on to. When things like this happen at the start of a giant day of running, you wonder what you might be getting yourself in to?

Gut instinct is what you have to rely on, so I stayed on the track I was on. 2km later it hooked around on to the track I was meant to be on, but there was still no sign of it. It looked like it was going to be one of those days!

Sometimes on the Garmin you cannot just follow the purple line that guides you through the bush. Sometimes it doesn’t quit line up with the track you are supposed to be on, it’s not the devices fault, it’s just different to the map I use on the computer. The problem with this happening also is that you can add a fare few km's more before you know it, and this is more than likely why after another hour on the trail, I had only covered a km by Garmins standards!

Most of the day would be slightly downhill, so you would like to think of that as being a great opportunity of just cranking out the K’s? Yes, it was downhill in altitude but the terrain was a little something like this.

This makes it some tough going with its sharp inclines bringing me to a hike, and then having to make it up on the other side of it by running fast.
The valleys where wide and open, full of long native grasses of green, yellow and reds. The seeds would catch on my socks and get stuck under the tongue of my shoes, and after the 10th time of removing a few, I was pissed that I didn’t wear my gaiters.

The first 20 river crossings were only knee deep at best, however I was following a brook for the best part, so they should be shallow, isn’t it something like, Brook, Creek, Stream and River?!

The trail took me up and down for hours with little effect on the Garmin, it had been saying 43km for  two hours now. The only reason I knew I was getting anywhere was I was passing landmarks along route. I just needed to keep pushing forwards.

I passed the last hut and knew I should only be 27km or so from the finish with the real river crossings coming up. First though I would be passing massacre site and one of the reasons I didn’t want to be stuck out camping the night!

A large cloud blackened the sky and it started to spit rain, it was unusual as the sky 360degs around it was blue, it was just dark over my head and I hoped it didn’t follow me to the finishing point! Luckily it was a short stay and I was back knocking off K’s in the sunshine, and I was knocking off K’s too, the Garmin had finally come to the party!

The Maclay River was wide at least 150mts. I could imagine that if it was flowing at full bore it would be well up to the pebbled banks I was standing on making it 250mtes of raging river. So, looks like perhaps the “should” theory was right this time!

It was hard finding a place to cross it was deep at most places and had a fairly strong pull on it. After a dozen of these crossings and falling in a couple of times, I was now chasing daylight hours.

I had a few more crossings and wanted to get them out the way before sunset, where by it would be far more dangerous crossing then, and I would be finding myself camped out here the night.

I was pushing hard and hurting trying to wrap up the last 10km and it was difficult running along the river banks having to rock hop and bush bash.

The worst crossing came about when it was signed posted!

I found myself traveling further downstream to find somewhere safer to cross; the river was deep and wide here! There was nowhere to cross that was lower than waist height, so I took the plunge literally and practically swam to the far side with a panic!

This left me with 4km to go. Easy on any school night, but I was cold wet, carrying a heavy pack 68km down for the day and hurting! It was 4:40pm 4km in 20mins should be a cinch normally getting me in just before dark. However the trail disappeared again, like it had done all day and I found myself taking a huge climb. Was I going the right way? I had one finally river crossing 200m from the finish, so climbing up at this stage wasn’t a good sign. Then there was the sign that said “Private Property stick to marked paths” I would if there was one!

Then it dropped down steep and I had faith that this should be the final crossing and the Garmin thought so too. Where it wanted me to cross again was a no go, both directions were deep, it was dark now and I just needed to get over. I couldn’t see the Mothership on the far side for scrub, so I yelled out a few ties hoping that Vickie might hear me, there was nothing.

So it was one last swim and a grab of the bushes the other side and I was there, just about 10 meters down from where the river had dragged me.

Made my way up through the scrub and to the meeting point. Vickie arrived at exactly the same time, funny how that happens.

