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!

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