Its frighting to think that these rivers were very low, but still flowing fairly hard and deep. If it had rained more than the day before like it did, I reckon it would have been a whole different experience, but another BNT experience all the same!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Day 70……………………...Nerina Joins me for a morning.

The alarm went off at 4am and I was surprisingly wide awake. We would be picking up Nerina today who worked at the FoodWorks in Walcha for a 20km run starting where I had finished up the day before.
Nerina had contacted us when she found out that I was visiting the store she works at and wanted to join me for a few K’s. It was something different for me, I hadn’t had anybody run with me since Day one and I was getting very comfortable with myself.
We had to start early as the drive to the start was 45mins out of town and Nerina had to work that morning.

First light had just broken when we jump out of the car and it was still very foggy. Vickie would be supporting us today, so I didn’t need to carry my pack and it was easy terrain 20km up a management track. I wanted today to be as scenic as the day before, it’s like if people are going to join me I want them to experience some of the great places I had and not some dirt road running through the state forest. But, what I’m forgetting here is that this is still beautiful and for the road runner it couldn’t be better. I have just been spoilt running through huge gorges and valleys, but for most these places are un-runnable, only us true trail runners are able to run 20k over hard terrain to get a great view only to run another 30km to get out. There are many beautiful places you can drive to but the true experience is right out in the wilderness where few have traversed.
This was to be Nerina’s last long run before her marathon this weekend, and I hope that the uneven terrain didn’t mess it up for her. She must have enjoyed herself, she asked us back for breakfast and cooked us up a storm, and it didn’t stop there we were back there for dinner and a night in front of the fire.

It still amazes me how wonderful people are, they are always wanting to help out anyway they can.

Day 67 - 68, 69………………………Much Needed Day Off!

Amazing fruit and veg at FoodWorks Gloucester
A busy day off in Gloucester, we had arranged to be at the FoodWorks store for 9am to sort out an interview with the local paper, radio station and get the shopping done. We had spent the evening camped in the competitions carpark,  IGA Supermarket, but Innes owned this too, and as I learnt from having dinner with him and his family the night before, it sounded like this town should be called Innescester.
It was good to catch up on a few things and just take some time out from the relentless pounding  I was putting my body through.

Day 68……………………..People You Meet

I started in a place called Caramea Homestead, I was lucky to start here as It was the other side of the Drover Gap where I had been forbidden to go the day before. I wouldn’t have started there if it wasn’t for Anthony a local cattleman.
It was a four wheel drive track all overgrown that took a steep decent down a spur line to the bottom of the valley floor where the homestead was.

Anthony had taken time out of his day to take me down there and take a look around some where he hadn’t been for a number of years.
So ,who’s Anthony I hear you ask? We had driven from Gloucester to a place called Nowandoc  the night before and I was going to run from there to Yarrowitch. We had pulled up in a rest area in the middle of town (well three houses and a closed down shop) We were all ready for bed and we hear this ute pull up. It was Anthony to clean up the toilets and empty the bins. Vickie felt sorry for him with it being 10pm and him still working and I was sent out to see if he wanted a cuppa.

Before we knew it we had him in the van having a good old yarn, turns out he knew heaps about the trail. He offered me he lift down into the valley so that I could run this thing properly.

8am on the dot and Anthony pulls up. I wondered all night if he was going to be there, he was a bit blurry eyed as he finished a beer the night before and headed home.

It was a cold and foggy start to the day. The decent was steep and it was an 8km uphill battle to get out. Once at the top I had the undulating 20km back into town along the main road and then another 10km down a dirt road to Top Station where I finished up for the day. We were lucky to get the Mothership down there, the road was good, but only went as far as the station. Tomorrow I would be heading out over the rough country.
Views from the top of the velley, worth the climb

Day 69………………………Top Station Wilderness

We awoke to a beautiful morning in the rolling country side of this station. The foggy valleys made for a magical started as I headed up the dirt track watching the Mothership drive out the opposite way, it looked like a speck in this vast landscape.

I had a 43km of tough going and not much of a trail to follow as I made my way through huge cattle stations without a person or property in sight. The focus of today was going to be getting to the finish by at least 1pm as Vickie had arranged a talk at the school in a town called Walcha.

I often think how great some of these sections would be if I wasn’t so tired in the legs. 43km for me is not such a huge distance but when you put back to back marathons or more together over mountainess terrain consecutively it becomes a whole different experience. If it was a weekend run with friends you would have it knocked off in just a few hours having a whole lot of fun along route. Not that I’m not having fun, but pain and lots of it makes up most of my days both physically and mentally. So at least I’m experiencing what I wanted to while planning this run.
Another day heading out into the wilderness
I made it by 1pm on the dot and we rushed into town just in time to entertain a bunch of school kids that often surprise me with some of the intelligent questions they can ask at such a young age.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Day 66..........Some Days I Could Scream

Could anymore go wrong? That’s was the question I had for the day.

It all started when the alarm didn’t go off for whatever reason leaving me a little late to get started for the day and Vickie running around frantic making breakfast and coffee. We had spent the night in Malcolm country or rather the Barrington Tops National Park.

It was cold and damp as I started jogging up the track, I turned to wave Vickie goodbye and noticed the next drama of the day, a flat tyre on the Mothership.

Looks like running was further going to be delayed, as I worked this one out. It took a while with a few hiccups, but we did eventually get back on track literally.

Finally ready to go I was running a little quicker than normal trying to make up for some lost time both with the alarm and tyre combination.

5km in and Vickie is parked up the road, she should have gone for the day, after all she had a big drive to get around the far side of the Drovers Gap where I would be going through today.

I approached the van to find her on the phone; she had got reception just in that point and was calling a few people back. I carried on with my pace wanting to knock at least the first 10km for the day.

Vickie caught me up before I was about to turn off the management track and be alone for the day. That’s when we had drama number three. Why do all these things come in threes?

She had just got off the phone to Nick Jacomas the BNT Chairman, who had just finished a meeting with some private land owners, the same owners that own part of the Drovers Gap where I was heading. He and George from Parks NSW had been trying to come to an agreement for the continuation of the BNT passing through a 500m section of their land. The answer today was no! So, I had to call it a day and get in the van, just in time as I was just about to head off road for the day.

So the plan for the day now was to head into the nearby town of Gloucester, get the spare tyre fixed, head to the laundry and catch up on emails etc. Then the following day head to the end point of today’s run to pick up the trail and go on as normal…….until, yep, drama number four, there goes my in threes theory!

Flat tyre number two. Now this wasn’t going to be as easy as just changing the wheel as we had used the spare already. So, the first bit of luck of the day was that we had phone reception so we called a local tyre joint in town and within 15mins they were sorting our little mess out.

Following the tyre truck back into town to pay I thought that surely drama number five was going to be the bill for two tyres and a call out services charge. Nope, it was more than reasonable.

I noticed a FoodWorks store over the road, and me and Vickie decided that we would try our luck and see if they would like to join the other sponsors, and help us out with some shopping.
This is where the day completely changed……………….

Innes the owner had been expecting us, he was already on board, he was just waiting on a call from us to say when we were going to be in town. If it wasn’t for the private access decision and the flat tyres, we wouldn’t even be in town!
In brief Innes and his wonderful team at his FoodWorks store couldn’t have help out more. Our arranged sponsored amount was wavered, he said that we should make sure we were loaded up on everything no matter what the cost and make sure we had some treats too.

He had the local paper called for an interview the following day and Vickie sorted out the local radio.

He then asked us out for dinner with his family at the local watering hole on him and then to top it all off donated $1000 to SANE Australia.

What was a bad day was turned around completely and we had a great following day in town.

Day 64 and 65...............A little French

I had one of the latest starts to date I didn’t leave until 11:00, now that’s what I call a lay in.

I would be starting 4km down the road from the Rouchel Sports Ground where we had stayed the night. It always tickles me that towns if they can be classed as that with three houses. Have things like a sports grounds. Even if the families were big at each house there still wouldn’t be enough to make a whole football team never alone two so they could play each other. Where did the name Rouchel come from, and how did it end up here in the middle of country Australia? I half expected the farmers to have garlic around their necks, wearing beret and making delicious cheeses, while smoking in their stripy t-shirts.

Reality, didn’t see one person there, there were more headstones in the “towns” cemetery opposite where we had parked than people.

The run out of town took me through rolling countryside on a dirt road. Going by the map, it looked like Vickie could spend the day with me again. But in true BNT fashion that wasn’t to be the case, as the road came to a gate and the trail turned in to more of a single track as it headed up and over the mountains. Great news for me, getting back out there on some real tails, but, it added to a longer drive for Vickie, having to take the Mothership the longer way round.

The run over the ridgelines was amazing, just rolling countryside as far as the eye could see. There were no properties, or signs of life, it was bliss. The climb up from the road was a little torturous, but what’s new? It seems I must be a little sadistic putting myself through some sort of pain like that each and every day.

Country like this is a pleasure to run through, but in the back of your mind is always the thought that you might not be going the right way, as there is no track to follow. I put so much faith into the Garmin device that holds all the daily maps for the run, without it I would be in real trouble!

It was hard to take it easy as I started to drop down one of the spur lines towards what I hoped would be a dirt track, I was having way to much fun to be worrying about pulling up sore in the morning and after being on sealed roads the few days before I was happy to be back trail running.

The back end of my run took me through a couple more small towns, just like where I started there would have been no more than four houses.

I finished up at the end of a dirt road, where I met Vickie and the Mothership. Tomorrows run was going to be a climb up and out of the valley we were in, and where we would be spending the night.

Day 65…………Gulf Bridle Track – Barrington Tops National Park

Looking for the track to get started was hard enough, what an earth was the day going to unfold. For the best part the BNT is on management tracks or tracks that go through private stations, sometime you have to work out which corner of a field you should be heading for a gate, or work out if the trail goes up or around the mountain, other times, like today, you wonder if you are even looking in the right place, no markers, no signs of a track even the farm gate was over grown and hadn’t been opened since way back when.
On days like this the trust has to be in the Garmin GPS unit that I carry and the hope that I put the right waypoints into it! So with that in mind I kiss Vickie goodbye and head out in to the overgrowth.

The first few KM were I bit of a bush bash along the side of the river full of stinging nettles, my shins throbbed all over. I the crossed the river where the Garmin told me too and struck luck the other side as I could make out a sort of single track. This was meant to be the Gulf Bridle Trail that would take me all the way to the Barrington Tops National Park but, this trail hadn’t seen anything for a long while, except wildlife. And there was lots of it.
Of course the usual Kangaroos and wallabies were in abun
dance, but there were birds of all shapes and sizes, including an eagle, what a way to start the morning. Further down the trail I ran with wild goats and their babies, I stopped for a while to watch them climb with ease the steep sides of the valley walls.

After following what I thought was the right single track or at the least the one that was marked on my Garmin I was a kilometre away from the road, but when I got there it was still a single track making its way across fields. I follow this for a further 2km before crossing a river and getting to the dirt road that would take me into The Barrington Tops National Park.

It was to be a climb, a constant climb for 26km from 200m to 1450m and after the 8km of running up and over valleys it wasn’t what I really needed.

I started the climb and tried to not think about the fact that it was going to be like this for the rest of  afternoon. I hear a beep and it was Vickie just in time to take my pack and leave me to slog out the next 26km up and in to the Barringtons.

The temperature plummeted as I climbed I stopped to put a jacket and a bennie on, only to see three eagles circling above. Its times like these that make the pain all worth it, not only great views but eagles to!
More to come I'm playing catch up!